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:
Christian 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 distinct 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?