Monday, December 02, 2013

Great Britain's Greatest Actors ... Not Who You Might Think ...

Okay, this is a personal opinion. I watch a wide range of TV shows and movies, a very eclectic mix.

Our favourite actors might just happen to be the ones we've seen in our particular preferred type of show or film (in which case, Laurence Olivier himself could be still alive and appearing in Coronation Street or EastEnders and I'd never know.)

De Niro
Recently a friend was talking about Robert De Niro as the greatest living actor. Hmm, hard to argue with that.

But I'll give it a go.

The problem with De Niro is simply type-casting. It's a damn shame that Hollywood is so short-sighted in that it seems to restrict roles for Italian-Americans to 'gangster' or 'tough-inner-city-cop'. De Niro has suffered from this and had to escape to comedies where he still plays the same roles, but for laughs. He's had many other 'non-cop, non-CIA, non-violent' roles in a few films, but how many people can reel off more than a couple of them?

Sadly the same goes for Al Pacino, the other name that crops up when talking about great actors. Apart from a handful of films, he covers the same ground as De Niro. The one exception for me is his Shylock in the 2004 Merchant Of Venice, the highlight of a wonderful film.

So what makes a great actor? I think the factors that count are flexibility and diversification. Play twenty totally different characters and you're on the way to being considered very good indeed. The other criteria is peer plaudits - find the actor / actress who those in the business respect and add that person the a top ten list.

Personally, I think that Kevin Spacey is better and more versatile than either of the two above. Even Denzel Washington.

And then there's the enigma that is Daniel Day-Lewis. Very selective over his choice of films, but when he signs on the line, he lives the role for the whole production.

So we got talking about specifically actors from Great Britain, and I came up with for me, the top three names that would guarantee me watching a TV series or film. And they might surprise you.

I'm not going provide you with a full biography, or list all the varied roles they've played and all the characters they've inhabited. I'm just going to put these three names down. You know them.

Mathew MacFadyen Ciaran Hinds Phil Davies