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-   -   What/Who are the best "Chewing the Scenery" Films/Actors? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=818626)

The Stainless Steel Rat 02-08-2017 06:12 PM

What/Who are the best "Chewing the Scenery" Films/Actors?
 
In case anyone isn't familiar with the term, "Chewing the Scenery" is defined as: Displaying excessive emotion or acting in an exaggerated manner while performing; to be melodramatic; to be flamboyant. Normally this is considered to be a Bad Thing, worthy of criticism and ridicule, but on occasion there is a need for it and actors (and by this I mean good actors, not some refugee from a SyFy monster movie) use it to enhance the movie.

Reason I mention it is I just watched "Buckaroo Banzai", where John Lithgow, who has won more than a few awards for his undeniable acting ability, simply owns the movie with his way over-the-top portrayal of alien-possessed Dr. Emil Lizardo ("Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife; doomed is your soul and dammed is your life.")

The other one that come immediately to mind is Brian Blessed as the Hawk King Vultan in "Flash Gordon". In an otherwise barely competent acting troop, Blessed not only chewed the scenery, he probably chewed the director's chair and part of the building, but damn, he's the only reason to watch the movie. ("Oh well, who wants to live forever? DIVE!!)

So what have I missed? Again, it has to be actors that have done competent work before or after and their overacting enhance the movie instead of dragging it down.

Dendarii Dame 02-08-2017 06:24 PM

A number of the actors who've played the Doctor, with Tom Baker and David Tennant leading the way.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-08-2017 06:26 PM

I think Samuel L. Jackson is an Oscar-caliber actor.

I say this because I've seen him play a calm, low-key guy.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-08-2017 07:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Stainless Steel Rat (Post 19987080)
I just watched "Buckaroo Banzai", where John Lithgow, who has won more than a few awards for his undeniable acting ability, simply owns the movie with his way over-the-top portrayal of alien-possessed Dr. Emil Lizardo

Quote:

So what have I missed?
Well, you realize that Christopher Lloyd was in that one, right?

At that, I'm pretty sure Gene Wilder had two settings: 'regular' and 'atomic'.

SaharaTea 02-08-2017 07:07 PM

Al Pacino's performance in The Devil's Advocate is crazy over the top, and I love every second of it. I would say the same for Scarface. I guess one could argue that most of his work now is scenery-chewing, but those are my favorites.

running coach 02-08-2017 07:24 PM

Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element.

Barkis is Willin' 02-08-2017 07:26 PM

Daniel Day Lewis in pretty much anything. Especially Gangs and TWWB. Love him in both of those, but man he's intense.

RealityChuck 02-08-2017 07:39 PM

The best example of scenery chewing recently was the UK TV series Vicious, where Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, and Frances de la Tour compete to see who can chew the most.

silenus 02-08-2017 07:43 PM

Khaaaaaaannnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!

a

Andy L 02-08-2017 07:46 PM

Lenny Henry in "Chef!" - for example https://tune.pk/video/3547187/salt-f...-bbc-show-chef

Shatner can do subtle, affecting acting, but he can certainly chew scenery.

Chefguy 02-08-2017 08:12 PM

Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs". Most people are surprised to learn that he was only on screen for 16 minutes total, but he's been a serious ham in other films, as well.

Jack Nicholson improved nearly every movie he was in over his career, but was most memorable when he was at his most manic.

buddha_david 02-08-2017 08:17 PM

Richard E. Grant as Withnail in Withnail & I.

Kenneth Branaugh as Prof. Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

In both cases, their ultra-exaggerated, dial-it-up-to-eleven acting styles perfectly fit the characters they were portraying.

Brown Eyed Girl 02-08-2017 08:27 PM

The original scenery chewer, Gloria Swanson, of course, in Sunset Boulevard.

Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.

Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment.

Gary Oldman in True Romance.

Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.

Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction.

Snowboarder Bo 02-08-2017 09:17 PM

Let's not forget Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross; he upstaged Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon and Ed Harris ffs.

Son of a Rich 02-08-2017 09:25 PM

Charlton Heston.

RivkahChaya 02-08-2017 09:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19987264)
The best example of scenery chewing recently was the UK TV series Vicious, where Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, and Frances de la Tour compete to see who can chew the most.

McKellan and Jacobi can be subdued as well, though.

Robert De Niro does it in virtually every movie.

Gloria Swanson was not the first, nor was Sunset Boulevard the first film in which she did it. Donald Crisp did it in Broken Blossoms in 1919, for example, and Swanson did it in an early talkie called Indiscreet. Joan Crawford was a master of it, and so was Barbara Stanwyk, but Crawford's career reaches back to the silents.

Lucille Ball started out as a dramatic actress, and could chew scenery with the best. She has quite a list of credits before she found comedy.

Banksiaman 02-08-2017 09:34 PM

On a good day, with the wind behind him, Geoffrey Rush can make you forget that there is anyone else in the cast, let alone sharing a set / stage with him.

wolfman 02-08-2017 09:36 PM

Geoffrey Rush, especially in Pirates or Mystery Men for example, is great at it when he wants to be.

Jim's Son 02-08-2017 09:44 PM

Alan Rickman, the only reason to see Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood".

blondebear 02-08-2017 09:50 PM

First actor that comes to mind is George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

Dale Sams 02-08-2017 10:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blondebear (Post 19987451)
First actor that comes to mind is George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

Good God....Exorcist 3 has Scott*, Superpriest Nicol Williamson, Brad Dourif....and its amazing.

