Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten: Weirdos

Let's venture where few actors dare to go... or stay, rather. Many thespians go to strange places onscreen but few remain in those outer regions for several films in a row or radiate that quite naturally as a celebrity. This list is dedicated to Angelina Jolie who used to be magnetically weird despite her beauty but is now a classy world-famous humanitarian and earth mother. Shame.

Top Ten Weirdo Actors

This list does not include Tom Cruise because.... too easy.

10 Rossy DePalma -She's not the only bizarre looking person on the list but she's the only one who is here because of how strange the mug is. And yet it's made for the screen, too, don't you think? So pleased that Almodovar has cast her for the sixth time (She'll be in his 2009 feature Broken Hugs. I like to think of this director/muse pair as the modern Spanish counterpart to 70s era Shelley Duvall & Robert Altman. Would Rossy be too much to handle in a lead role? Try Pedro, try.

Has anyone sniffed her perfume? What ever does it smell like?

09 Johnny Depp -I almost didn't include him because of the familiarity. His weirdness is Disney marketable now: cute, safe, beloved. But then again it doesn't feel artificial, or like a costume he puts on for show the way Norma Jean could famously flip her switch to access Marilyn Monroe. One only has to consider how quickly it came to him --his first Burton film (Edward Scissorhands) and the way the delicious 'beautiful people' years with Winona Ryder always had a gothic undercurrent and sense of humor "Wino Forever" -- and that it never left again. Defecting to France, Captain Jack Sparrow, and that sartorial sense that seems to be composed of equal parts 70s pimp, 90s grunge rocker and Batman's The Joker, all of it just underlines the genuine strangeness.

08 Isabelle Huppert -She's either the greatest actress who ever lived or she's insane, possibly both. I came to this conclusion after watching The Piano Teacher and 8 Women in short succession. Ma Mére only confirmed it. Please don't leave me alone in a room with her.

07 Daniel Day-Lewis -If there is a God and that whole favorite Christian saying 'don't hide your light under a bushel' applies to life in general than God is very mad at DDL for working so infrequently. But he's on this list because he makes his own shoes and because we suspect God is actually more Daniel-Fearing than the other way 'round.

06 Tilda Swinton -Subversive. Brilliant. Iconoclastic. Odd in all of the most inspiring enviable ways. Plus the filmography is to die for ...any artistically bent actor should be green with envy.

05 Vincent Gallo. Maybe the people who agree to (ahem) co-star with him are even crazier.

04 John Malkovich. Charlie Kauffman, screenwriter extraordinaire, has made many perceptive and bizarrely witty choices in his oeuvre. None are greater than putting a portal inside this actor's head for Being John Malkovich. Sure, you could have creative fun for hours imagining variations of this film with a different name following the Being... [it becomes a whole 'nother film --try it], but no actor could have possibly fit better into the inimitably odd demands of this head trip.

"Malkovich! Malkovitch! Malkovitch!"

03 Crispin Glover. Perhaps an obvious choice but even when he goes entirely mainstream (Charlie's Angels or Back to the Future f'rinstance) he's decidedly off. Couldn't quite call myself a "fan" but I do at least cherish all three "Groovin' Larry/Gary"s in The Beaver Trilogy. I seriously do. Have any of you seen it? You won't soon forget it.

02 Juliette Lewis. Many actors dream of being rock stars (and vice versa) but Juliette is one of the only ones who does both convincingly. She was a freak from the get go: an emancipated minor at 14, shacking up with Brad Pitt at 17, Bo Derek braids to the Oscars after salaciously sucking Robert DeNiro's thumb in Cape Fear. She's given so many fine and disturbed performances. Her greatest is in Natural Born Killers in which she's both scarier and funnier than Woody Harrelson with her possessed mood switches and jumping bean mayhem. But the rosetta stone to her public persona onscreen is "Faith" in Strange Days (1995), in which she gives half of a great performance, seems a little wasted and is also possessed by rock n roll dreaming while she's channeling PJ Harvey on stage.

She's one of a kind. Why is Hollywood so scared to use her properly? She's only 34 but she hasn't had a decent movie role since 2000. Get with it casting directors. Time is a wastin'.

01 Christopher Walken. Whether he's imagining deadly car crashes with numb conviction (Annie Hall), playing Russian roulette (The Deer Hunter), dancing in an empty hotel in one of the best music videos ever made (Weapon of Choice), sexing up John Travolta (Hairspray), or badly in need of dental hygiene (Sleepy Hollow) he's always defiantly joyfully weird. Well done.

Would love to hear your lists. Obviously oddity is in the eye of the beholder. There were many others I almost included instead like Sharon Stone [check this out. tee hee] or any proselytizing Scientologists. There's a whole other list to be made of faux-weird ...people we suspect may be deeply and utterly suburban despite outward appearances to the contrary.

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Ivan R. Lopez said...

I think Amanda Plummer was snubbed.

Anonymous said...

God, how I love BJM. Has any actor ever parodied themselves more brilliantly?

Oh, and what you said about the Madonna video the other day? Times ten for "Weapons". What a delight - I could watch that on an endless loop. hiphop, tap a la classical hollywood musicals, references to Crouching tiger style acrobatics - plus Christopher Walken? *sigh* I could go on for hours...

