Thousands of people around the globe are debating every day about actresses and actors.Whom do they like,who is overrated,who is insufferable and who was cheated of his or hers award.Who is the best,the mediocre,the worst,who is the underdog or who is the wannabe. All of these opinions are perfectly legitimate since every single acting performance is intended for the public.
From the first Brando interpretation in front of someone's mirror to the Oscar acceptance speech, everything they do is dedicated to the audience.Without it,the actors and actresses lose their raison d'etre.And the audience has enormous powers,the power to make or break,to destroy or to glorify,the power to be completely selfish and subjective in their adulation.Sometimes that power is abused in the voices of malevolent few but mostly it is the expression of love,even when it is the tough love they practise.
I don't know a single actress or actor who is immune to the response of his public but when they are thanking everyone they ever met in their professional lives,they mostly forget the most important people,their public.Without those faithful spectators,they simply could not exist.
The reverse of the loving or sometimes hating fans are the critics.Whether they are competent or not,mean or nice,they have every right to express their opinions since from the moment a performer decides to appear in front of the public and even more importantly,earn his living depending on that same public,he or she has to accept the burden of public opinion and criticism.It goes with the territory and I think it's a small price to pay in relation to all the perks of the job.
In all these public discussions about thousands of acting performances,there is one permanent question:
- Is the actor we are watching convincing,credible,"natural",do we believe the character he is playing?
Based on this criteria I have come to divide the good actors in two categories: The Great and
The Great are those actors who can always convince me about everything their character is doing but they are and always will be,before anyone else,essentially themselves.Every time I watch them I know exactly who they are.It doesn't diminish their ability to present a certain character,they have undeniable talent but their true force lies in adapting the character to themselves.It has nothing to do with technique since,as in sports,every hard working performer can learn acting techniques.It is talent+technique but that particular talent consists in absorbing the characters to their personal essence,soul,brain and physique.It doesn't diminish the authenticity of their efforts nor the results.I love most of them,dislike some,maybe hate a few but every one of them is a gifted artist and true professional.
And then there are the The Greatest,the Hall Of Fame,the Holly Grail.Those are the people we often call chameleons,the artists whose talent lies in adapting and immersing themselves into the character and losing their personalities,looks and their core in those new people they have created.Those are the performers who make you wonder who they really are but in the same time you simply don't care because you are fully absorbed in their actual on-screen incarnations.They can do anything they want in front of the camera,they can be whoever they choose to be and that is the secret of their greatness.Don't ever be fooled,it is not due to their smart career choices or their teachers,it is simply a trait of genius like in any other profession.They are unique in their ability to erase their private selves completely for a greater cause.One may like or dislike the characters they create,but not even the harshest critic could ever call them overrated.
Among many of The Great I have chosen a few of my personal favorites,in random order but the list is a work in progress.
1.Robert De Niro - the greatest of The Great but for me always essentially Robert De Niro
2.Helen Mirren - wonderful
3.Jack Nicholson - no one can be greater The Great than him
4.Cate Blanchett - I adore her and she is truly The Great
5.Al Pacino - same as for De Niro
6.Charlize Theron- fabulously The Great
7.Denzel Washington - great The Great
8.Halle Berry - so far The Great
9.Christian Bale - a younger The Great
10.Frances McDormand - love her,really and truly
11.John Malkovich - my personal favorite
12.Mia Wassikowska - The Great among young talent
13.Sean Penn - everything is crystal clear with this name
14.Kristin Scott Thomas - definitely deserving to be named The Great
15.Russel Crowe - even more versatile than we have seen in all his brilliant roles