Particular people are capable of filling those particular shoes even if they don’t do it often. A Character Role is an expectation extended to specific talents or specialists with specific skills and back in the day it was what people did if they could manage it and that’s all they did. After Brando, big names were allowed to play weirdos or oddballs and in today’s cinema character acting is no longer a caste or a specialized vocation like in the studio system but a rite of passage or another break at acting for those of a certain age and capacity. Character Acting is a distinct genre of performance and one that transcends beyond past understandings of it in the Golden Years of Hollywood.
Brian Doyle-Murray? Oh absolutely. Caddyshack (1980), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984), Scrooged (1988), Ghostbusters II (1989), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), JFK (1991), Wayne’s World (1992), Groundhog Day (1993), As Good As It Gets (1997). A phenomenal presence in the films he was in.
Clancy says that this debate is “a lotta sheep dip.”
Sheep dip, you sure? Is that like salsa, or something you step in? Euphemism? For what though? I stopped listening, you tell me.
I’ve gotta give props to everyone’s favorite sassy grandma, Ellen Albertini Dow.
Clancy Brown is a fine choice. His quiet reflective range edges from decency to disquiet minus any lack of conviction. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), The Hurricane (1999), The Guardian (2006). He skates between monster and saint with ease and his is a face I always welcome.
I know he’s been in a million things, but the one I always remember is the Brady Bunch. It’s the one where Bobby is obsessed with Jesse James, Burt played a man whose father was killed by Jesse.
Don’t forget he’s also Mr. Krabs.
I loved seeing him pop up from time to time on The Andy Griffith Show.
AND he was in my favorite Twilight Zone episode (and boy howdy, was THAT such a haven for character actors), “Night of the Meek.”
Bob Gunton. A volcanic operator. Heated and refined. Sophisticated and direct. Glory (1989), JFK (1941), Patriot Games (1992), Demoliton Man (1993), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1996), Broken Arrow (1995), The Glimmer Man (1996), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Patch Adams (1998), The Perfect Storm (2000), The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), Argo (2012). His warden in Shawshank is one for the ages.
And Lex Luthor in Lego DC Super-Villains.
Arkin? There are gray areas and Alan was always rather quirky to me, even when playing a bad guy (Wait Until Dark) so he had something of the character actor in him. I’m okay with someone throwing his name in there, if only to widen the discussion.
The late, great Phillip Baker Hall is one of my favorites, who on occasion would be given a lead role. He was fantastic however you define him or how much screentime he had. But I always thought of him as a character actor. Agree? Disagree?
Right with you on this one. Bruce McGill. A free spirit possessing whatever prick, nice guy, or professional with poise and precision. The Last Boy Scout (1991), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Cliffhanger (1993), A Perfect World (1993), Timecop (1994), Black Sheep (1996), Courage Under Fire (1996), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Exit Wounds (2001), Shallow Hal (2001), Ali (2001), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Matchstick Men (2003), Runaway Jury (2003), Collateral (2004), Cinderella Man (2005), Elizabethtown (2005), The Lookout (2007), Lincoln (2012). His smile is like a grenade and his frown an invitation. His boxing manager in Cinderella is one of my favorites.
Seconded. Arkin was always unconventional and bit off in manner and presentation. His acting in Wait Until Dark (1968) flirts with character acting. In it, he provides color and relief almost above his practical function in the film. His weirdness almost gets in the way. In my opinion. That speaks character acting to me.
I can’t argue. His chiseled features and guttural voice projects character actor BIG TIME. Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), The Truman Show (1998), Rush Hour (1998), Enemy of the State (1998), Psycho (1998), The Insider (1999), Magnolia (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Contender (2000), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003). He ruled in Secret Honor (1984) though his altogether mark is that of character man.