Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mark Strong: Ubiquitous Bad Guy

One of the things that I find interesting as a devout moviegoer is how one particular character actress or actor will begin popping up with great regularity in one type of role. Sometimes it lasts forever: Steven Tobolowsky has been playing that annoying neighbor/coworker/teacher for as long as I can remember. Sometimes they branch out: Brian Cox got unusually famous as a supporting player but he cycles through a few signatures --bad guy, looney authority figure, kind father. He's versatile. But this default casting phenomenon usually lasts for just a couple of years before there's a new face in the roles --remember Robin Bartlett as the sassy acquaintance in the early 90s... no? Well, I do. She traded quips with Meryl Streep as they went through rehab together in Poscards from the Edge. I still notice her popping up in similar roles on televison.

The current go to guy for roles that require an instantly sinister aura is Mark Strong. He's a regular face now. He played one of the heavies in the latest Oliver Twist, he made shady deals with George Clooney in Syriana and this summer he's working two pivotal and flashy evil roles. He's the murderous Prince Septimus in Stardust and the creepy Pinbacker in Sunshine.

Even if you don't already recognize the name you'll know his face very soon. Get this: he's got six (!) movies coming out next year. Who will he terrorize next?


adam k. said...

Stephen whathisname!!! THAT GUY! He's in everything! And he always plays the annoying, one-dimensional schlub! I'd kill myself if I were stuck in such a rut. But good for him for always getting work.

I'm finding the term "character actor" more and more ridiculous nowadays. If I had a penny for all the times I've heard "oh, so and so's like a character actor, except breathtakingly beautiful" (usually from you, Nathaniel ; )

Why don't they just change the term to "versatile but ugly actor"? That's what everyone really means.

character actors = ugly supporting actors
character actors who are beautiful = stars
beautiful non-character actors = non-respected but still rich and famous stars

I realize of course there's more to it than that, but I can't help feeling like "character actor" is often just a euphamism for ugly (but talented!). Sigh.


the other silly thing about the phrase is that most "character actors" just play one character: teacher, annoying neighbor, evil henchman, etc...

so there's hardly a range requirement at being so labelled. ;)

but i personally think mark strong is attractive so i wasn't intending for this conversation to be about ugly actors.

Anonymous said...

He's a good actor. A friend of mine from Brighton who did some acting in Sydney a while ago said he's a very nice guy too. (And he does accents very well.)

- The .....-hating Australian

Anonymous said...

Hillary Swank usually plays men.

Viv said...

Oh I donno, I think Mark Strong is hot.