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Ed Harris - one of the best actors working today


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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   Kevin Leonard

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Posted June 28 2001 - 09:13 PM

Man, this guy can do it all. I was watching The Abyss again and was just simply in awe of Harris' performance. It's pretty obvious James Cameron wanted to make him the heart and soul of the movie, but Harris does in stride. I noticed how he always played it quiet and low-key in all the scenes, so when those moments came where he had to fight and scream, it was jolting and very powerful. A prime example of this is when

Spoiler:
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio lies dead while Harris is desperately trying to bring her back to life


That scene absolutely floored me. Partially because of the editing and (thankfully) the lack of music, but Harris just gives it his all and literally makes his voice hoarse and violently shakes
Spoiler:
Mastrantonio
. Even when Harris stays quiet during the movie, you can feel the authority this guy has; you know the crew has immense respect for this man.

Another great example of his awesomeness can be seen by his (uncredited) appearance in the miniseries The Stand. Harris has very few scenes (three or four, I believe), but he makes the most of it. Playing a general who is aware that a superflu that is killing off people, Harris conveys all the sadness, rage and helplessness of somebody who wants to stop the disease from spreading but is torn between wanting to help save the world and serving his country. And you want know how he does this? Just by his stare. No words. Just him staring at a monitor, focusing on an image of a dead superflu victim. His eyes say a lot more than any line of dialogue could. Not many actors can do that.

Apollo 13? The Truman Show? Anybody notice how similar these roles are for Harris? Think about it: both characters are in control of a situation that has settled into a routine, but quickly snap into action when that situation turns potentially dangerous. A lot of people thought that Harris played an evil megalomaniac in Truman, while in Apollo he played a caring flight commander. Well, I thought those roles were one in the same. It's another testament to his acting that he can play the same type of role in two movies and create two distinctly different impressions on audiences.

Even during his earlier years, you can kind of see a nervous energy in movies like Knightriders and Creepshow that comes into full blossom on 1983's The Right Stuff, where he played one of our most beloved American heroes, John Glenn. And when Harris needs to do over-the-top, he still manages not to pomp and vamp it up like some other actors. Witness Glengarry Glen Ross and State of Grace. Man, when Harris screams in those two movies, I almost jump back! Posted Image In Glengarry, when he states that Al Pacino's character "has the memory of a fucking fly," I laugh, but warily, because I can practically see the vein in Harris' head, and it looks like it--along with his temper--is about to explode. Yet he still keeps it real.

So, in closing, I'd just like to say that Ed Harris is one of those actors who can instantly lend credibility to any project (save Stepmom and Milk Money, but we all make mistakes Posted Image ). I have yet to see Pollack, but when the DVD comes out I will buy it sight unseen, because of Harris' presence. Well, and the presence of Jennifer Connelly too, but mostly because of Harris. Posted Image


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#2 of 22 OFFLINE   DavidAC

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Posted June 28 2001 - 11:32 PM

Harris is a great actor but the one role that really stands out for me was the Abyss, he was great in that movie.

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Dominik Droscher

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Posted June 29 2001 - 01:54 AM

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#4 of 22 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted June 29 2001 - 08:43 AM

Yeah, Dominik, he is...intense...to say the least. Posted Image

But no matter what his persona on set may be, I do agree that he is one of the best actors working today. Highly underrated and overlooked for the most part.

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#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Rob Willey

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Posted June 29 2001 - 08:59 AM

Kevin, I agree with you on Ed Harris' inestimable talent. You're in for a treat with Pollock. He really chews the scenery and I think it's one of his best performances. Rob ------------------ "That suits me down to the ground."
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#6 of 22 OFFLINE   John Spencer

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Posted June 29 2001 - 10:11 AM

So is it not required that when you make such a declarative statement in a topic header, it must be preceded by the phrase "Is it just me, or is(n't)..."
Is it just me?
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#7 of 22 OFFLINE   Andres Munoz

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Posted June 29 2001 - 10:28 AM

Another Ed Harris fan here. The man is just unbelievable.
He was also great in "State of Grace".


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#8 of 22 OFFLINE   andreasingo

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Posted June 29 2001 - 10:53 AM

I saw a thriller once, I have forgot the title of the movie, in swedish it is called 'I sanningens tjänst'. Well the movie was a decent crime story also staring Sean Connory but one thing that really stood out was Ed Harris. He played a convict and at first I didn't know what to expect. Then he went from calm and reasonable to the look of the devil! That scene was one of the most intense scenes I ever have seen and it was all because of Ed Harris performance. Ed Harris highlights for me is this movie, the drowning/rescue scenes in The Abyss and his character in Apollo 13. Those roles alone makes him one of the best actors ever in my book.
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#9 of 22 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted June 29 2001 - 11:09 AM

You're thinking of Just Cause. I knew a guy who worked on that movie as a "Staff Assistant" (because, apparently, you had to pay "Production Assistants" more) told me that some of Harris's best stuff got left on the cutting room floor; he was hoping that it would be included on the laserdisc (this was a while ago).

He also had a few "why you shouldn't work with Sean Connery ever" stories, but that's sort of off-topic. Posted Image
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#10 of 22 OFFLINE   Kevin Leonard

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Posted June 29 2001 - 12:50 PM

[quote]

Is it just me?

[quote]
Yeah, it's you. Posted Image

Hey Jason, I'd be REALLY interested in hearing those Sean Connery stories...

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#11 of 22 OFFLINE   Mitty

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Posted June 29 2001 - 04:34 PM

To me, Ed Harris is the Volvo of actors. Dependable, but without an excess of flair. His permances impress me, but they almost never delight me (and no, 'delight' is not something that has to be associated with musicals or comedies). He's like a pitcher whose fastball rarely hits 90, strikes out very few, walks almost no one, and always gets you into the 7th inning.

