WATN: The Blair Witch Project Actors

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WATN: The Blair Witch Project Actors

The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American found footage horror film written, directed and edited by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.  The film was produced by the Haxan Films production company.  The film relates the story of three student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard) who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch.  The viewers are told the three were never seen or heard from again, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) was discovered a Daniel Myrick (left) and Eduardo Sánchez (right)year later and that this "recovered footage" is the film the viewer is watching.

The film received enormously positive reception from critics and went on to gross over US$248 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful independent movies of all time.  The DVD was released on Tuesday, October 26, 1999 and presented only in full-screen.

A sequel was released on October 27, 2000 titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.  Another sequel was planned for the following year, but did not materialize.  On September 2, 2009, it was announced that Sánchez and Myrick were pitching the third film.  A trilogy of video games based on the film was released in 2000.

For those with short memories or have been living under a bridge, Let Us Review!

 

The Blair Witch Project(1999)

  • Genre: Horror – Mystery
  • Directed:
    • Daniel Myrick
    • Eduardo Sánchez
  • Produced:
    • Robin Cowie
    • Bob Eick
    • Kevin J. Foxe
    • Gregg Hale
    • Michael Monello
  • Written:
    • Daniel Myrick
    • Eduardo Sánchez
  • Starring: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams, Bob Griffin, Jim King, Sandra Sánchez, Ed Swanson, Patricia DeCou, Mark Mason, Jackie Hallex
  • Music: Tony Cora
  • Cinematography: Neal Fredericks
  • Editing:
    • Daniel Myrick
    • Eduardo Sánchez
  • Studio: Haxan Films
  • Distributed:
    • 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
    • Alliance Atlantis Communications
    • Artisan Entertainment
    • Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment
    • Pathé
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 30 July 1999
  • Running Time: 81 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Combining Hi-8 video with black-and-white 16 mm film, this film presents a raw look at what can happen when college students forego common sense and enter the world of voodoo and witchcraft.  Presented as a straightforward documentary, the film opens with a title card explaining that in 1994, three students went into the Maryland back woods to do a film project on the Blair Witch incidents.  These kids were never seen again, and the film you are about to see is from their recovered equipment, found in the woods a year later.  The entire movie documents their adventures leading up to their final minutes.  The Blair Witch incident, as we initially learn from the local town elders, is an old legend about a group of witches who tortured and killed several children many years ago.  Everyone in town knows the story and they're all sketchy on the details.  Out in the woods and away from their parked car (and civilization), what starts as a school exercise turns into a nightmare when the three kids lose their map.  Forced to spend extra days finding their way out, the kids then start to hear horrific sounds outside their tents in the pitch-black middle of night.  They also find strange artifacts from (what can only be) the Blair Witch, still living in the woods.  Frightened, they desperately try to find their way out of the woods, with no luck. Slowly these students start to unravel, knowing they have no way of getting out, no food, and it's getting cold.  Each night they are confronted with shrieking and sounds so haunting that they are convinced someone is following them, and they quickly begin to fear for their lives.  The film premiered in the midnight movie section at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.

Heather Donahue

Donahue was born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania on December 22, 1974, the daughter of Joan (an office manager) and James Donahue (a printer).

Donahue came to public attention after appearing as the lead character in Haxan Films' 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project.  She then appeared in an array of independent films, as well as guest appearances on several television shows, most notably for her starring role in the science fiction miniseries Taken and a guest appearance on the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  In 2001, she hosted the 1999 edition of BBC2's I Love the '90s.

In 2011, Donahue signed a publishing deal for her debut book GROWGIRL, about her time as a medical marijuana grower, which was released on January 5, 2012 by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA.

 

Year

Title

Character

1999 The Blair Witch Project Heather Donahue
2000 Boys and Girls Megan
2000 Home Field Advantage Wendy Waitress

2001

The Outer Limits (TV Series)

“The Surrogate”

Claire Linkwood

2001 Seven and a Match Whit
2001 The Velvet Tigress (Short) Voice Over
2002 The Walking Hack of Asbury Park (Short) Wendy
2002 New Suit Molly
2002 The Big Time (TV Movie) Herself
2002 Taken (TV Mini-Series) Mary Crawford - Adult
2003 Without a Trace (TV Series)

”The Friendly Skies”
Linda Schmidt

2005

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

“Charlie Wants an Abortion”

Stacy Corvelli

2005 Manticore (TV Movie) Cpl. Keats
2008 The Morgue Nan

 

Michael C. Williams

Michael C. Williams (born July 25, 1973) is an American actor, famous for his role (using his own name) for the movie The Blair Witch Project.  Williams also acted in the television program Law & Order during February 2000 as a man whose ex-wife killed their son.  In 2008 Williams appeared in the movie The Objective.