It reminded me that I've never seen 1981's "Pennies from Heaven" (it seems appropriate to mention, as there's been some posts in other threads about Hollywood musicals at the tail end of the era):


How often is the goddess of musical theater Bernadette Peters set off to the side with nothing to do but react while someone else takes center stage? And who else (except maybe Ewan McGregor, perhaps?) could take on a male striptease-tap dance-lip synch number with such wholehearted exuberance?

Regarding Juliette Lewis - I think at this point it's her choice, rather than that of casting directors, to concentrate on music rather than acting. It's not hard to imagine that as a singer she enjoys a degree of control that actors often lack.


Anonymous said...

Let's see....

Uma's first husband
Lili Taylor
Steve Buscemi
Sam Rockwell
Helena Bonham Carter
Stephen Rea
Willem Dafoe
Jeremy Irons
Ben Foster
Mickey Rourke
Vincent Cassel
Giovanni Ribisi


Anonymous said...

Gotta agree that Buscemi should be on the list. If you had included non-working folks, would Marty Feldman have made it?


i didn't go with Mickey Rourke and Val Kilmer and Lili Taylor cuz I was trying to be current and aside from Rourke they're kinda normal now...

but i love these suggestions.

especially willem dafoe. I saw him in a really excellent experimental theater piece in DUMBO a few years back --even weirder onstage!

Michael Parsons said...

Bai Ling! Maybe not so much for movies, but her choices are weird and so b-movie (perhaps all she can get.

Still wish someone would take a chance. She stole "Anna and the King" from Jodie

Anonymous said...

If your list had been made 30 years ago :

Helmut Berger !!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer Jason Leigh,

for playing hookers after hookers..

Anonymous said...


I saw Huppert thrice on stage and met her two times, at a festival and at a master-class, I even talked to her, she's not dangerous, she doesn't even seem crazy, just an actress who likes to play damaged, complex, disturbing women

Glenn Dunks said...

I really want to go see Juliette & and the Licks in concert this month, but it's on the w/e of my brother's wedding so... ya know...

Anonymous said...

JOHN WATERS! and his crew

NicksFlickPicks said...

Isn't Billy Bob Thornton awfully strange? And isn't Sharon Stone plum crazy? But I like your picks better.

Anonymous said...

lol nick

Sharon is only weird in real life, so that doesn't count

Thombeau said...

Some of these actors are great. Others, quite unnecessary.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Wait a minute, a list with John Malkovich that does not include the man with the Machiavellian voice, Jeremy Irons? Something is wrong over there.

And my favorite Juliette Lewis performance would be in Kalifornia (or California with a K as it's more well known with film buffs around here).

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, what about the entire Arquette clan?

evermoon said...

From the start I knew Christopher Walken would be number one haha. What about Isabella Rossellini, if only for her Green Porno series of shorts?

Anonymous said...

Klaus Kinski!!

Or did these have to be current weirdos? I think so. Either way, great list. Although Juliette Lewis should stop singing and go back to acting. Her music hurts me-- my brain and my soul.


Eric, just for you Juliette is now singing in the sidebar.


Catherine said...

I know you mentioned her, but I'd give Shelley Duvall a spot of her own. I watched 3 Women recently and was astounded at her in it.


catherine yes totally. I would have handed her an Oscar nomination for that film, EASILY. And it's a pretty good year already for female performances.

but i was trying to keep the list current and Duvall hasn't made a movie in 6 years.

what gives?

Anonymous said...

Jared Leto is really weird...

Anonymous said...

Seeing Walken in first place makes me happy. He can make weird genius out of exactly anything - he even managed the herculean feat of making Gigli watchable for three minutes.

If Werner Herzog was a more prominent actor, I'd vote for him too. He must have given some of the most insane voice-overs ever.

Anonymous said...

Christian Bale. Dude lost like 100 pounds for The Machinist, gained it all back and then some for Batman Begins, then lost it all AGAIN for Rescue Dawn, then gained it all back for Dark Knight.
Oh, wait...now I get it. He's not dedicated or Method...he's just really, really bulimic.
But still really weird. Does anyone that famous have such a diverse filmography?

Mary Elizabeth Keller said...

I realize you've gone with living, working actors, but I could almost wish the clock turned back 20 yrs so 'My Best Fiend' Klaus Kinski, surely a top ten weirdo for all time.


Pen ---yes Christian Bale's "commitment" (is that what we're calling mental disorder these days ---kidding) terrifies. I am actually scared of him (see my top ten actors of the aughts list for proof)

and Klaus Kinski. Happy to hear him mentioned so much. Definitely an all-timer.

Jayne said...

To add to Tilda's rep, she has 2 men in her life: an old one and a young one, and they all live happily together. rock on, sister.


good point Jayne. unconventional on and off.

one of about 12,376 reasons to love her.

is that so wrong? said...

Doesn't Rossy DePalma look strangely like a The Shining-era Shelley Duvall? At least a little bit.

Anonymous said...

The original post is fabulous, and all comments are commendable. There are so many wonderful nominees for Best Weirdo. How about the late, great J.T. Walsh?