Sunday, May 24, 2009

Signatures: Catherine O'Hara

Adam of Club Silencio here with another look at my favorite actresses and their distinguishing claims to fame.

Who can blame Catherine O'Hara for leaving Macaulay Culkin home alone... twice... on Christmas... in major metropolitan cities. Artists have other priorities. And as an artist who's consistently playing other artists, Catherine O' Hara certainly knows the bittersweet sides to success. It's all for her art.

From SCTV to her ensemble comedies with Christopher Guest, Catherine O'Hara's donned many different and hilarious characteristic quirks. For me the most beloved is watching her catch the creative bug. Regional theatre, folk music, film production and sculpture - all the more opportunities for Catherine to find her greatest inspiration and internal expression. Somehow, amidst all the neurotic pursuit of fame and and shallow self-service that comes with being an artist, Catherine's always understood that less is more.

"Less is More" Method Acting:

When you're talking to someone you close your eyes - and then you look at them when you're not talking to the person. I mean you open your eyes when you're looking away, but then when you talk to the person you go like that - and you open your eyes - and then you look back at the person, but you never open your eyes when you're talking to them.

Perhaps "less is more" can also be applied to the way that Catherine provides even her most hysterical and horrifying characters with the subtlest shades of heart and humanity. It's a shame that we've only heard the "for your consideration" buzz and never the award win she wholly deserves. But then Catherine's not the type do just anything to win an Oscar, even if her characters are.

I do have trouble doing jobs that I don't really believe in. After Home Alone, another actor might have jumped on that and said, 'I am the reason this is such a big movie.' But I guess I've always been only half-ambitious -- kind of resentfully, after-the-fact ambitious. I'll see something and say, 'How did she get that? I could have done better.' Maybe it's an Irish thing... to hold back from putting yourself on the line and then say, 'That should have been me.'

At this point she's a comedy veteran with the refreshing ability to laugh at the business and take pot-shots at her botoxed peers. Her humor is a craft in itself. Catherine O'Hara is the rare and glimmering artist who's always avoided becoming trapped in her art... Almost always.

This is my art, and it is dangerous! Do you think I want to die like this?!


Anonymous said...

I know I am alone in this one, but when she starts breaking down in Home Alone, I do too. That scene with her and John Candy in the truck gets me every time and its totally because of those two people.

Sean said...

I love Catherine O'Hara
Why she isn't more respected I'll never know.
Her work is always astounding, especially in Waiting For Guffman, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration.

Adam said...

She is actually pretty touching in "Home Alone," jokes aside. An SCTV reunion as well.

And though I only off-mentioned it in the post, she's really hilarious in her guest stint on "Six Feet Under." Anyone who already loves her who hasn't seen those episodes should check them out.

Wayne B. said...

Excellent; she's on this list I recently made of personal favourites.

mrripley said...

i loved her airport scenes in home alone but eally disliked her for your consideration performance,overdone for me unbelievable,i wonder which roles she thought should've been hers.

karigee said...

I adore her, especially in "A Mighty Wind." My great dream is to have coffee with her and Andrea Martin some day.

Bailey said...

Even though I'm sure this thread is dead by now, I just had to comment. I LOVE Catherine O'Hara!!! So underrated and underused. I too always tear up about the Home Alone scene that brianmaru mentioned, and her work in Beetlejuice, Christopher Guest films, and everything else I've ever seen her in is fantastic. She is so natural and subtle and interesting with her acting. Sigh. More Catherine O'Hara! Please Hollywood!