Categorizing The Actors

My brain is really weird, or so my wife has convinced me. I have a real obsessive compulsive fanboy/geekdom to me about strange things – like, say, Actors. I’m constantly evaluating them, categorizing them, thinking about the marketing aspects of them, how they play to audiences and why, etc. (I told you my brain is weird.) Well, here is the proof you seek.

It sounds easy – but its not. You’re kind of born with “it” – the ability to portray the average man in such a way that the entire audience can put themselves in your shoes. Everymen aren’t big and muscular. They aren’t geniuses. They don’t tend to have superpowers. They don’t see themselves as heroes. They have self-doubt. They wrestle with moral choices. In short, they are completely human. But you trust them. You root for them. You see yourself in them. And Tom Hanks may just be the best everyman ever.
Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Tobey Maguire, Jimmy Stewart, Matt Damon, Owen Wilson, Viggo Mortensen, Jim Caviezel, Bill Pullman, Matthew Broderick, Michael J. Fox

These guys specialize in wide range…they can play the villain, the creep, the underdog, the authority figure, the weird neighbor, the colorful family member, the flamboyant friend…you get the picture. These guys can really act. All hail Steve Buscemi – King of the character actors.
Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Johnny Depp, Hugo Weaving, Alan Rickman, Joe Pesci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, Randy Quaid, Christopher Lloyd, Geoffrey Rush, Don Cheadle, Paul Giamatti, Edward Norton, William H. Macy, John Rhys-Davies, Jeffrey Jones, Donald Sutherland, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lee, J.T. Walsh, John Heard, James Cromwell

Some of America’s most popular actors are on this list. We love them. It’s just that…they always seem to be playing different variations of the same character…like they’re really just playing bigger-than-life versions of themselves. It leads you to say things like, “it’s Tom Cruise as a sports agent. It’s Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot. It’s Tom Cruise as a race car driver.” In the end…it’s still Tom Cruise. These actors sell us their own hyped personality again and again and again…(and amazingly we keep buying it). Mainstream comedic actors tend to fall here, too, as they all tend to have a “schtick” that carries over from movie to movie.
Tom Cruise, John Wayne, Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Tim Allen, John Travolta, Jack Black, Samuel L. Jackson (but agreed he’s the best on-screen cusser ever!), Tommy Lee Jones, Dustin Hoffman (hailed as a big ‘character actor’ when The Graduate came out – but looking back on his long career – ehh, they’re pretty much all the same soft-spoken, smallish jewish guy who sometimes reaches his boiling point – am I right?), Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum, Alec Bladwin, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood, Russell Crowe, Val Kilmer, Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins

Actors who may actually have some skills, but whose looks always seem to take priority over the quality of their material. Rarely do you see emotional depth or range from this type…it seems to be all about the hair (or the pecks, or the abs, or the whatever…)
Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Hugh Grant, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, Matthew McConaughey, Warren Beatty, Jude Law, Ryan Phillipe, Orlando Bloom

The ones who appear to be giving a master’s class in acting every time they’re on screen – they dominate the scenes they’re in – you can’t take your eye off them – they turn even mediocre scripts into Hollywood Magic…
Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Ian McKellen, Ralph Fiennes, Ed Harris, Patrick Stewart, John Malkovich, Robert Duvall, Kenneth Branagh

Actors who somehow manage to get themselves cast repeatedly in big budget Hollywood films, yet you wonder if they realize they look like wooden cutouts on screen…
Kevin Costner, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, David Duchovny, Ben Affleck, Hayden Christensen, Freddie Prinze Jr., Chris O’Donnell

Alright, readers out there. Who did I tick off? Who’s on the wrong list? Who did I forget? (Yes the list is inherently sexist…I’ll get around to the females someday…)

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