We’ve all got them, those certain actors and actresses that force us to throw caution to the wind and watch a movie even if it has had nothing but bad press.
These performers will mostly likely have come to our attention in the first place because of a role in a fantastic movie, but no matter what missteps their subsequent career might take, what blips may pepper their otherwise flawless CV, we will be with them all the way, paying the ticket price and Supporting Our Star.
Of course some guys and gals in film land are yet to tarnish their records, whilst others have done so more than once.
Here then, are 5 talents whose name on a credit list is enough to wet my whistle.
In no particular order;
Emma Thompson has an unflinching ability to make a fool of herself because at heart she is a comedienne. However she is probably better known for her dramatic and elegant roles in the likes of Sense and Sensibility and Much Ado About Nothing than for her deceptive turns in Stranger Than Fiction or Primary Colors.
For me her best performances are where she is able to display both elements of these personae; as Nanny McPhee– the grouch and hag turned Poppins; as Prof Trelawny in Harry Potter- goofy and slapstick yet demoralised and destroyed; even Kate in Last Chance Harvey– all at sea amid the hustle and bustle until a gentle fool causes her to simply take a breath and relax.
FILM THAT WON ME OVER: LOVE ACTUALLY
FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: JUNIOR
I used to be afraid of Donald Sutherland. I remember seeing Don’t Look Now late one night and feeling like I could never read Little Red Riding Hood again.
Then my dad sat me down and made me watch Kelly’s Heroes and M*A*S*H; two films made practically back to back in which Sutherland plays almost identical character’s; carefree, hedonistic chauvinist types that care more about themselves than they do about ‘The Cause’.
Sutherland is on my list mostly because he seems to be eking out a career in those scene-stealing wise-words-from-the-old-guard roles that audiences will be familiar with. The parts played with relish by people like Elliot Gould, Martin Sheen, Michael Caine, Michael Gambon, even Max Von Sydow. Any of those men could be on this list right now, because they are the sorts that help to raise the gravitas of a film- and know how to have fun with an otherwise developmental character.
Sutherland pips all the rest to the post (wordplay) for one simple reason; he is Jack Bauer’s dad- ‘nuff said.
FILM THAT WON ME OVER: M*A*S*H
FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: SPACE COWBOYS/ VIRUS/ BEERFEST – To be fair he’s been in a lot of shit over the years!)
A name that many may not be familiar with (or necessarily sure how to pronounce) but a face that lots will recognise, Ejiofor is a British actor that slapped me across the face with a knock out performance in a fantastic film (Serenity) and when I then looked into his past credits I realised I had seen him in loads of other awesome films.
Now making a name for himself in the U.S (although in admittedly similar roles each time- let’s hope he can move away from Sympathetic Agent/Bureaucrat Man sooner rather than later) Chiwetel Ejiofor is also an actor who has stayed close to his lower budget roots, and so for every Salt there is a Redbelt, for every Inside Man there is a Melinda and Melinda, and for every 2012 (eurgh!) there is a Children of Men. An acting force to be reckoned with; and apparently the next Denzel Washington (racist!).
FILM THAT WON ME OVER: SERENITY
FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: 2012
What is there to say about George that hasn’t been written a hundred times before?
The man simply oozes charisma and in my opinion is probably the closest thing Hollywood has these days to the old school cinematic icons of James Stewart and Cary Grant. It’s hard to imagine him in any role that doesn’t involve him wearing a dinner suit with the top button undone, and the thing I love most about Clooney is that he doesn’t seem afraid to poke fun at himself.
In Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Clooney showed a genuine knack for comedy timing and emotional subtlety that he has carried with him since in the likes of the Ocean’s Trilogy and Intolerable Cruelty– one of his most underrated performances if you ask me.
Susceptible to the odd misstep too (his cameos aren’t fantastic and The Men Who Stared At Goats was more crap than crazy) George Clooney at least manages to always have a smile on his face and looks like someone who is simply enjoying the ride.
FILM THAT WON ME OVER: THREE KINGS
FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: WELCOME TO COLLINWOOD (even I can’t forgive BATMAN & ROBIN)
I won’t lie to you; I haven’t seen that many films starring Mathieu Amalric. But those that I have seen have shown me an actor that is incredibly versatile and talented.
Amalric is probably best known to English speaking audiences for his performance as Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace (one of those weasel-esque villains as opposed to the thuggish sort) but I first saw him in The Diving Bell and The Butterly, the true story of Jean-Do Bauby the Elle editor who was completely paralyzed after a stroke and could only communicate by blinking.
Amalric is magnetic in a role that requires practically no movement whatsoever, and since then I have been hooked, turning up to see him in safer European territory like A Christmas Tale, and more recently in a more supporting capacity as a policeman in Alain Resnais’ madcap Wild Grass.
Hardly likely to leave an impression on American cinema in the way that Gerard Depardieu has done, Mathieu Amalric is undoubtedly a brighter talent than that bumbling stereotype and hopefully will receive more recognition from the mainstream crowd in the future.
FILM THAT WON ME OVER: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
FILM THAT I CAN FORGIVE: I haven’t seen him in anything rubbish yet.
So there you have it. Hardly a comprehensive list (there are so many other actors and actresses vying for a position in my top 5) but perhaps simply a glimpse into the type of performers that leave me yearning for more.
Now it’s your turn; Who would end up in your top 5? Who wouldn’t? Let me know below. I’ll give you one of mine to get you started…Lisa Kudrow puts me off movies like mouldy bread puts me off sandwiches…
*Point of notice. All of the above performers should be considered to pale in significance to one Ben Affleck, a man I have nothing but love and admiration for, and who far and away I would cross treacherous waters just to get a glimpse of in a film. Mr A has done his fair share of monkey shine I know, but I feel he does so with such a charm and ease that it’s as if he himself knows it will lead him to derision. I particularly look out for any films in which he has a cameo as those are the ones in which he seems to have the most fun. And I’d certainly let him rummage in the back of my Volkswagen…if he ever asked!