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Six degrees

Mark Peters


Martin Freeman plays the inquisitive, vertically challenged Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, the J.R.R. Tolkien classic that is set to be one of the festive season’s biggest movies when it’s released in Hong Kong this week. Early in his career the cuddly British actor, whom internet users have decided resembles a hedgehog, appeared alongside comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as sidekick to the latter’s mock ghetto rapper and politically incorrect interviewer, Ali G. Among his many on-screen cameos, Freeman also featured in the music video for I Started a Joke by American funk metallists Faith No More …


The San Francisco Bay Area band hit the height of their success in 1989 with the rap-rock single Epic. Over the next decade, lead singer Mike Patton garnered praise for his versatile vocals but rock stardom did not sit well with him. His live performances became more volatile as his disdain for the music industry and the debauched lifestyles of other rock stars grew. During one performance the crowd “adoringly” pelted the band with bottles of urine; Patton’s response was to empty a full container over his own head. Erratic behaviour that would have made Courtney Love, briefly the band’s singer in the early 1980s, proud …


The actress, musician and widow of grunge icon Kurt Cobain has struggled throughout her life with substance abuse and other problems. As a practising Buddhist, Love has often credited her faith and the benefits of daily chanting with helping her through years of depression and anxiety. Labelled by Rolling Stone as “the most controversial woman in the history of rock” a pre-fame Love made her entertainment debut working the pole at Jumbo’s Clown Room, a topless bar in Los Angeles said to have inspired the movie Blue Velvet, written and directed by Jumbo patron David Lynch …


The surrealist filmmaker is an advocate of achieving world peace through transcendental meditation, a technique he has practised since 1973. The movement was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who later became spiritual adviser to The Beatles, and, in 2003, Lynch developed a close relationship with the guru during the “millionaires’ enlightenment course”, a month-long retreat with a staggering US$1 million fee. Lynch’s film The Elephant Man featured a celebrated performance by John Hurt CBE …


The growly voiced thespian was a member of one of the hardest drinking tribes ever to have raised bottle to lips. With supping mates as hell-raising as Oliver Reed and Richard Harris, the 72-year-old once claimed he got through seven bottles of wine a day. Hurt humbly describes his illustrious career, now spanning more than six decades, as “not bad for an ol’ drunk”. Earlier this year, he received a Bafta for “outstanding British contribution to cinema”. The award was presented to him by the inimitable polymath Stephen Fry …


The bi-polar genius and British national treasure is a self-confessed gadget addict. He has been a long-time admirer of all things Apple and, in 1984, was the second person in Europe to purchase the original Macintosh computer. The geek one step ahead of him in the queue was a good friend, science-fiction author Douglas Adams. Among Fry’s everexpanding body of work was his movie narration of Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The film’s hapless protagonist, Arthur Dent, was played by a dressing-gowned Martin Freeman.




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