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Why is Hollywood responding so strongly to actors criticisms regarding Game of Thrones predominately white cast with the big upcoming epic fantasy adaptations?

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3 minutes ago, SpaceChampion said:

I took a look at imdb and see the 2011 adaptation did cast a light-skinned black actor for Heathcliff.

That was the only exception I can think of. Though Heathcliff, based on his book description and what other charactets are guessing about his origin, is more likely to be of South Asian, Southeast Asian, mestizo Latino or maybe Polynesian origin than black - but he is definitely lkely to be mixed race, and a light skinned black person that other characters around hin wouldn't recognise as black is a remote possibility. 

The funny thing is that the media reacted to that movie with titles like "Heathcliff gets a race lift" - apparently unaware that he'd been getting racelift all along and convinced that Heathcliff is supposed to be white. (They probably never read the book.) The 1990s film kept the "Gypsy" racial slurs but cast Ralph Fiennes with a fake tan, 2000s Tom Hardy version dispensed with any indications of race whatsoever and instead just focused on class issues and made him a suspected illegitimate son of Mr Earnshaw, and there was apparently even a modern, gender-flipped version (which makes no sense, because being a woman in the 18th/19th century society is crucial for Cathy's character) but still made all characters white.

Even if you google WH fanart, you see a bunch of drawings of white Heathcliff, and the first time I looked for fancasts of WH on Tunblr out of curiosity, I found someone fan casting Aidan Turner as Heathcliff.

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Posted (edited)

If someone is writing in English, then they are writing for a "Western" audience of people who also speak English as their first language, just as someone writing in X language is writing for an audience that X language is the primary or only language.

Heathcliff was a 'gypsy' according to the text, so that would make him a dark skinned Caucasian, anywhere from Indian to Southern European or Middle Eastern.  He's not Lawrence Olivier and he's not an African or an Asian

Edited by Cas Stark

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, Annara Snow said:

The funny thing is that the media reacted to that movie with titles like "Heathcliff gets a race lift" - apparently unaware that he'd been getting racelift all along and convinced that Heathcliff is supposed to be white.

 

I've been calling it race-bending.  Like in ATLA, where magical bending is done through gestures.  In the case of race-bending, it's the gestures of language and a kind of doublethink where one ignores the evidence one does not want to accept.  And of course, the ATLA  movie was a prime example of race-bending.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

If someone is writing in English, then they are writing for a "Western" audience of people who also speak English as their first language, just as someone writing in X language is writing for an audience that X language is the primary or only language.

Heathcliff was a 'gypsy' according to the text, so that would make him a dark skinned Caucasian, anywhere from Indian to Southern European or Middle Eastern.  He's not Lawrence Olivier and he's not an African. 

1) Because only "Western" people speak English and books never get translated, right?

2) According to the text, Heathcliff is a man of unknown origin who visibly looks :darker" and different from the white British people around him to the point that he gets racial slurs and people constantly speculate about his origins.

No, he sure as hell isn't "Southern European".  Spanish, Italian, Greek people etc. are white and most are not at all particularly "dark". 

"Caucasian" is an outdated term, but Indian (and South Asian in general,) people are sure as hell not perceived as "white" in Europe or USA (and are the main target of racism by extreme right wing in UK today, for that matter). 

Romani people are of South Asian origin, brown and very obviously racially different from the white majority in Europe. They are the main target of racism in many countries (including my own). According to your logic, they should look the same as anyone in the Balkans or Italy or Spain. They don't and people can easily recognize them as different. "Gypsy" is a very strong racial slur, the strongest one in my country (Ciganin). Ignorant racist people will often also use it not just for Romani, but for any brown person, - from my half-Indonesian friend to a Cuban woman who was once stopped from going into the shopping mall in Belgrade by a racist security guard who mistook her for a Romani. Most people in the region are white, and aside from foreigners and tourists, the only non-white people were Romani for a very long time.

(ETA: Sure, Hollywood loves to cast white people as Romani. But actual Romani people look like this: 

https://www.ceopom-istina.rs/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/romi-fakultet620x0.jpg?lang=lat

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-adfOB9NcfcY/WeWmZFqvftI/AAAAAAAAAAM/Sh4KC7Z8UOoD4W6oUgaEHeKl8y1KZu8KgCLcBGAs/s1600/images.jpg

Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff was a child that Mr Earnshaw brought from his trip from Liverpool, claiming he found the child in the street and that "it (sic) had no owner". He calls the child "dark as the devil". There are plenty of mentions of his skin (either described as dark or sallow), black hair and dark eyes (described as "black", "eyes full of black fire"). According to the narrator, Nelly Dean, the child spoke only some "gibberish that nobody could understand". = a foreign language. No one ever finds out where he is from, exactly, but they all see him as different.

