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Ken Russell

Controversial British director Ken Russell - best known for the 1975 film “Tommy” – died on Sunday at the age of 84.

Russell’s biggest commercial success was his trippy adaptation of The Who’s rock opera, starring Roger Daltrey as the title character. The film also featured Eric Clapton, Jack Nicholson, Tina Turner and Elton John. But there’s much more to Russell’s long and fascinating career than “Tommy.” Here are five facts worth noting.

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Ben Whishaw

Welcome to the big time, Ben Whishaw! The 31-year-old Brit has been cast as Q in "Skyfall," the 23rd James Bond film.

If you’ve only seen the Bond movies of the Daniel Craig era, you may not be familiar with Q, so here's some background info: Q is not really a name, but a job description (like Judi Dench's M). As the head of MI6's Q division, Q provides our hero with all of the gadgets he requires to get his missions done. Need an invisible car? Underwater jet pack? Explosives disguised as toothpaste? Then Q's your man!

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John Neville

British actor John Neville passed away late last week at the age of 86. Theater buffs might remember him as a respected Shakespearean actor who appeared in every one of the Bard’s plays; movie mavens might know him from his starring role in Terry Gilliam’s “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen."

But to me, John Neville was and always will be The Well-Manicured Man.

If you’re not an X-Phile I have a bit of explanation for you (we can discuss exactly why you’re not an X-Phile some other time): On Chris Carter’s groundbreaking TV show “The X-Files,” John Neville played one of several nameless recurring characters (the most infamous being Cigarette Smoking Man). CSM and Well-Manicured Man were members of the Syndicate, an international group of super-secretive movers and shakers who tried to thwart the efforts of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in their search for the truth about extra-terrestrials.

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Regis

If you’ve ever watched daytime or late-night TV it’s very likely you’ve seen Regis Philbin in action – he’s been a constant presence there for the past several decades. This morning he made his final appearance as co-host of “Live! With Regis and Kelly” (formerly “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee”); it’s a gig he’s had for the past 28 years.

Though Reeg is most closely associated with television (he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most hours logged on the air), he’s also made many film appearances over the years. Here are five notable ones, in chronological order.

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Jump Street

Is "21 Jump Street" just another movie based on an old '80s TV show? Judging by the red-band trailer that was just released for the 2012 big-screen update of the long-ago hit show, we're going to go out on a limb and say it's a whole lot more than that.

Has the trailer left you wondering what that TV show was all about? Click past the jump and we'll school you on all the basics!

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Much Ado

Some interesting news is making its way around the Whedonverse this morning: As if he didn’t already have his hands full helming a little flick called "The Avengers," apparently Joss Whedon has shot a film based on William Shakespeare's play "Much Ado About Nothing."

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Hugh Jackman is, quite possibly, the perfect man. He sings, he dances, he can do comedy and drama and action and romance, he’s easy on the eyes. But most importantly, he’s a nice guy. So what’s this all-around good bloke doing playing bad dad Charlie Kenton in “Real Steel”? Or Drover in “Australia”? Or Wolverine?

Jackman told MTV News that he was brought up “to be polite to people, be nice, kind, respectful.” Because of his natural gentlemanly state, he’s attracted to characters that are considerably less than perfect.

“I think I’m pretty boring,” Jackman said. “I much prefer the rebellious, slightly wilder people.” He pointed out that his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, “was expelled from 12 schools or something.”

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Edgar Ramirez kills people. On screen. He played an assassin in “The Bourne Ultimatum” and international terrorist Carlos the Jackal in the Sundance Channel miniseries “Carlos,” for which he earned an Emmy nomination this year.

When MTV News caught up with him on the Emmys red carpet, Ramirez talked about his next killer role: Ares, god of war and violence, in the “Clash of the Titans” sequel, "Wrath of the Titans," scheduled for release in March, 2012.

“He wasn’t hugged enough,” said Ramirez of his character. “He’s a wounded, damaged kid, you know?”

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Darth VaderIt doesn’t take a lot of provocation to get sci-fi geeks griping (believe me, I’ve done my share). And perhaps the one subject that has prompted the most passionate protest over the past few decades is George Lucas messing with Star Wars.

The current cause for concern is the rumored changes to the original trilogy for the "Star Wars" Blu-ray debut, scheduled for release on September 16. Specifically, it’s the supposed addition of Darth Vader crying “Nooooooo!” as his son, Luke Skywalker, is electrocuted by his boss, Emperor Palpatine, that’s got fans complaining once again.

After watching this “new-and-improved” scene a couple of times, I have strong suspicions regarding its legitimacy. But if this change has indeed been made by Lucas, I have no choice but to join the rebellion and exclaim - if only in my brain – WTF?

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Snow WhiteA few years ago I explored the phenomenon of “dueling movies” -- a pair of flicks with the same subject matter that are developed and released by different studios almost simultaneously.

By that time, penguins, pigs, bugs, volcanoes, magicians, Scottish heroes and Truman Capote had all gotten the dueling movie treatment. Since then there have been more double-takes on screen: notable examples include films about shopping mall security guards (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Observe and Report” in 2009) and films about pals who have sex (“No Strings Attached” and “Friends With Benefits” in 2011).

And the trend continues. Universal Pictures and Relativity Media have been engaged in a wicked witch-style battle over little people lover Snow White. On the other end of the character spectrum, infamous porn star Linda Lovelace now has two teams fighting for her honor as well, with Malin Ackerman starring in one biopic scheduled for release in 2012 and Olivia Wilde expressing interest in another.

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