The Billionaire
Hi Magazine|Series 18 Volume 5 - 2020
BASED ON GEORGE BERNARD SHAW’S PLAY THE MILLIONAIRESS, GEHAN COORAY’S FILM THE BILLIONAIRE WINS ACCLAIMED BURBANK AWARD IN HOLLYWOOD
Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Making his mark in Hollywood, the mecca of the global film industry, Sri Lankan born American citizen Gehan Cooray’s film ‘The Billionaire’ won the Best Comedy Feature Award at the Burbank International Film Festival in September 2020, having also been nominated for the Best Feature Film overall at this prestigious industry festival.

The film was directed by Michael Philip, although Cooray held final creative control as the Executive Producer and also wrote the screenplay based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, The Millionairess. Shot on location in Canada on a budget a tad over a million US dollars the film’s post-production was done at Warner Bros personally supervised by Cooray in his capacity as the Executive producer.

The cast includes seven-time Emmy Award-winning actress Heather Tom from The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless); Jordan Belfi from hit TV series Entourage; Davi Santos, known for his work in the Power Rangers TV franchise; and Randy Wayne from The Dukes of Hazzard and numerous Hallmark channel films.

Cooray who lives in Los Angeles is back in Sri Lanka on a Covid-19 induced lengthy break, and is further enjoying the fruits of his labour as The Billionaire has also been submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, having become eligible for both Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominations. His film is currently on the online Academy Screening Room (the Oscars’ own exclusive streaming platform) under the ‘Best Picture’ category, for Oscar voters to watch it along with the other ‘Best Picture’ contenders.

The multitalented Cooray has been referred to as a “multi-hyphenate” by Marc Cherry, the creator of Desperate Housewives, a testament to Cooray’s innate skills in acting and singing. An alumni of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts and Psychology, along with Renaissance Scholar and Discovery Scholar honors. Cooray is known in different circles as an Operatic Baritone Singer, Actor, Independent Filmmaker, Screenwriter, and Director.

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