Hindley and Isabella, kids who have spent all their lives in Yorkshire, call him a "Gypsy" as a slur (Hindley) or compare him to one (Isabella: "Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa. He's exactly like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant. Isn't he, Edgar?") Romani were probably the only 'brown' people they had ever seen.

Mr Linton, wealthy landowner, a bit more worldly and  with some (but very vague) clue about people from other continents, says:

"But who is this? Where did she pick up this companion? Oho! I declare he is that strange acquisition my late neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool—a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway."

Lascars were, according to WIkipedia, ""was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Arab world, and other territories located to the east of the Cape of Good Hope, who were employed on European ships from the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century."

By "American castaway", I think it's pretty obvious that Mr Linton doesn't mean some English or Dutch person from the former colonies. "American race" was the term used in the 18th century for Native Americans. And maybe you're going to say that "Spanish castaway" must have meant a person from Spain who just took a trip to UK by boat, but in the context, that makes no sense - "He is probably Indian, Native American or from Spain" said no one ever. Much more likely, he means someone from the Spanish colonies - as we would say "Hispanic", and not a white Hispanic person.

But if you still insist that it's totally likely that Heathcliff is just some Spanish or Greek kid with a stronger tan, how about this next part where Nelly Dean is comforting 12 year old Heathcliff:

'But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn't make him less handsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!'
'And cried for mamma at every turn,' I added, 'and trembled if a country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day for a shower of rain. Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor spirit! Come to the glass, and I'll let you see what you should wish. Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; and those thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle; and that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil's spies? Wish and learn to smooth away the surly wrinkles, to raise your lids frankly, and change the fiends to confident, innocent angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, and always seeing friends where they are not sure of foes. Don't get the expression of a vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are its desert, and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what it suffers.'
'In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton's great blue eyes and even forehead,' he replied. 'I do--and that won't help me to them.'

'A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,' I continued, 'if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly. And now that we've done washing, and combing, and sulking--tell me whether you don't think yourself rather handsome? I'll tell you, I do. You're fit for a prince in disguise. Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week's income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together? And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England. Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth; and the thoughts of what I was should give me courage and dignity to support the oppressions of a little farmer!'

 

Are you really going to tell me that some white "Southern European" person is going to be called "Gypsy" racial slurs, assumed to have been brought by sailors from overseas, and speculated to be of Chinese and Indian descent? Come on, that's nonsense.


 

 

Edited by Annara Snow

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I subscribe to the idea that Heathcliff is almost certainly Roma -- he's explicitly assumed to be a "Gypsy" by Mrs. Earnshaw, and there's not a lot of reason to think otherwise. Charlotte Brontë also used a gypsy character (a false one, in this case) in Jane Eyre. The fact that he spoke "gibberish" is not all that unlikely given that the Roma were still mostly speaking Romani in England until a transition took place in the 19th century.

But of course, the Roma were in Europe for centuries at this point in time, and there was surely intermixing going on.

 

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50 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

Heathcliff was a 'gypsy' according to the text, so that would make him a dark skinned Caucasian, anywhere from Indian to Southern European or Middle Eastern.  He's not Lawrence Olivier and he's not an African or an Asian

Most versions of Heathcliff in numerous movies depicts him as having dark features and dark hair , with darker skin as well. Pretty consistent for a mixed race Romani gypsy. 
 

Less accurate would be someone with Afro hair, which I’d say is far less likely. 

Either way I think it’s a pretty silly thing to be writing pages and pages about:

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1 minute ago, Ran said:

I subscribe to the idea that Heathcliff is almost certainly Roma -- he's explicitly assumed to be a "Gypsy" by Mrs. Earnshaw, and there's not a lot of reason to think otherwise. Charlotte Brontë also used a gypsy character (a false one, in this case) in Jane Eyre. The fact that he spoke "gibberish" is not all that unlikely given that the Roma were still mostly speaking Romani in England until a transition took place in the 19th century.

But of course, the Roma were in Europe for centuries at this point in time, and there was surely intermixing going on.

