x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Who's who on the red carpet

DIFF this year will be glittering with stars and Oscar-winners, including Cate Blanchett, Kevin Spacey and Rooney Mara.

DIFF should be awash with Oscar-winners this year. But don't start practising your screams until you've read our handy guide with facts to impress your friends.

Cate Blanchett

Probably one of the most celebrated actors of her generation, this multi-award-winning (including an Oscar) Australian joins us fresh from having donned the famed elven ears of Galadriel one last time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which goes on general release next Thursday). She comes to DIFF as head of the jury for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award. Ask her to say "Frodo of the Shire" in that whispy voice - we dare you.

Films: Elizabeth, The Lord of the Rings, The Aviator, Babel, I'm Not There

Fact: Blanchett was such as fan of Shaun of the Dead that she was given an uncredited cameo role as Simon Pegg's ex-girlfriend Janine in Hot Fuzz.

Colin Firth

Just try keeping Firthy away from DIFF - you can't. Two appearances in three years isn't bad for the man who has had the knees of numerous women knocking since his Mr Darcy first flung himself into the water in 1995's Pride and Prejudice.

Last time he was here, it was with The King's Speech (and we all know what happened with that). This time it's with his wife Livia to support the One Night to Change Lives charity evening in support of Oxfam and Dubai Cares.

Films: Bridget Jones's Diary, The King's Speech, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Fact: In 2010, Firth commissioned a study into politicians' brains, and is credited as a co-author of an academic paper that suggested conservatives have greater volume in the amygdala and liberals have greater volume in the anterior cingulate cortex. Thought so.

Kevin Spacey

Keyser Söze is no stranger to the region, having been in Dubai early last year with his Kevin Spacey Foundation and to Qatar last December for two performances of Richard III and several acting workshops.

He hasn't been quite so prolific of late, last appearing in the short Envelope by the Russian director Aleksey Nuzhny and 2011's Chinese dramedy Inseparable (reportedly as the first Hollywood actor to star in a Chinese production), but we'll always remember him as The Usual Suspects' Verbal Kint.

Films:The Usual Suspects, LA Confidential, American Beauty

Fact: Kevin's older brother Randy Fowler is a Rod Stewart impersonator.

Cuba Gooding Jr

"Show me the money! Show me the money!" That's right, Jerry Maguire's Rod Tidwell is scheduled to jet into town (not for a film; he's just a "friend of the festival", apparently).

Since earning an Academy Award as Tom Cruise's prize wide receiver, Gooding Jr's output hasn't been quite so celebrated. He's had five Golden Raspberry nominations and in the past few years many of his films have gone directly to DVD. But we're looking forward to seeing him in the forthcoming Machete Kills alongside Lady Gaga.

Films: Jerry Maguire, Men of Honor, Norbit, Red Tails

Fact: As a young breakdancer, Gooding Jr performed with Lionel Richie at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Rooney Mara

From her brief stint as the inspiration behind Facebook in The Social Network, Mara was thrust into our conscious as the "troubled" computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. While there's no firm news yet regarding its sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, Mara has been filming Terrence Malick's next film, Lawless, and has also signed up to appear in Steven Soderbergh and Spike Jonze projects. Being somewhat white of face, she might want to remember the suncream for her Dubai visit.

Films: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Fact: Rooney's mother founded the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team and her father's family founded the New York Giants.

Amr Waked

A regular at regional film festivals, the Egyptian superstar has also become an increasingly frequent face in Hollywood titles, starting with Syriana and more recently in Contagion and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. He comes to DIFF this year with the politically charged Arab Spring drama Winter of Discontent, in which he plays an activist blogger detained by Egyptian security forces.

Films: Ashab walla Business, Dail el Samakah, Syriana, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Fact: Waked was one of the leading names trying to boycott last year's Cannes screening of 18 Days, in which he starred, because some of those involved with the film had previously supported Hosni Mubarak.