Underrated Actors

Underrated Actors Part 3: Brad Pitt

Posted on June 13, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings, Underrated Actors | Tags: , , , , |

Brad Pitt is one of the most famous people on the planet. But when you think of him what comes to mind first? Is it “great actor” or is it “pretty guy who married Lara Croft and now collects children and bad facial hair?”

That’s the problem with being one of the most famous people on the planet. People get too involved in what Heat magazine says about your choice of flip-flops and forget why you became famous in the first place.

In the last week I have accidentally ended up watching two very different Pitt films; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Snatch.  At risk of recrimination, I have to admit I didn’t really care for Benjamin. I admired the idea and the work that went into it, but couldn’t help thinking it dragged at times.  Having said that, Pitt does some great work, capturing the quirks of each age and somehow balancing a feeling of both naivety and wisdom.

Snatch on the other hand is all about that accent. Where did that even come from? Like Benjamin, Pitt can’t rely on his looks for this film, as they’ve done their best to make him look as greasy as possible, and he manages to add some depth to what could be a very two-dimensional character with a silly voice.

The film that really made me release that Brad is more than just a pretty face though was Twelve Monkeys. The twitchy energy he has  is similar to what’s going on with Mickey, but on a much higher level. It’s an incredibly unhinged performance, which steals the show right out from under Bruce Willis and somehow gets you to sympathise with, and  at times even feel sorry for, a maniacal lunatic bent on ending the world.  The role was rightly nominated for an Oscar but was unfortunately up against Kevin Spacey’s Keyser Soze, and another loss to Sean Penn in ’09 means there’s still no little gold man to add to the Jolie-Pitt’s growing  collection of miniatures.

Ocean’s 11 showed us that Pitt has great comic timing, while Fight Club….well Fight Club is just awesome all round.  Even movie-with-the-worst-ending-ever-on-screen Meet Joe Black has some fine work in, before it gets ridiculous.

There’s a lot of Brad Pitt films I haven’t seen (I’m waiting for someone to tell me I missed out Se7en) because I’m not one of those people who will go and see a film just because he’s in it.  When I do catch one of his movies though, I’m always surprised at how strong an actor he actually is.  Looking through his filmography on imdb, you can see he’s tried to avoid stereotypical “hero” roles (much like Johnny Depp) to avoid being typecast, suggesting brains behind the blonde.  Let’s hope he keeps picking good roles in future, and then maybe one day he will get the Oscar he should have won 15 years ago

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Underrated Actors Part 2: Colin Farrell

Posted on May 28, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings, Underrated Actors | Tags: , , |

I wrote a post about Jim Carrey being underrated a while back, but I’ve been waiting to write another one on the subject until I had  re-watched a particular movie. Did that last night so here it is.

Colin Farrell is an actor I’ve known since the BallyK days, yet he’s not often grouped together with collections of great actors,(those of you who included him in your St Paddy’s days posts excepted).  I think, like a lot of actors, he falls into the trap of being so well known as a person that people almost forget that he’s an actor too.  His wildboy persona seemed to overshadow his acting for a while back there, but now that he seems to have calmed down, we’re starting to see the talent first.

The movie that really made me sit up and take notice was Phone Booth.  It’s just an awesome movie which is so full of tension that it’s probably a good thing it only runs for 77mins.  It’s genius is in its simplicity: man answers phone, all hell breaks loose, but the entire film rests on one man and that man is Colin Farrell.

You barely notice while watching the film that it’s set entirely in that one little booth and the street around it.  The camera almost never cuts away from Farrell.  Even when he’s not part of the action the box-shot editing means he’s still on screen.  With a lesser actor that might get boring, but Farrell gives an unexpectedly powerful performance which is both sympathetic and flawed.  Difficult to pull off, especially when you have to do the whole thing in somebody else’s accent!

I’ve seen relatively few Farrell movies, and I know he’s been in some howlers, but I think Phone Booth alone proves that he is a very strong actor.  I think his inclusion in the stella Parnassus line up shows that the movie world is starting to come around to him as a great actor as well as a colourful character. I’m on the look out now for more of his films to see if he is really as good as I think he can be.  In Bruges is next on my hit list.

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Jim Carrey-underrated actor?

Posted on November 9, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings, Underrated Actors | Tags: , , , , |

I’ve been meaning to write a post along these lines for a while, and with A Christmas Carol making Jim Carey a hot topic at the moment I thought I’d finally get on with it.

Most of the world know Jim Carrey for his “rubber-faced” antics (I swear that term was invented to describe him)  and his over the top form of comedy which makes him a definite love-hate figure for a lot of people.  Whether or not his particular style of comedy appeals to you, (and I’m slightly ashamed to say it does to me) you have to admit, he’s good at what he does.  What interests me is that there tend to be moments in his films which belie a more serious talent behind all the funny voices and flailing limbs.  I’m wondering if I’m the only one who thinks that maybe, just maybe, Jim Carrey is actually a pretty good actor.

My main evidence for this is The Truman Show.  Carrey’s role is pretty serious throughout, with only a couple of his trademark gags.  The rest of the performance is a really sincere portrayal of a man discovering everything in his world is a fabrication.  I don’t want to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it (and I highly recommend you do) but the final scene in the boat is really well performed, and very held back for someone who is so renowned for being off the wall and out of control.  In the gag reel to Liar Liar he picks up on his tendency to over-act, but it seems to me that the Jim Carrey we know is just part of the character, and if he’d chosen a different path, we might just know him as another good actor.

In recent years, it does seem that Carrey is trying to be taken more seriously, with films like Eternal Sunshine, which again is a very straight role for someone like him.  He’s not always gone down well (The Number 23-oops) and he seems to be kind of stuck in this stereotype he’s created for himself.  Perhaps that’s why he’s taken on a lot of voice over work recently, with Horton Hears a Who and A Christmas Carol.

I’m not saying Jim Carrey is one of the best actors of his generation, but I do think that people tend to overlook him because they think of him as a clown rather than an actor.  I think films like Truman and Eternal Sunshine show that actually, he is a better actor than most give him credit for.

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