 

His origin was always meant to be mysterious - he could be Roma, or he could be brought overseas to Liverpool and of part South Asian or Southeast Asian (which would explain why Nelly thought he could be Chinese and Indian) or something else, it doesn't really matter and the text never reveals it. What really matters is that he is perceived as racially different, foreign and 'other' - which plays a big role in his story and how the other characters treat him, with smaller or bigger amounts of racism. So to make him white makes no sense.

And yes, he is most likely to be mixed race - with some white ancestry, because his son with the blonde, blue eyed pale Isabella turns out blond, blue eyed and pale. The narrator, Lockwood, thinks he has "dark skin like a Gypsy" but also later assumes that Hareton Earnshaw (white English boy with brown eyes and hair) is his son.

These days we'd call him a brown POC who is "racially ambiguous", though a lot of that ambiguity is simply because the other characters have limited knowledge about what various ethnicities look like.There's often the "They are just sure that 1) he is not white and 2) not black, at least not a "regular black".

Which is really often the case today, too, when people make comments that "Filipinos look like Mexicans" or “He was either Latino, Arab, or Mexican. Either way, very Muslim" ;) or argue whether an actor looks part Asian, Latino, Aboriginal Australian, Pacific Islander or "just a tanned Southern European dude". Actors like Ben Kingsley and Lou Diamond Phillips owe their career of getting cast as all sorts of ethnicities to the fact that many people can't tell the difference and aren't sure how some of these ethnic groups look like.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Most versions of Heathcliff in numerous movies depicts him as having dark features and dark hair , with darker skin as well. Pretty consistent for a mixed race Romani gypsy. 
 

Less accurate would be someone with Afro hair, which I’d say is far less likely. 

Either way I think it’s a pretty silly thing to be writing pages and pages about:

Oh come on ! Really?! What do we have here - one of the few characters of color in English literature of the 19th century. Racism plays a bit role in the story. Why don't we cast Ralph Fiennes and make him look a bit darker! Laurence Olivier, Timothy Dalton, Tom Hardy - obvious casting choices!

This is like arguing that it makes perfect sense to cast Laurence Olivier or another white actor as Othello, give him blackface and act like race has no bearing to his story, even though most characters in the play are racist AF and they bring up his race in every second scene.

This is what is called whitewashing. The fact you think it's "silly to be writing pages and pages about' says a lot about these kinds of attitudes.

What I'm getting from this thread:

- if a character's race is not specified, we should assume they're white.

- if a character is explicitly described as a person of color, we should just cast a white actor and give them a fake tan. Why are you making a fuss about that?? Gee, why bring up race in a discussion about... a story that has racism as one of its themes?

Edited by Annara Snow

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Annara Snow said:

Oh come on ! Really?! This is like arguing that it makes perfect sense to cast Laurence Olivier or another white actor as Othello, give him blackface and act like race has no bearing to his story, even though most characters in the play are racist AF and they bring up his race in every second scene.

This is what is called whitewashing. The fact you think it's "silly to be writing pages and pages about' says a lot about these kinds of attitudes.

What I'm getting from this thread:

- if a character's race is not specified, we should assume they're white.

- if a character is explicitly described as a person of color, we should just cast a white actor and give them a fake tan. Why are you making a fuss about that?? Gee, why bring up race in a discussion about... a story that has racism as one of its themes?

I'm saying that if for instance Heathcliff is mixed race, half white British and half potentially Romani Gypsy.. then who exactly do you cast? If you want 100% accuracy in casting then you'll be looking a long time. A dark skinned Ralph Fiennes is just as inaccurate as afro haired James Howson, though in terms of appearance Howson might be less accurate. 

Its absolutely not the same thing as Olivier as Othello.

Edited by Heartofice

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1 minute ago, Heartofice said:

I'm saying that if for instance Heathcliff is mixed race, half white British and half potentially Romani Gypsy.. then who exactly do you cast? If you want 100% accuracy in casting then you'll be looking a long time. A dark skinned Ralph Fiennes is just as inaccurate as afro haired James Howson, though in terms of appearance Howson is the less accurate. 

Its absolutely not the same thing as Olivier as Othello.

At this point, I'm just going to facepalm.

