Tuesday, June 30, 2009


C.J. Box reading.

What actor is fearless on the screen? Or, expressed another way, lacks ego or vanity in taking on unglamorous parts when they probably don't have to.

I nominate Edie Falco. In Nurse Jackie, she is no glamor puss. Philip Seymour Hoffman comes close. Who else? Maybe Brian Cranston?



Unknown said...

I'm probably going to get yelled at for saying this, but, Brad Pitt. The guy has a long history of playing down and dirty roles. Same thing for Christian Bale, his pre-Batman roles were all strong--normally gritty--character pieces.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't always like Pitt, but he does play a variety of parts. Esp. in the recent Cohn Bros film. Christian Bale can't help but be gorgeous, but he does it in different ways.

Todd Mason said...

Not yelling, but I don't think Pitt is particularly good at the admittedly reasonably broad range he's attempted. In some things, such as TWELVE MONKEYS, he's awful.

Hm. Bravery isn't just taking unglam parts...but in not hamming and still getting to a tough emotional place. Hell, Tom Arnold, of all people, was pretty brave in his child molestor role last year, for example, and more adept than one might expect. Just saw a French/Morrocan film called RAJA the other night in which the leads did a remarkable job of portraying people who are too damaged to choose bother to actually talk to each other, despite having a budding romance, with personally disatrous consequences.

Steve Brewer said...

Remember Charlize Theron in "Monster?"

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, yes, that's a good example indeed. What happened to her? Actresses seem to fall off the earth around 40.

Michael Padgett said...

I'd certainly agree about Falco. Cranston is amazing in "Breaking Bad", but I don't think I've ever seen him in anything else. I'd nominate Sean Penn, who seems to be willing to tackle almost anything, including (as they called it in "Tropic Thunder") going "full retard" in "I Am Sam". He's probably not lacking in ego though--he's just good and he knows it. Or, as Mohammed Ali said in his prime, "it ain't braggin' if you can do it."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Penn is amazing-but I think his ego demands he takes the parts he does. It's sort of the same... but different.

George said...

I think Stockard Channing is an underrated actress who may not have achieved great success because she tried a variety of roles. There's a downside to choosing risky roles rather than cashing in on proven crowd pleasers. Robert Downey, Jr. fell into this category before IRON MAN.

Ed Gorman said...

I'd nominate Jackie Gleason for his role in a half good movie with Tom Hanks called Nothing In Common. We first encounter him as a cold selfish prick who has cheated on his wife all their long married life and shown no interest in their now grown son played by Hanks. There is a Willy Lomanesque where Gleason, a lifelong salesman, loses his job but even then he doesn't allow us to like or understand him. He just gets drunk and spurns Hanks' attempts to help him once again. If it had been a better movie Gleason might have gotten an Oscar nod for best supporting.

Corey Wilde said...

Two: Tommy Lee Jones and Brian Dennehy. And I would love to see them on screen together again. (The only one I can recall they were both in is The River Rat.)

Anyway, they can play good guys, bad guys, smart, crazy, all of it, and make it look natural.

Todd Mason said...

Penn is my idea of a terrible ham, if not...quite...down to the level of Anthony Hopkins.

Cranston, of course, has mostly done more thoroughly comedic roles previously, as in MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE.

There have been two sets of jokes circulating for some years, to the effect that anyone playing a mentally retarded character (such as Penn, absolutely awful in I AM SAM) or any pretty woman who plays "ugly" (such as Theron in MONSTER) are automatic Oscar bait.

Meanwhile, Theron, pushing 35, has five years or so left by that rule, and has the following recent projects listed in IMDb:

The Ice at the Bottom of the World (2010) (in production) (rumored) .... Lisa Lee Doodlum
The Danish Girl (2010) (in production) (rumored) .... Greta Wegener
The Brazilian Job (2011) (announced) .... Stella Bridger
The Road (2009) (post-production) .... Wife

The Burning Plain (2008) .... Sylvia
Hancock (2008) .... Mary Embrey
... aka Hidden from Earth (Philippines: English title: review title)
Sleepwalking (2008) .... Joleen
Battle in Seattle (2007) .... Ella
In the Valley of Elah (2007) .... Det. Emily Sanders

The next credit after that was voice work in ROBOT CHICKEN, another of those Adult Swim Cartoon Network shows (and one of the better ones).

Todd Mason said...

We Are All Nan Higginson. And Blogger is a very well-oiled machine.

sandra seamans said...

I watched Cranston when he played the father in Malcolm in the Middle and I kept shaking my head because you rarely see an actor make a total ass of himself for a role, but he did and it worked. Excellent actor.

Julianne Moore is another actor who isn't afraid to take chances. I loved her in Cookie's Fortune and the part she played in The Big Leibowski (sp?) was totally off the wall. And she took my breath away in The End of the Affair. Can you tell I'm a fan?

Dana King said...

Meryl Streep comes to mind. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw she did more than a cameo in STUCK ON YOU.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love Julianne Moore. Have you seen SAFE? Stockard Channing-what was that film where she was a business woman having an affair. TLJ-can do no wrong. I loved his final scene in NO COUNTRY. God, Theron has many fingers in the pie. How did I miss them? When I was a child, Jackie Gleason scared me to death. I actually had a ballet teacher that looked just like him. Perhaps it was he that scared me. I remember that movie well.

Randy Johnson said...

I'd say Alan Alda qualifies as taking risks in his roles. Both before and after M*A*S*H, he's taken roles a little off the beaten path.
Before, he played a moonshiner in the Elmore Leonard based The Moonshine War. After, he's had several meaningful roles up to his stint as the conservative politician on The Left Wing, completely opposite from his own views.