Monday, April 19, 2010

Question: Favorite Character Actor

Some people are characters. Other are actors. Still others are character actors. You know these people. They toil away in movies making the whole thing work, and yet, you never bother to learn their names. Sad really. Who are your favorite character actors?


Anonymous said...

From the Golden Age:
-Claude Rains, hands down... I've only seen him in a few movies but he's always excellent ("I'm shocked...!")

From today:
-Stephen Tobolowski - I recommend a documentary titled Stephen Tobolowski's Birthday Party... it's just him telling life/work stories as he prepares dinner for some guests... he's also a good example of a successful actor who's still down to Earth

-Stephen Root - TV will never have another character like Mr. Jimmy James from Newsradio - "I have so many lawyers lined up to see me, you'd think I have tobacco leaking out of my breast impants."... Mr. Root also played Milton in Office Space

-Jeffrey Combs - star of the Re-Animator films and part of the Star Trek stock company, having played seven roles across three Trek series, most notably Weyoun and Brunt on DS9 and Shran on Enterprise

-Christian Clemenson - played Jerry "Hands" Espenson on Boston Legal and Socrates Poole on Brisco County Jr., a lovable nerdy type... he also appeared in United 93 as one of the passengers, perhaps the only remotely recognizable face in the film

-the late great J.T. Walsh, usually played a bad guy and was so good at it... among many other things, he played an opportunistic senator in Executive Decision (guilty pleasure), the bad guy in Breakdown, and the judge in Pleasantville

-Philip Baker Hall - Lt. Bookman, the library cop from Seinfeld... and tons of other stuff

-Richard Jenkins, from Six Feet Under and a million other things... he played an exasperated FBI guy in Trapped in Paradise (another guilty pleasure)

There's more but I'll give other folks a chance. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

My personal favorite is Murray Hamilton -- "the mayor of shark city" in Jaws. He was also in Anatomy of a Murder and The Hustler.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Root is surprisingly versitile. I saw him in something serious the other day and he did an excellent job (though I can't remember what it was).

J.T. Walsh was excellent too. I liked him a lot in Needful Things. He was really good in The Negotiator as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm only familiar with Hamilton's work on Jaws, Jaws 2, and 1941 (sitting atop the Ferris wheel with Eddie Deezen and the dummy).

The Negotiator is one of those films that came and went. It's not very memorable (to me), despite the great cast. But another great character actor is in it: David Morse, who played Jodie Foster's dad in Contact and has shown up in a ton of stuff, including The Hurt Locker.

I also like:
-James Rebhorn... from The Game, Independence Day, and a billion other things
-Leland Orser... who's usually screaming, "What's inside me!" or "Get this off me!"... he's in Se7en as the guy with the, uh, thing strapped to him... and he also played one of Liam Neeson's buddies in Taken
-Harris Yulin... I'll always remember him as the judge from Ghostbusters II, he was also excellent as a Cardassian agent in an early DS9 episode titled "Duet"
-Danny Trejo... just because he's awesome :-)

Unknown said...

Sebastian Cabot for playing the "gentleman's gentleman" who always seemed to be a little smarter than the gentlemen for whom he was the valet or butler.

Claude Rains was definitely the best-known, and deservedly so.

Michael Ironside, for his tough guy roles, usually as the villain.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I see that you've never though about this issue! LOL!

I like David Morse a lot and I always thought he deserved a bigger career.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Michael Ironside has been in so many of my favorite movies that he has become the quintessential bad guy.

Anonymous said...

Andrew - What gave you that impression? :-) Morse is one of many actors who should be bigger. I also include Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Mark Valley (from Boston Legal and Human Target) in that category.

When folks complain about the lack of leading men, I tell them, "They're either: a.) character actors, or b.) on television!"

LawHawk - good call on Ironside. Robocop is one of my favorite films (Intrada just released the complete music score which arrived today) and he utters the immortal line in Starship Troopers: "They sucked his brains out!"

patti said...

kevin bacon = most underrated actor today.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - Didn't Murray Hamilton play Mr. Robinson in "The Graduate?"

A couple of names pop up for me. Jack Elam was great in a whole bunch of westerns, usually as a villain. I also like Donald Pleasance for all those vaguely European villains (Ernst Stavro Blofeld comes to mind.)

Many Commentarians may be too young to really remember these two guys.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Yep, he was Mr. Robinson.

I'm a huge fan of Donald Pleasance -- from The Great Escape to all those John Carpenter movies.

I only know Jack Elam from Cannonball Run and Support Your Local Sheriff.

Anonymous said...

Lawhawk and Co. -

I made a mistake above. Michael Ironside was in Total Recall, not Robocop. For some reason, my wires crossed and I was thinking of another great character actor: Kurtwood "Bitches leave" Smith. He's excellent.

And while I haven't seen many of his films, I am familiar with Donald Pleasance from The Great Escape and You Only Live Twice.

BevfromNYC said...

Jack Elam!! Loved him.
Strother Martin
Walter Brennan
Jack Palance
Steve Buscemi

Writer X said...

Stephen Root also played a great bit role on SEINFELD as a bank president. He was a riot. I loved him in Office Space.

Anonymous said...

Writer X -

It's been a while but I think that particular Seinfeld episode was the one where Susan dies, but I'm not sure. :-)

Root also showed up in a two-part episode of Star Trek: TNG as a Klingon officer ("Unification Parts 1 and 2") and a few episodes of HBO's True Blood (very weird stuff) and, like me, is a native Floridian. Score one for us (for once)!

He and another character actor from Office Space (Richard Riehle who played the "Jump to Conclusions" guy) both show up in Black Rain as internal affairs guys. When I saw the movie for the first time a few years ago, I was like, "Hey, it's those two guys!"

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Jack Palance -- I like him a lot too! And Buscemi is very good as well.

Writer X, Office Space was hilarious. I think I've met all those people.

Ponderosa said...

Robert Shaw - Quint in Jaws, Battle of the Bulge, Force 10 from Navarone, a Bond movie.

But I loved him best as Doyle Lonnegan in the Sting.

Patrick Warburton as Puddy gets an honorable mention.

StanH said...

Ernest Borgnine
George Kennedy
Bruce Dern
Dennis Hopper (early days)

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