And FYI, there are so many actors today who would actually be accurate casting, especially since WE DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT ETHNICITY HEATHCLIFF is, just that he's a brown man of color, probably mixed race., with black hair, dark eyes, relatively dark skin, perceived as racially different by the white British people around him. You could cast someone who's Roma, Indian, Pakistani, Southeast Asian, Polynesian, ,mestizo Latino, maybe Middle-Eastern. And yep, even a mixed race black actor like James Howson is a lot more accurate compared to freaking Ralph Fiennes. Ralph Fiennes would actually be a pretty accurate casting for Edgar Linton.

But why am I arguing with the person who is claiming that characters of color should be cast with white people with brownface?

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Just now, Heartofice said:

I'm saying that if for instance Heathcliff is mixed race, half white British and half potentially Romani Gypsy.. then who exactly do you cast? If you want 100% accuracy in casting then you'll be looking a long time.

The late Bob Hoskins. His grandmother was Romani.

That's it. He's basically the only English actor with known Romani heritage that I know of.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Annara Snow said:

 

At this point, I'm just going to facepalm.

And FYI, there are so many actors today who would actually be accurate casting, especially since WE DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT ETHNICITY HEATHCLIFF is, just that he's a brown man of color, probably mixed race., with black hair, dark eyes, relatively dark skin, perceived as racially different by the white British people around him. You could cast someone who's Roma, Indian, Pakistani, Southeast Asian, Polynesian, ,mestizo Latino, maybe Middle-Eastern. And yep, even a mixed race black actor like James Howson is a lot more accurate compared to freaking Ralph Fiennes. Ralph Fiennes would actually be a pretty accurate casting for Edgar Linton.

But why am I arguing with the person who is claiming that characters of color should be cast with white people with brownface?

Casting an Indian guy would be just as innaccurate, because you are forgetting that Heathcliff was half white as well. I can tell you, as someone who is half asian and half white myself I'd probably be a shoe in for the role. Casting an indian actor is exactly as inaccurate as casting a white one. 

I should also point out that most Romani gypsies I've seen are really not all that dark, certainly are lighter than your average indian and really are not the same. 

Edited by Heartofice

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Just now, Ran said:

 

The late Bob Hoskins. His grandmother was Romani.

That's it. He's basically the only English actor with known Romani heritage that I know of.

But you don't need to cast a Romani actor because we don't know if Heathcliff is actually Romani! We just know that he's a brown man of color who's perceived as racially different by the white British people around him. 

The only evidence of him being Romani is two kids from a Yorkshire village calling him a Gypsy or comparing him to the Romani (the only non-white people they've probably ever seen) and Lockwood thinking his skin is "dark like a Gypsy". We also have Mr Linton speculating that he's from Asia ("Lascar" could cover a lot - Indian subcontinent but also Southeast Asia or Arab countries) or the American colonies, and Nelly trying to comfort him by saying he could be the son of the Chinese emperor and an Indian queen.

Wuthering Heights is so vague about Heathcliff's ethnicity that you have a huge pool of actors today who would be accurate casting.

And they don't need to be British, just to fake an accent that sounds like someone who was brought to Yorkshire as a child, grew up there, spent years abroad and is said to have a "foreign sounding" accent (by Nelly, when he comes back as an adult). 

Heathcliff is a guy who's definitely not white and who's perceived as foreign by many around him. But you think that the most important thing in terms of accuracy is to cast a British actor? 
Even in that case, it's not like there aren't any mixed race British actors out there

(BTW, Bob Hoskins wouldn't be right because Healthcliff is notably tall and athletic.)

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Casting an Indian guy would be just as innaccurate, because you are forgetting that Heathcliff was half white as well. I can tell you, as someone who is half asian and half white myself I'd probably be a shoe in for the role. Casting an indian actor is exactly as inaccurate as casting a white one. 

He is PROBABLY half white. 

And why the heck not cast a half-Indian actor?

But no, it's not "just as inaccurate" to cast an Indian actor. The one thing that's most notable and important in the text is that he is PERCEIVED AS RACIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE WHITE PEOPLE AROUND HIM.

If the story took place in India and the other characters saw he was mixed race and called him "white boy" , only then it would be just as inaccurate.

Edited by Annara Snow

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Just now, Annara Snow said:

He is PROBABLY half white.

And why the heck not cast a half-Indian actor?

Everything about his race is a probably isn't it?

Yeah you could.. like who? 

But the half indian actor would also be half white.. you do realise that as well?

