Wednesday, June 16, 2004

CHARACTER

Tonight I was supposed to have an improv class focusing on developing characters. The class was cancelled, I assume because of low interest.

Instead of becoming despondent and suffering through improv class withdrawal, I've decided on something a little more interactive and exploratory.

If I were ever to seriously pursue acting, I would probably do well to pursue the life of a character actor. These are the people you see in movies over and over again, but never as the lead--they generally "don't look like movie stars," and they give such natural, nuanced performances that sometimes you don't even notice they're there. But they are. They play doctors, and best friends, and geeks, and army personnel. They don't get the magazine covers, or the product endorsements, but they are actors through and through.

Who's your favorite character actor, and why?

I offer several of my favorites for your consideration:

William H. Macy (he is good in every film)

Philip Seymour Hoffmann (often creepy, but often heartbreaking)

Kevin Pollak (hilarious, sarcastic, Jewish, love him!)

J.T. Walsh (deceased, I believe, but again, good in every film)

Judy Greer (she's played the best friend a jillion times opposite everyone from Jennifer Garner to Jennifer Lopez and even for other people who aren't named Jennifer, but is consistently good; her most heartbreaking role was in What Women Want, and look for her in M. Night Shyamalan's latest this summer...)

Stanley Tucci (the UWS neighborhood dad who manages sexy and smart simultaneously--from assassin to airport manager and everywhere in between)

Adam Goldberg (if you only know him as Chandler's crazy roommate Eddie, you're missing something)

Liev Schreiber (Liev has heard me sing at karaoke, I saw him walking in front of Essentials, and he's a good actor)

Joan Allen (most wouldn't consider Joan a character actress, but I think she has remarkable power as an actor that's not given its due...)

And of course, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and the cast of regulars employed by Christopher Guest in his movies.

Not a complete list, of course. Any additional thoughts?

12 Comments:

At 1:51 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonnie Hunt.

 
At 8:55 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Caryn said...

Jennifer Coolidge

 
At 9:18 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Michael said...

Gene Hackman, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Kevin Spacey, Steve Buscemi, Helen Hunt, Danny DeVito.

To avoid are any movies with Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, the Olsen twins, or any woman who has been surgically assisted in her career.

 
At 10:40 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the list you included, I'd have to say Kevin Pollak (he was brilliant in Grand Canyon although his turn in Usual Suspects might put him out of reach of being a character actor) is the prototypical character actor.

Adam Goldberg is great but he did star in The Hebrew Hammer ... and that's the greatest Jewxplotation film ever created.

Stanley Tucci's good but he's one of the leads in the new film The Terminal with Tom Hanks and Mrs. Michael Douglas.

Eugene Levy's attracted his own cult following.

Do you think Steve Buscemi still fits as a character actor? I'd put him at the top of the list if we can still classify him as such.

Enjoy your blog.

-Danny (http://thatpr0nguy.livejournal.com)

 
At 11:43 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Can't believe I omitted Steve Buscemi.

And I hate Helen Hunt. But most of these other names, absolutely!

 
At 11:44 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Paxson, just kidding.

 
At 11:52 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Michael said...

Hate Helen Hunt? Whaddaya..a weirdo? ;>)

 
At 11:59 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

I think Helen Hunt's way overrated as an actor, and she looks like a man. That said, I saw her like fifteen years ago on Broadway with Eric Stoltz (Our Town) as part of a high school trip, and she seemed okay then...

 
At 9:35 PM, June 16, 2004, Blogger PepGiraffe said...

Getting plastic surgery does not make someone a worse actor.

Steve Buscemi is definately one of the great character actors. So is Art Carney.

It is possible to have a lead in a movie and still be a character actor.


Tony Shaloub.

 
At 2:27 AM, June 17, 2004, Blogger Marc G. said...

Hi, Esther. A noninclusive list of some favorite character actors off the top of my head at 2:15 am. Marc


Joe Pesci
Burt Young
John Turturro
Eli Wallach
Patricia Clarkson
Walter Brennan
Tom Sizemore
Robert Duvall
Scatman Crothers
Peter Lorre
William Hickey
John Cazale (!)
Bruno Kirby
Sidney Pollack
Charles Dutton
Ned Beatty
Philip Bosco
Richard Benjamin
Ruth Gordon
Robert Morley
Ossie Davis
Cloris Leachman
Edward Herrman
Madeline Kahn
Danny Aiello
Luis Guzman
Louis Gossett Jr.
Robert Loggia
David Paymer
Dan Hedaya

 
At 11:16 AM, June 17, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

These are all great. Good job, my readers! I'm very proud of you all.

 
At 4:25 PM, June 18, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Elias Koteas, another one of my favorites. Scary, funny, handsome--he does it all.