I hope my analogy isn't too confusing. Posted Image

#12 of 22 OFFLINE   andreasingo

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Posted June 29 2001 - 04:40 PM

Interresting, perhaps those scenes were in the swedish version I saw because it looked like he changed into something beyond human!
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#13 of 22 OFFLINE   Jon_Are

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Posted June 29 2001 - 06:43 PM

[quote]

He's like a pitcher whose fastball rarely hits 90, strikes out very few, walks almost no one, and always gets you into the 7th inning.

[quote]

To me, Mitty, he's more like the defenseman who ices the puck along the boards only to find the right fielder fair catch it, then get blindsided by the coxswain in an obvious attempt to force another scrum. Posted Image

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#14 of 22 OFFLINE   Niko Nykanen

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Posted June 30 2001 - 01:03 AM

[quote]

He also had a few "why you shouldn't work with Sean Connery ever" stories, but that's sort of off-topic.

[quote]

Jason Seaver: Well, tell the Connery stories, but put them in spoilertags huh?!?! Please!??!
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#15 of 22 OFFLINE   Ashley Seymour

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Posted June 30 2001 - 08:26 AM

Enemy at the Gates shows another example of a performance held in check by Harris. His character Major Konig, a German sniper is dispatched to Stalingrad to counter the growing success of the first Soviet war hero, sniper Vasily Zaitsev. Harris avoids a cartoon portryal of a Nazi, but gives a very chilling performance. Zaitzev is a peasant boy who leans to hunt wolves with his grandfather. When drafted and sent across the Volga to serve as more cannon fodder be befriends a Commisar when he picks up a fallen comrade's rifle and shoots the Germans who are pinning them down. The Commisar turns him into a hero and inspiration for the men and women fighting in Stalingrad, on other fronts, and in the mines and factories. The role of hero is not natural to Zaitzev and he feels unworthy. In his duel with Major Harris he lacks the confidence that he can win. Harris' plays his character in contract to his adversary. Major Konig looks the Aryan, he moves with a quite assurance of a man who is confident and proud of his gruesume abilities. He is able to look through the scope of a rifle and coldly and methodiclly squeeze a trigger that will mechanically transfer energy to a cartridge and bullet that will travel hundreds of meters to enter and exit the skull of another human. Why is he coldly arrogant? He doesn't don the sniper outfit of his counterpart. Zaitzev wraps his weapon and scope in cloth and wears a filthy outfit that none-the-less serves as camoflague. Major Harris is cocky enough that he doesnt cover his grey uniform, his scope or rifle. There are no prouncements of Aryan superiority, but this contrast with his station and the peasant Zaitsev is palpable. He gets to enjoy a quality cigarette and wiskey as a Russian boy, Sasha clean his boots. He corrupts the boy with bacon and chocolate to disclose information about Zaitzev. Major Konig determins that the young boy will betray his comrade because if his self interest and love of chocolate. He doesnt believe that he cannot discern when he is being lied to. There is nothing exciting about Harris' character, but that is the beauty of his performance. Quiet assurance and arrogance. One spoiler. The movie was almost ruined for me when the final faceoff between the adversaries played out it's fateful resolution.
Spoiler:
Major Konig thinking he has just killed the Zaitsev who carelessly has exposed his head to a fatal shot, leave his position under a sheet metal cover. He walkes carelessly across open ground to inspect his kill. That is when Zaitsev steps out and they both know their fait. Zaitsev has the drop on Konig and all the Major can do is offer a weak smile of recognition and as a salute to a worthy opponet. From my previous reading of an account of this action, Major Konig was under the metal and Zaitsev took a shot at the metal because he could not get a clear view of him. It worked. Snipers live and die snaking along the ground, in dirt, cold, and wet filth. The movie ending wanted to have the two adversaries have a walk down mainstreet to settle up the score, man to man. It was a weak ending to a very good movie and great performances by Ed Harris and Jude Law amoung others.
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#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Jeff_A

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Posted September 02 2001 - 01:58 PM

I have just finished viewing POLLOCK. My answer to the subject header would simply have to be - YES! I am still sorting out his performance. Posted Image

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#17 of 22 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted September 02 2001 - 10:13 PM

What, no Glengarry, Glen Ross?? Mitty, I have to disagree with you just a bit. Performances in which I found Ed dominating and gripping: Abyss Right Stuff Glengarry Glen Ross Truman Show (let's face it, the first half is about Truman, the 2nd half is really about Christof) Now, I do agree that his usual effort is the workhorse that is more subtle than someone like Nicholson (in a good way), but he has shined. I liked Enemy/Gates and Pollock, but don't think those were efforts as strong as the above mentioned films. He also is probably the active actor with the most strong performances to not have an Oscar. He and Sean Penn.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   Craig

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Posted September 03 2001 - 02:05 PM

Another early Harris movie is UNDER FIRE, released in '83. He more than holds his own with Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman. A very good movie by the way. [Edited last by Craig on September 03, 2001 at 05:35 PM]

#19 of 22 OFFLINE   James Fucich

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Posted September 04 2001 - 09:40 AM

Kevin, I couldn't agree with you more, my friend! Harris' performance in the Abyss will stand as one of the most underrated acting performances in history, IMHO! I love this movie because of him! I haven't seen Pollock yet but after reading this post, it's next on my list... Don't forget Just Cause: another underrated performance by Mr. Harris. His Oscar is long overdue.
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#20 of 22 OFFLINE   Justin Doring

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Posted September 16 2001 - 07:40 PM

I agree that Harris is one of the best actors currently working in Hollywood. He always brings class to the films he's in. ------------------ "Home is where the theater is!"
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