As some of you may or may not know, I’m an actor, well, an aspiring actor. I’ve always watched film performances in a very odd way, trying to pick up on specific characteristics that make the character what it is.
So, I thought I’d make a list of a couple of performances that have made me want to become actor and those performances I’ve taken inspiration from in some of my own work. Here they are:
Christoph Waltz – Inglorious Basterds
Waltz’s terrifying portrayal of SS Colonel Hans Landa is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. He has the rare ability of making the audience feel tense by just changing his facial expression. Waltz, who was practically unknown outside of Austria until the film’s release, redefined the modern villain and showed that quiet and friendly could be just as scary as evil and shouty.
Leonardo DiCaprio – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
I went into the film knowing full well who DiCaprio was and what he’d done in the past, and for me to forget who the actor was by the end of the film is some achievement. DiCaprio plays a mentally handicapped young man without ever overdoing, he completely transforms into the role and, in my opinion, it’s the best performance he’s given. His little mannerism and characteristics never slip and he never once breaks character. To win an Oscar nomination when you’re 18 is amazing, but to give a performance of this calibre when you’re 18 is outstanding. It really shows that whatever age you are, you can still steal the show.
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
A performance so good, Christopher Nolan let him direct the handheld footage alone in character. Ledger is everything you want from a villain, he’s creepy, scary, violent and insane. But this isn’t your typical villain as you get the impression that Ledger’s Joker isn’t sure of what he’d doing either and is genuinely not right in the head. He plays the character with a controlled psychotic feel that is so intense, you instantly feel threatened by his sheer presence.
Will Ferrell – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
We all know that Will Ferrell is a funny man, but this is definetly one of his most accomplished performances. As Ron Burgundy, he is selfish, ignorant and sly, and we love him for it. Only Ferrell could’ve played a character so repulsive yet make him so sympathetic, something I think makes the film work as well as it does. He never drops the Burgundy character, often, riffing/improvising in the character are the funniest bits of the movie. It’s a great comic performance by a guy who clearly understands his character and makes it work so well.
Joe Gilgun – This is England
I could’ve picked almost every performance in This Is England for this list, but Gilgun’s is one that stands out for me. He is definetly a supporting character in the film (but a lead in the series), but his performance is so natural it almost looks like he’s making up half his lines. Gilgun is excellent at sensing an atmosphere and doing what he can to stick to that specific tone, and showcases that excellently here. He’s one of the most natural actors in British cinema/tv at the moment and he well deserves his place on this list.
Paddy Considine – Dead Man’s Shoes
Shane Meadows is excellent for getting brilliant performances from his actors, none for so than Considine. He his frightening as hell in this awesome psychological thriller, his constant blunt look and jerky movements portray a man on edge and leaves the audience anticipating when he’s going to flip. Considine’s performance of a mentally unstable ex-military man is brilliant because it doesn’t try to copy anyone else, it’s an haunting performance for a haunting character.
Jean Claude Van Damme – JCVD
Never has an actor surprised me as much as Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD. In this French indie flick, Van Damme plays himself in the middle of hostage hold up ina bank. It’s hard to believe the emotion that Vam Damme conveys throughout films, successfully showing the audience that he can be more than just a hard man. With the highlight being a brutally honest 8 minute monologue, Van Damme proves to everyone that he can act, and really, really well.
What are the film performances that have stood out for you? Which one did you enjoy?
– Iwan D