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Either way I think this is turning casting in movies to a level of absurdity. It is getting to the point now where actors can only play in roles in which they are 100% already like the character they are playing. If we want to get to a point where the only person who could play Heathcliff was an actor who was himself 50% white and 50% roma gypsy then you can basically forget making another version of that movie. 

The very principal of acting is the ability to play characters that aren't you. 

Sometimes a level of common sense has to be used, and less hysteria.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Either way I think this is turning casting in movies to a level of absurdity. It is getting to the point now where actors can only play in roles in which they are 100% already like the character they are playing. If we want to get to a point where the only person who could play Heathcliff was an actor who was himself 50% white and 50% roma gypsy then you can basically forget making another version of that movie. 

The very principal of acting is the ability to play characters that aren't you. 

Sometimes a level of common sense has to be used, and less hysteria.

Yes, you are being completely ABSURD.

All you need is to cast an actor who is NOT F**CKING WHITE in a role of a character who is notably NOT WHITE and is the target of racist attitudes.

What's not clicking?!??

And that "total accuracy" is just something you're making up. How many times do I have to repeat: we don' t even know what his origin is! He could be Roma, Indian, Southeast Asian, Polynesian, Arab, North African, mestizo from Latin America, because the people around him have no clue what he is and what other ethnicities look like. They're a bunch of white English people from the 18th century, most of them from a village in Yorkshire, who have barely seen a POC in their entire lives, but immediately recognize him as racially different.

But nope - let's cast white British actors who look like the book description of Edgar Linton! Let's cast white actors in the role of someone whose main description is the fact that he's not white! That makes sense.

Edited by Annara Snow

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But he’s also not Asian, or black or Chinese..  but it would be ok to cast actors of those backgrounds because they are NOT white? That’s what you are saying right?

Serious binary thinking there from you.

So essentially what you are trying to say is that you don’t in fact care about any accuracy in casting, it’s just that a white actor can not possibly ever be cast in a role of someone of mixed background because what.. they can’t identify with the character? 

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

But he’s also not Asian, or black or Chinese..  but it would be ok to cast actors of those backgrounds because they are NOT white? That’s what you are saying right?

Serious binary thinking there from you.

So essentially what you are trying to say is that you don’t in fact care about any accuracy in casting, it’s just that a white actor can not possibly ever be cast in a role of someone of mixed background because what.. they can’t identify with the character? 

Pretty sure Chinese are Asian, but anyway...

Actually, Nelly Dean thought he could be part Chinese. Didn't you read the quotes I posted? "Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen," (Sounds to me like she could be describing someone of Southeast Asian origin for instance,, but she just doesn't know what they look like.)

While no one thought he was white or part white. We can just extrapolate that from the fact his son turns out pale and blue eyed and blond (though who knows how much Emily Bronte knew about genetics).

If you want a casting suggestion, for instance, Bob Morley (Bellamy from The 100) who's half Filipino and half Irish Australian would be great. But there many other actors who would fit, of a wide range of ethnicities, since the text is very vague and mysterious on what Heathcliff's origins actually are. You could cast anyone from a British actor of  Indian or Pakistani origin, to a Latino mestizo actor (after all, Mr Linton also thinks Heathcliff could be "American or Spanish castaway" if he's not "Lascar" (a person from South Asia or Southeast Asia or West Asia).. Or a New Zealand actor of Maori origin (and almost all the Maori actors I can think of are part white). (ETA: Manu Bennett would here been a good pick some 15-20 years ago. Temeura Morrison some 25-30 years ago. A bit short but could look tall. There are plenty of possibilities. They just have to be able to do some accent that's not even the Yorkshire accent but an accent that sounds part Yorkshire and part 'foreign' according to Nelly.

It's really absurd that you claim to be all about "accuracy" for a character whose origins are vague and mysterious, just so you would argue that it makes sense to cast white actors in that role, when the only thing we know for sure and that's important for the story is that he's  perceived as 'dark' and racially different by the white people around him and suffers racism for it.

 

Edited by Annara Snow

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Also, since we're mentioning Fiennes repeatedly, I adore his performance. There's a savagery to some of the scenes, and he delivers just the right smoldering. Less mannered a performance than Olivier's, but that's simply different eras. The casting I always had a problem with was Juliette Binoche, who's a marvelous actress, but they never explain why this Frenchwoman is a member of the family from the moors of Yorkshire. Couldn't quite get around her accent slipping through almost constantly. (They're terrific together when they reunite in The English Patient though. Love that film.)

 

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