Actors With Great Range

Here's the place to talk about DVDs (or VHS) films and movies you have seen on television and recommend or don't recommend. Discuss actors and scores, too.

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Barry
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Actors With Great Range

Post by Barry » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:04 pm

I watched Sexy Beast for the first time in a number of years last night. Just as I was the first time I saw it, I was completely blown away by Ben Kingsley and couldn't help but think of the huge difference in his roles as Gandhi and the gangster in Sexy Beast. It's hard to believe it's the same person. Or for that matter, that it was the same person who was in Schindler's List. He has got to be one of the most terrifyingly mean real-life (as opposed to something from a fantasy or sci-fi type of film) characters in the history of film.

Any other actors/actresses that people would like to put in the category of having great range?
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

jbuck919
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Re: Actors With Great Range

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:47 pm

It's easier to cite actresses of both the classic and modern screen (Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep) than actors. The actors that film critics routinely cite as having had the greatest accomplishment (De Niro, Nicholson) seem to have played characters all of whom bear a family resemblance to one another. An exception would be Laurence Olivier, who would probably have attributed it to the difference between classical and method acting.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Barry
Posts: 10228
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Re: Actors With Great Range

Post by Barry » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:37 pm

jbuck919 wrote:It's easier to cite actresses of both the classic and modern screen (Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep) than actors. The actors that film critics routinely cite as having had the greatest accomplishment (De Niro, Nicholson) seem to have played characters all of whom bear a family resemblance to one another. An exception would be Laurence Olivier, who would probably have attributed it to the difference between classical and method acting.
From that De Niro, Nicholson generation, Dustin Hoffman may be a better fit for the type of range I'm talking about.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

John F
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Location: New York, NY

Re: Actors With Great Range

Post by John F » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:25 am

If you're talking about movie actors, their range is partly due to the efforts of cameramen and film editors. Since I don't watch many movies any longer, my nominees would be based on such stage performances as I've seen.

Meryl Streep recently returned to theatre as the diva Arkadina in Chekhov's "Seagull" and as a feisty Mother Courage, confirming her reputation as a versatile film actor.

A personal favorite is Maggie Smith, a brilliant comedienne who has also given strong performances as Desdemona (opposite Olivier's Othello, early in her career) and in Albee's "Three Tall Women."

Ian McKellen has excelled mainly in such serious roles as Richard III, Coriolanus, and King Lear, but I saw him as a hilarious Captain Hook in "Peter Pan," and wish I could have caught him as Estragon in an all-star "Waiting for Godot" that toured the UK, Australia, and South Africa last season. Maybe it will be coming here?

And speaking of Beckett, I hope to see Michael Gambon in "Krapp's Last Tape" in October, another departure from type for an actor on the heroic scale whom I've also seen as a resourceful Volpone and a really creepy Davies in Pinter's "The Caretaker."

I could go on, especially if dead actors are allowed - Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness were both chameleons in their very different ways. Peter Hall wrote this about Paul Scofield, possibly best known for his King Lear in Peter Brook's devastating film:
Peter Hall wrote:The door at the back of the set opened, and a small man entered. He was wearing a black suit, steel-rimmed glasses, and holding a suitcase. For a moment we wondered who this stranger was and why he was wandering onto our stage. Then we realized that it was Paul, transformed. His tall body had shrunk; he had become insignificant. The new character now possessed him entirely.
Seems to me that the mark of a really good actor is this ability to convince in a wide range of roles. This may not shine out in the movies, where casting is often to type and the huge budgets and long production periods are limiting factors too. But there are exceptions such as "Kind Hearts and Coronets," in which Alec Guinness played 8 contrasting roles of all ages and both sexes in the space of 106 minutes. And his range was even wider than that.
John Francis

John F
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Re: Actors With Great Range

Post by John F » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:48 pm

I've just been listening to a BBC Radio 4 program (via their web site) with a segment about Sean Connery, who's 80 today. He was once asked how he got away with portraying an American gangster, a Russian submarine commander, etc. etc., all with the same Scottish accent. His reply: "If I didn't talk like this, I wouldn't know who the hell I was." He doesn't disappear into his roles, or want to. Which seems to tie into the topic here, by contradiction.

(Also, relevant to CMG, is a segment on Osmo Vanska. The name of the program is "Front Row," and the link is http://beta.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b ... _on_stage/
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Actors With Great Range

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:26 am

John F wrote:I've just been listening to a BBC Radio 4 program (via their web site) with a segment about Sean Connery, who's 80 today. He was once asked how he got away with portraying an American gangster, a Russian submarine commander, etc. etc., all with the same Scottish accent. His reply: "If I didn't talk like this, I wouldn't know who the hell I was." He doesn't disappear into his roles, or want to. Which seems to tie into the topic here, by contradiction.

(Also, relevant to CMG, is a segment on Osmo Vanska. The name of the program is "Front Row," and the link is http://beta.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b ... _on_stage/
I think that Connery is saved by the fact that his accent is perceived (I assume by more than just me) as idiosyncratic, whether that is fair or not. Many of us know someone who more or less made up his own accent, perhaps by accident and perhaps as an affectation, making them equally realistic (or unrealistic) as belonging in any context. If Connery's were one of the varieties of stereotypical Scottish accents, or a regional accent of any other kind, he could not get away with it so easily.

Unfortunately, Robert Redford (n Out of Africa) and Gregory Peck (as a Scotsman in Keys of the Kingdom and as a Brit in Guns of Navarone) didn't have any such excuse.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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