Williams was born in The Bronx, New York and attended Westlake High School in Thornwood, New York.  He graduated from SUNY New Paltz.  He is also a national member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity of New Paltz.

Williams is the manager of the Big Blue Door Theater, based in Hawthorne, New York.  During 2009 it was reported that he was studying to become a guidance counselor.

 

Year

Title

Character

1999

The Blair Witch Project

Michael 'Mike' Williams

2000

Law & Order (TV Series)

“Mother's Milk”

Jimmy Beltran

2000

Sally

Lap

2002

Twelve City Blocks

Gizmo

2002

Long Story Short

Tommy

2003

Without a Trace (TV Series)

“There Goes the Bride”

Brad

2006

Altered

Otis

2007

Montclair

Joel

2008

The Objective

Sgt. Trinoski

2009

The Midnight Drive in Presents: Stay Out of the Woods (Short)

Deputy Cravens

2009

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (TV Series)

“Snatched“

Pete Rinaldi

2013

Four Corners of Fear (Video short)

Michael C Williams

 

Joshua Leonard

Leonard was born (June 17, 1975) in Houston, Texas, the son of Joann, an author, and Robert Leonard, a theater professor.  He was raised in central Pennsylvania.  When he was six, he was convinced by his father to appear in plays like Life With Father.  However, when he reached his teens, he decided he did not want to act.  He pushed to obtain his GED at age 16 and underwent survival training with Outward Bound as preparation for a year and a half stay in Mexico where he volunteered with a youth services organization.  After teaching poor children in Puebla, working as a gardener and an anthropologist's assistant in Chiapas, and hiking through the jungles of Central and South America, Leonard returned to the United States to spend a year at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  He then left school again, and decided to head to Manhattan and try his luck as a filmmaker and photographer.  Leonard learned his trade on the job, working as a darkroom tech at The New School for Social Research, and in the equipment room at the New York Film Academy.

In New York, Leonard found work taking portraits of musicians, and eventually landed a job as the first staff photographer for BlackBook Magazine.  His career in film began soon after, when he went to work for the outré experimental and documentary film company, Mystic Fire Video.  There, Leonard was involved with films with subjects ranging from famed beat poet Allen Ginsburg, to the Dalai Lama and comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell.

In 1998, he auditioned for and landed one of the three principal roles in The Blair Witch Project.  Although he reportedly only earned an initial salary of $500, the experience proved rewarding in other ways as the film combined acting and photography – two things he enjoyed.  After the premier screening at Sundance Film Festival and the subsequent hype of the film, Leonard found himself in the spotlight, appearing on magazine covers and getting roles for other movies.

Leonard has since appeared in numerous films and television shows as an actor, including HBO's Live From Baghdad, Allison Anders' Things Behind the Sun, In the Weeds, starring Eric Bogosian and Molly Ringwald, Men of Honor with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robert De Niro, and the thriller Bitter Feast.  He starred in the Independent Spirit Award winning 2009 film Humpday, for which he won Best Actor at the Gijón International Film Festival.  Leonard has also appeared on the acclaimed HBO series Hung and the Showtime series United States of Tara.

Leonard directed the short film The Youth in Us, which was shown at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.  Art documentary Beautiful Losers followed, winning the Grand Jury Prize at CineVegas in 2008.  He has also directed music videos for many popular acts, such as Morcheeba, Harper Simon, and Fitz and the Tantrums, as well as teaching directing and acting at The New York Film Academy, UC Irvine, and Academia Internacional De Cinema in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Leonard had two Sundance favorites released in 2012.  As an actor, he starred in Vera Farmiga's directorial debut Higher Ground, playing a man at odds with his wife (Farmiga).  He also co-wrote, directed and starred in The Lie, a devilish morality tale adapted from the story by acclaimed author T.C. Boyle.  The project, co-starred independent actors Mark Webber, Jess Weixler, and Jane Adams, and was warmly received by audiences and critics alike.

I would have broken it all down in table form but Mr. Leonard has had quite the career with over thirty film acting credits alone.  Add his television and directorial work and we would have been here for a long time.

 

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