Five fascinating film and TV facts #88

From Oona Chaplin's famous ancestors to Lisa Kudrow's double trouble and Harry Potter's magic numbers

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Chaplin is hardly an uncommon surname. You don’t expect those who carry it to be related to the most famous Chaplin of them all, Charlie, but that’s exactly the case for Game of Thrones star Oona Chaplin – full name Oona Castilla Chaplin – who is the daughter of actress Geraldine Chaplin. 

Geraldine was herself the offspring of Charlie and his fourth wife Oona O’Neill Chaplin (whom actress Oona is named after). But that’s not the full extent of her impressive lineage. Oona O’Neill Chaplin was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill and was just 18 years old when she chose to marry Charlie, then 53 – a decision that caused a lifelong rift with her famous father.

Oona isn’t the only Game of Thrones star with famous ancestors either. Harry Lloyd – who played Viserys Targaryen in season one – is the great great grandson of Charles Dickens.

Friends fans will know full well that Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe Buffay has an evil twin, Ursula. But American television viewers were introduced to Ursula Buffay long before Central Perk became the world’s favourite coffee house.

At the time she was offered a part on Friends, Kudrow was already appearing on US sitcom Mad About You (which starred Helen Hunt) as a waitress named Ursula Buffay. Friends initially aired straight after Mad About You’s time slot on NBC so, in a move to avoid confusion among viewers, show bosses decided to make her Friends character Phoebe a twin. 

When Ryan Gosling first cast Matt Smith in his directorial debut, Lost River, it was the Doctor Who actor’s first major Hollywood role – and it turns out it was the Doctor who won him it. Speaking at a screening earlier this year, Gosling revealed it was a scene from the BBC sci-fi series that convinced him Smith was the man for the job. 

“One day I was watching TV. I heard Matt Smith’s voice coming at me,” explained The Notebook and Drive actor. “It was Doctor Who and there was an episode where he was in a car screaming at these aliens and telling them where to go. Like a boss. Just telling all these spaceships what was what.

“As an actor I know that’s pretty hard to do, because I’m pretty sure those spaceships weren’t there. I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’

“There’s no-one like him. He’s like one of those actors from the Seventies, just themselves and nobody else. I said, ‘I have to work with that guy.’ So I tracked him down.”

R2D2 is one of a string of Star Wars characters set to return to the franchise when The Force Awakens is released in December. His squeaks and whistles are created by sound designer and voice actor Ben Burtt who is also responsible for creating the heavy breathing noises made by Star Wars villain Darth Vader using an old scuba regulator.

But Burtt is famous for providing the voice of another well-known character: WALL-E. He voiced the title character in the 2008 Pixar film about a lonely robot garbage collector, a role which saw him nominated for an Oscar.

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Remember in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry is accompanied by Mr Weasley to a hearing at the Ministry of Magic? In order to gain access to the inconspicuous government building, Mr Weasley punches a special number into the visitors’ entrance – disguised as an old-fashioned telephone box. That number is “six…two…four…and another four…and another two…” Plug that into your phone keypad and you’ll see it spells the word “MAGIC”. How we love JK Rowling.