Poll: Great Acting Performance or Memorable Character?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dome Vongvises, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    If you were an actor/actress, would you prefer putting on a great acting performance, or would you rather be a memorable character for the ages?

    I bring this question up because I've always been curious about some actor's priorties. This isn't to say that one characteristic is mutually exclusive from the other. There are actually several examples in which a great acting performance is coupled with a memorable character (memorable being defined as easily identified by a majority of movie-goers). These examples include Marlon Brando's portrayal of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Ask common man or woman on the street, and they can easily identify these people.

    But there are great performances, but nobody will be able to recognize the characters in ten to twenty years. We all know Jack Nicholson's turn as R.P. McMurphy. But can some cashier at a drive thru in McDonald's know that question?

    There are great characters for the ages. There's Han Solo of the OT Star Wars fame. There's Indiana Jones. There's even Ash from the Evil Dead series. But does this qualify as great acting? Certainly not, but that doesn't mean the acting is terrible. The acting is very good, but not great.

    So what will it be? Great performance or great character?
     
  2. Elizabeth S

    Elizabeth S Producer

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    I would go with great performance. I would think as an actor, the challenge is in creating strong, DIFFERENT characterizations. And "memorable character" often translates to stereotype. Other times, an actor portraying a "memorable character" is a bit more replaceable than one thinks; e.g., James Bond, Jack Ryan.
     
  3. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    What Elizabeth said. [​IMG]
    Good topic, BTW. [​IMG]
     
  4. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Yes, what Elizabeth said is right.

    Ask Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) which he would prefer!
     
  5. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  6. JenB

    JenB Screenwriter

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    Mark Hamill was Luke Skywalker not Han Solo and has done ok for himself but not great often playing bad guys in movies and television nowadays while Harrison Ford (Han Solo and Indiana Jones) has enough power in Hollywood to do anything he wants and has done quite a mix of great performances and memorable characters.
     
  7. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Oops, sorry. Obviously I meant "Luke Skywalker" not Han Solo.

    :b

    But to say that Mark Hammill has "done ok for himself" is being very generous! Considering the incredible amount of exposure he gained from portraying Luke Skywalker, his subsequent career was poor, at best.
     
  8. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Rob Tomlin said:
     
  9. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Elizabeth S said:
     
  10. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure the two are ever exclusive. A memorable character may well be the result of a great performance even though it may not seem so. The greatest actors are those who make you forget they're acting and make it seem like anyone could get up on the screen and do it themselves.
    I was privileged to see Kathrine Hepburn on Broadway in The West Side Waltz, not a great play or even a great character but after her 5 minute standing ovation upon entering the stage, she made you forget who she was in less than 15 minutes. That's an amazing feat.
    Similarly I'd say that some others might qualify. Look at Nigel Bruce of the Sherlock Holmes series. He had to underplay to Rathbone's overplaying yet actually become Dr. Watson as solidly as Rathbone became Holmes. Forever they will be the quintessential Holmes and Watson yet nobody would think to hand them an award.
    The roles which win are interpreted as great performances need to be vehicles for that sort of consideration. This is largely up to the director and the script though certainly a great actor can, on occasion, give a minor role enough impact to break out (Hattie McDaniel's Mammie in Gone With the Wind). Character actors are frequently the finest actors whose names no one can remember but recognize immediately upon seeing. Character actors aren't given the "great performance" roles but are likely to be memorable because the supporting roles are more colorful. The Star Wars series is a perfect example. The leads in Star Wars are frequently mediocre to decent but never surpass the outstanding character actors who become the most memorable. In that particular case it's easy to see how character actors make themselves memorable without appearing to be doing an award-worthy performance.
     
  11. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  12. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I was thinking the other day about other discrepancies among memorable characters and great acting performances. One more would be Bruce Willis. He's done better acting jobs in Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, and The Sixth Sense, but people are always going to remember him as action hero John McClane of Die Hard fame.
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I can’t improve on what Elizabeth wrote. [​IMG]
     

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