What a Character Blogathon

A Strong Character…

A few (I think) years back, the following ad caught me eye on TV (and I NEVER notice ads) not because of the brand being advertised…actually…give it a watch…I won’t need to explain:

So, I take it you know where I’m heading…definitely not the car route… 😉

But more specifically…one of these “bad” men…Mark Strong. Until recently, he was typically cast in the villain roles (hence the above appropriate clip). In fact, I’m often drawn to the actors not in the lead. And, don’t think bad of me, the villains are often exactly those that catch my eye. So much more exciting aren’t they? And just possibly a means of “living a little wild” from the safety of my mind…anyway, that’s not the point…but…hmmm….I assume that explains why a particular villain (or rather, the actor behind that villain) caught my eye in Robin Hood (2010). Yes…Godfrey, played so brilliantly by Mark Strong. Cold and calculating, ok, fine, sooooo cliché, let me start again…he was a man with an agenda…and played so convincingly.

MarkStrongRobinHoodIt was also at this point it dawned on me that I’d seen this actor before. In a number of roles. Yes, definitely a familiar face. Yet the person a mystery. But finally, with his role as Godfrey, I could put a name to the face. Off to look him up…and voila….you see…I was right…I HAVE seen him before. He was Wictred in Tristan + Isolde. And yes, at the time of watching this movie I’d also wondered who the actor was (I wasn’t focusing too hard on the leads and, I digress, I didn’t really mind Isolde being won by Mark…but that’s a topic for another day), but, because I never caught the character’s name I had no way of knowing the actor. And once again, a more “unsavoury” character…back-stabing and with a lust for power. One with some “oomph”.

Then came Lord Blackwood a la Jack the Ripper in Sherlock Holmes (2010). Oh what the perfect villain he makes. (cackle, cackle)

So, by this stage, I had a particular, should I say, “expectation”, of Mr Strong. Therefore, when The Way Back came along, I had a preconceived idea that his character Khabarov would be the “usual” up-to-no-good traitor or the like. I won’t, however, tell you if he is or isn’t. That would take all the fun out of this…wouldn’t it?

Now, I must tell you something terrible…I honestly cannot remember Mark Strong being in The Eagle, but apparently he was. I’m so sorry but I just can’t remember. Although, am I forgiven for saying I can’t remember another prominent actor (and I’m not talking about the two “leads”)?

JohnCarterAnd if I’m already on confessions…the only reason I watched John Carter (yes, I cringe too)…uhm…was for Mark Strong (and James Purefoy and Dominic West). And I only got as far as I did because of these supporting actors. Definitely wasn’t because of the story. But, that said, another fine performance by the actor I’m chit chatting about.

I’ll give you points for recognising Mark Strong in the movie Sunshine (he was in two Sunshine movies…here I’m on about the 2007 one, not the 1999 one). While not a big on-screen role, his actions play quite a part in the story. Need I mention that he isn’t the good guy? Oh but what I must mention is that this is such a superb movie that seems to have slipped under the sun radar.

welcome-to-the-punch-pic04Along came Welcome to the Punch, another one that didn’t get many positive reviews, but you know what? I thought it was great! Not only was one of my favourite “villains” back but the entire movie was fun (or at least I thought it was). And somehow, Strong‘s character Jacob Sternwood didn’t feel like such a baddie…

Hmmm…it is quite strange though, that the last two roles I’ve seen him in have not fallen into this “type” (for lack of a better word). Chronologically I know that Body of Lies goes somewhere into the midst of the movies mentioned above, but in my personal viewing history, it comes very recently. Here it has him as Hani, Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate head. I kept expecting him to be the main antagonist. *Sigh*

Kingsman

And the last, wonderful role I’ve seen him in (to date. More to come)…Merlin in Kingsman: The Secret Service. I absolutely loved this “lighter” role. Oh, the characterisation of Merlin, was, delightful superb. But then, would you expect anything else from such a dynamic actor?

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Born in 1963, more specifically, on the 5th August 1963, this British actor complements any ensemble he joins. Perfect in any role. Be it the good (Merlin), the bad (need we mention roles?) or the ugly (Pinbacker). And, apologies if I have “pigeonholed” this wonderful artist….but oh how I do enjoy a good villain.

Thanks to the hosts of this wonderful Blogathon ( Outspoken & Freckled, Paula’s Cinema Club and Once Upon a Screen). This is my second time joining them and it is always a pleasure. Last year I covered Michael Wincott (here).

 

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What a Character – Michael Wincott

wac1I’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

Michael Wincott

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.

guygisborne

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.

crowmichaelwincott2

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….

Michael Wincott.

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.

michaelwincottforsakenI 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))

strangedaysmwincottPhilo 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))

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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))

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