Slowly Turning Into You

It’s been a while since I’ve made a good, proper list and you know how I love to make lists.  Today’s topic: chameleonic actors.  Not just talented, not your favorite, not necessarily today’s best actors, but the most transformative actors currently in the biz.  Here’s a list of the first 7 that came to mind:

Bale -The FighterChristian Bale – I hear he’s a real tool to work with and his acceptance speech for the Oscar for his role in The Fighter certainly does suggest so but whether or not he’s a great guy has no relevance in this list.  The man can alter his physical appearance, stance, mannerisms, dialect and accent so much, you hardly recognize him but more importantly, once he commits to the role, you forget he’s Christian Bale.  The Fighter is a fine example as is American Psycho or The Machinist.

Tom Hardy – Even now, it’s difficult for me to believe that the Hardy I watched in Warrior is the same guy who played Eames in Inception.  Throw in his performances in The Dark Knight Rises and Lawless and there’s no question in his ability to transform for a role.  I happened to catch a scene of his small part in Band Of Brothers recently and I had to look him up online to confirm that it really was him.  I’m not sure how he does it, but Hardy somehow manages to look like an entirely different person for nearly every role.

Javier Bardem – I need only two titles to illustrate my point: No Country For Old Men and Vicky Christina Barcelona.  ‘Nuff said.

Cate Blanchett – I first noticed her uncanny ability between 2001’s Bandits and LotR: The Fellowship of The Ring.  Then she played a small but I'm Not Theredistinct role in The Shipping News, became briefly occupied by Katherine Hepburn’s ghost for The Aviator and somehow turned into a young Bob Dylan in I’m Not There.  Yes, you read that right: the same woman successfully played both Katherine Hepburn and Bob Dylan.

Daniel Day Lewis – DDL’s knack for becoming the character he’s playing is something of a legend in show business.  Start at Last Of The Mohicans and work your way through Gangs Of New York and There Will Be Blood all the way to Lincoln and you won’t wonder why.

John Lithgow – He might not be Hollywood’s biggest name right now but his range is astounding.  His earlier work like The Twilight Zone and Terms Of Endearment certainly prove my point but if you dare doubt me, think about this: that goofy, arrogant, outrageously funny alien in 3rd Rock From The Sun was played by the very same man who gave us the cold, calculating Trinity Killer in Dexter.  I hate to say I told you so, but… yeah, I did.

Natalie Portman – I struggled a bit with including Portman on this list but her performances in Garden State and Closer won me over.  She may not always bring the same level of commitment to every role, but these two at least prove that she can.

Tell me: who did I forget?



5 thoughts on “Slowly Turning Into You

  1. OH, and I think I understand your struggle with Portman–she IS great, no denying–but she’s so GOD DAMNED STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL ALL OF THE TIME, that it belies her transformation into another person.

  2. Ah, my favorite phenomena. It’s like that list of people that you forget don’t actually have American accents. Except instead of their speech it’s their WHOLE PERSON. Fun fact: Daniel Day Lewis actually scares me quite a lot, and I realized it’s because I have no idea what or who he is. Is he even a person? I don’t know!
    Gosh, who else could go on this list…Michael Sheen? Sam Rockwell???

    • Sam Rockwell was actually on the first draft of this list… hard to say exactly why I took him off. I think for me, personally, I’ve come to love him so much that I always see HIM, regardless of how deeply he gets into a role. He is phenomenal and can act with the best of them, no doubt. I’m currently in the midst of a “Seven Psychopaths” review and it’s little more than a love letter to him for his mad skills and perfect timing.

      By the way, I saw Daniel Day Lewis in a very rare interview last year and he seemed rather pretentious. I don’t doubt that he’s brilliant and everyone who’s watched even one of his movies knows he’s beyond talented but I think he takes himself and his career quite seriously.
      🙂 Nikki

  3. Bryan Cranston. Nutty dad in Malcolm in the Middle, shaved head psycho in Breaking Bad. I know, I know, it’s TV, but still …

    • No, I completely agree! I didn’t watch Malcolm In The Middle but I do watch Breaking Bad and I’ve seen Cranston in enough other things to know that he belongs on this list. I don’t know how I forgot him!

      Thanks. 🙂

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