Really good character actors don't often get much love. Many times that's because the performance is so good we don't recognize the craftsmanship that goes into the role.
We simply don't realize the actor is acting!
There are some fine character actors working today. Actors--both male and female--who use their skills to make wonderful works of art.
Here's my Top 5 Character Actors:
Steve Buscemi: I first noticed Buscemi as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. It wasn't his quirky nature that caught my attention, but the way he debated with his co-conspirators-- as they sat in a diner-- about his strong-held beliefs on tipping waiters. Buscemi immediately improves any film he is in. He's a fine director as well, having directed several episodes of the HBO hit The Sopranos.
John C. Reilly: Reilly's character Reed Rothchild was the reason I loved Boogie Nights. His best-friend turn to lead Mark Whalberg was simply brilliant, and a turning point in the career of a guy who can do it all: musicals, drama, comedy.
Reilly is brilliant. The one movie in which he had a lead--Criminal--was watchable only because of Reilly's skill.
Chris Cooper: Matewan was the first movie about West Virginia of which I can recall feeling proud. Much of that feeling had to do with how Cooper portrayed Joe Kenehan, a union organizer. Cooper brings a subdued emotion to the characters he portrays, and consistently turns out terrific performances.
Eugene Levy: Look, don't dismiss this guy as an actor because of his SCTV days, and because some of his best work came in Chris Guest mockumentaries. Levy made the first American Pie flick a hit, and his role as Gerry Fleck in Best In Show should have earned him an Academy Award nod.
Although, I'd like to forget The Man...
Phillip Seymour Hoffman: Sure, you're gonna complain I jumped the shark with Hoffman as a character actor. Just because of Capote. I'm telling you that Capote was an anomaly. Not the brilliant performance, just the lead actor role. Hoffman's role in Capote was a character one, even though it was the lead. And it was--just as all his roles are--nothing short of incredible.
As good as it was, I liked Hoffman better in Magnolia.
OK, that's my list. What's yours look like?