 

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My Urban Kvetch: CHARACTER

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

CHARACTER

Tonight I was supposed to have an improv class focusing on developing characters. The class was cancelled, I assume because of low interest.

Instead of becoming despondent and suffering through improv class withdrawal, I've decided on something a little more interactive and exploratory.

If I were ever to seriously pursue acting, I would probably do well to pursue the life of a character actor. These are the people you see in movies over and over again, but never as the lead--they generally "don't look like movie stars," and they give such natural, nuanced performances that sometimes you don't even notice they're there. But they are. They play doctors, and best friends, and geeks, and army personnel. They don't get the magazine covers, or the product endorsements, but they are actors through and through.

Who's your favorite character actor, and why?

I offer several of my favorites for your consideration:

William H. Macy (he is good in every film)

Philip Seymour Hoffmann (often creepy, but often heartbreaking)

Kevin Pollak (hilarious, sarcastic, Jewish, love him!)

J.T. Walsh (deceased, I believe, but again, good in every film)

Judy Greer (she's played the best friend a jillion times opposite everyone from Jennifer Garner to Jennifer Lopez and even for other people who aren't named Jennifer, but is consistently good; her most heartbreaking role was in What Women Want, and look for her in M. Night Shyamalan's latest this summer...)

Stanley Tucci (the UWS neighborhood dad who manages sexy and smart simultaneously--from assassin to airport manager and everywhere in between)

Adam Goldberg (if you only know him as Chandler's crazy roommate Eddie, you're missing something)

Liev Schreiber (Liev has heard me sing at karaoke, I saw him walking in front of Essentials, and he's a good actor)

Joan Allen (most wouldn't consider Joan a character actress, but I think she has remarkable power as an actor that's not given its due...)

And of course, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and the cast of regulars employed by Christopher Guest in his movies.

Not a complete list, of course. Any additional thoughts?

12 Comments:

At 1:51 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonnie Hunt.

 
At 8:55 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Caryn said...

Jennifer Coolidge

 
At 9:18 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Michael said...

Gene Hackman, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Kevin Spacey, Steve Buscemi, Helen Hunt, Danny DeVito.

To avoid are any movies with Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, the Olsen twins, or any woman who has been surgically assisted in her career.

 
At 10:40 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the list you included, I'd have to say Kevin Pollak (he was brilliant in Grand Canyon although his turn in Usual Suspects might put him out of reach of being a character actor) is the prototypical character actor.

Adam Goldberg is great but he did star in The Hebrew Hammer ... and that's the greatest Jewxplotation film ever created.

Stanley Tucci's good but he's one of the leads in the new film The Terminal with Tom Hanks and Mrs. Michael Douglas.

Eugene Levy's attracted his own cult following.

Do you think Steve Buscemi still fits as a character actor? I'd put him at the top of the list if we can still classify him as such.

Enjoy your blog.

-Danny (http://thatpr0nguy.livejournal.com)

 
At 11:43 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Can't believe I omitted Steve Buscemi.

And I hate Helen Hunt. But most of these other names, absolutely!

 
At 11:44 AM, June 16, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Paxson, just kidding.

 
At 11:52 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Michael said...

Hate Helen Hunt? Whaddaya..a weirdo? ;>)

 
At 11:59 AM, June 16, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

I think Helen Hunt's way overrated as an actor, and she looks like a man. That said, I saw her like fifteen years ago on Broadway with Eric Stoltz (Our Town) as part of a high school trip, and she seemed okay then...

 
At 9:35 PM, June 16, 2004, Blogger PepGiraffe said...

Getting plastic surgery does not make someone a worse actor.

Steve Buscemi is definately one of the great character actors. So is Art Carney.

It is possible to have a lead in a movie and still be a character actor.


Tony Shaloub.

 
At 2:27 AM, June 17, 2004, Blogger Marc G. said...

Hi, Esther. A noninclusive list of some favorite character actors off the top of my head at 2:15 am. Marc


Joe Pesci
Burt Young
John Turturro
Eli Wallach
Patricia Clarkson
Walter Brennan
Tom Sizemore
Robert Duvall
Scatman Crothers
Peter Lorre
William Hickey
John Cazale (!)
Bruno Kirby
Sidney Pollack
Charles Dutton
Ned Beatty
Philip Bosco
Richard Benjamin
Ruth Gordon
Robert Morley
Ossie Davis
Cloris Leachman
Edward Herrman
Madeline Kahn
Danny Aiello
Luis Guzman
Louis Gossett Jr.
Robert Loggia
David Paymer
Dan Hedaya

 
At 11:16 AM, June 17, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

These are all great. Good job, my readers! I'm very proud of you all.

 
At 4:25 PM, June 18, 2004, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Elias Koteas, another one of my favorites. Scary, funny, handsome--he does it all.

 

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