I’ve read up a bit around Character Actors and quite possibly, I may not strictly be adhering to the definition but I’m going with the idea that a Character Actor is one who is often cast as a type of character and is not the main character (please note the “often”). I hereby present
I know stereotyping people is wrong but unfortunately (or fortunately) I have done this with Michael Wincott. To me, this Juilliard School graduate is a wonderful villain or “shady” character. I’m not saying this in a bad way…I think he is absolutely perfect and takes on these roles like no-one else could. (If you have seen him in other roles contrary to this, please bear with me as I have only really seen him in these types of roles)
Born Michael Anthony Claudio Wincott on the 21st January 1958 in Toronto, Canada, I was first introduced to him as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
I’m not sure anyone else would have had the appropriate screen presence as Michael Wincott next to Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham. He was the perfect (perfectly evil) complement to the almost comical Sheriff. That raspy voice added to the sinister that couldn’t be “acted” or put on. There was something about him that just drew me in. Possibly it’s sympathy (spoiler coming) when the Sheriff cold heartedly (in the middle of consolation), without so much as flinching, kills him, as Gisborne sheds a tear (having failed the Sheriff). Or, maybe it’s just that he’s a great artist, understated but vital.
First impressions last…I’m afraid as much as we shouldn’t go with that, we inevitably do. So, for me, that role cemented Michael Wincott as an antagonist in my mind. Can you blame me as the next role, once again a villain, was that of Top Dollar in The Crow? Calculated. Clever. Mean. As is Philo Gant of Strange Days, the next antagonist, a tripping music manager/label owner who goes to extremes to feed his addiction. Doesn’t help that the calm and collected jailer Arman Dorleac who so casually agreed that Dantes was innocent and subsequently whipped him as a first-day-in-jail gift in The Count of Monte Cristo was played by….drum roll please….
In all fairness, he’s not all “bad”. I noticed his name in the Westworld (2016) credits and kept looking out for him in the two episodes he’s meant to be in and totally missed him. I had to Google pictures of him in that series to see who he was…ah, Old Bill…wow…I never.
I must admit that I never saw his final scene in Forsaken coming…but then, here his role was hired gun doing a job but, actually, never unreasonable. In fact, he mentions that he didn’t agree to the job to work with a bunch of murderers. The “Gentleman” Dave Turner he was after all. Hmmm…to a degree.
I can’t say I’d ever expect him as a lead in a romantic comedy but whatever he takes on, he seems to do so well and is always a pleasure to watch. I have yet to see him in Basquiat which, I think, will throw my expectations of the antagonist roles out the window.
In summary, the roles I’ve seen (many of which are vague in my mind) of this wonderful artist:
Guy of Gisborne: The perfect side-kick to Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham.(Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991))
Top Dollar: He gave me the creeps as the perfectly cast villain with his calm and collected but calculated demeanor.(The Crow (1994))
Conway Twill: I haven’t seen this one in years and honestly cannot remember his role properly. I think a re-watch is long overdue.I vaguely remember him being quite a character (with some humour) and not so dark as previous roles (Dead Man (1995))
Philo Gant: A SQUID addict who goes to extremes to satisfy his cravings. (Strange Days (1995))
Gary Soneji/The Spider: Another one that I haven’t seen in ages and likewise cannot even recall him in this one. I remember him being the bad guy with an agenda (Along Came a Spider (2001))
Armand Dorleac: Do I need to say he is mean? He is the jailer of the horrid Château d’If. He doesn’t have a large role but still is horrid enough to keep the Dantes imprisoned and tortured. His matter-of-fact approach makes him so much worse (The Count of Monte Cristo (2002))
Hayes: A bounty hunter. From what I remember, he’s not mean to the bone or evil but not totally pleasant either. Seraphim Falls (2006))
Gentleman Dave Turner: In this role he totally surprised me. I was expecting the mean guy to appear but he was more just doing the job he was carried out to do. In fact, he never guns down anyone like his men. Also always calm and collected.(Forsaken (2015))
Old Bill: Here he doesn’t have a very big role (yet?) but is quite weird to watch him as Will Bill now relegated to being a saloon pianist in Dr. Robert Ford’s quarters (Well, for now anyway. I suspect he may have a greater purposes beyond what I’ve seen)(Westworld (TV Series) The Original and Contrapasso (2016))