"I KNOWWWWW....PAIN!!! And I KNOWWWWW....FEAR!!!!"

bobkitty 02-09-2017 05:22 AM

Pretty much the last 20 years of Jeremy Irons's career.

kayaker 02-09-2017 06:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaharaTea (Post 19987210)
Al Pacino's performance in The Devil's Advocate is crazy over the top, and I love every second of it. I would say the same for Scarface. I guess one could argue that most of his work now is scenery-chewing, but those are my favorites.

I was going to say Scent of a Woman, for which Pacino got Best Actor.

Icarus 02-09-2017 07:16 AM

Streep

Streep

Streep

WordMan 02-09-2017 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Stainless Steel Rat (Post 19987080)
Reason I mention it is I just watched "Buckaroo Banzai", where John Lithgow, who has won more than a few awards for his undeniable acting ability, simply owns the movie with his way over-the-top portrayal of alien-possessed Dr. Emil Lizardo ("Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife; doomed is your soul and dammed is your life.")

"Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy!!"

I love this movie. Why? Because it's Perfect.

Otherwise, yeah, Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Alan Rickman just jumped off the screen.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-09-2017 07:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Stainless Steel Rat (Post 19987080)
In case anyone isn't familiar with the term, "Chewing the Scenery" is defined as: Displaying excessive emotion or acting in an exaggerated manner while performing; to be melodramatic; to be flamboyant.

I believe the German term for it is "Christoph Waltz".

Novelty Bobble 02-09-2017 07:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brown Eyed Girl (Post 19987338)
The original scenery chewer, Gloria Swanson, of course, in Sunset Boulevard.

Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.

Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment.

Gary Oldman in True Romance.

Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.

Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction.

Can't disagree with any but the last. Walken's appearance in Pulp Fiction is fairly gentle and low-key. Certainly it is mannered, but it is Walken.....that's always an element of any role he takes, but it isn't scenery-chewing I don't think. True Romance? far more so I'd suggest.

ftg 02-09-2017 07:59 AM

Joe Morton who plays Olivia's father on Scandal.

The first of his "daddy rants" sounds really good. Great performance. The second one makes you think "Didn't I just hear this exact same speech before?" The 50th one makes you scream "Enough! Stop giving the same rant over and over. We've heard it all before. Do it some other way for once."

lost4life 02-09-2017 08:28 AM

No love for Calculon?

quiltguy 02-09-2017 08:38 AM

Nancy Kelly and Eileen Heckart TAKE. THE. CAKE. for scenery chewing, all-time division, in "The Bad Seed." Kelly comes out ahead only because she had more screen time. :rolleyes:

Sir T-Cups 02-09-2017 08:38 AM

Sir Antony Hopkins in pretty much every scene of his in Westworld.

Also, James Spader as Ultron in "Age of"

Machine Elf 02-09-2017 08:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ftg (Post 19988006)
Joe Morton who plays Olivia's father on Scandal.

The first of his "daddy rants" sounds really good. Great performance. The second one makes you think "Didn't I just hear this exact same speech before?" The 50th one makes you scream "Enough! Stop giving the same rant over and over. We've heard it all before. Do it some other way for once."

Pretty much every character on that show takes turns delivering melodramatic rants like you describe. It's starting to get tiresome.

Catamount 02-09-2017 09:07 AM

Peter Ustinov in Quo Vadis. Even the camera lenses had bite marks in them after Nero's artist speech.

mbh 02-09-2017 09:53 AM

Nicol Williamson in Excalibur.

Laurence Olivier in Richard III.

Ian Mckellan in Richard III.

R Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-09-2017 10:29 AM

Jack Cassidy got nominated for a couple of Emmys before he got asked to play a COLUMBO villain over and over -- and, like I happened to mention not all that long ago, his scenery-chewing is actually the key to his alibi:

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper (Post 19889263)
The plot in a COLUMBO episode -- "Publish or Perish" -- had Jack Cassidy, the man with the most punchable face ever seen, establish his alibi by smashing his car into someone else's before getting locked up for drunkenness.

He hams it up like mad, since the point is for (a) the bartender to remember the irritating loudmouth who was boozing it up and for (b) it to be plausible that he was so drunk that, when asked where he was during the murder, apparently doesn't even recall smashing into that vehicle -- because the best alibi is one the insult-slinger clearly didn't set up, to the point where he honestly doesn't seem to realize he has it.

(Come to think of it, COLUMBO villains are probably a natural for this -- given how William Shatner and Nicol Williamson have come up, and Ricardo Montalban has been, uh, referenced indirectly. I mean, have you seen Patrick McGoohan when he's really going for it? He's not just chewing scenery; he's relishing it.)

Steophan 02-09-2017 10:31 AM

Nicolas Cage in every film he's ever been in.

Dendarii Dame 02-09-2017 10:32 AM

Rowan Atkinson in all the Blackadder series.

teela brown 02-09-2017 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Barkis is Willin' (Post 19987247)
Daniel Day Lewis in pretty much anything. Especially Gangs and TWWB. Love him in both of those, but man he's intense.

I just rewatched Gangs of New York yesterday, and afterwards read some trivia on IMDB. It said DDL stayed in character all the time he was filming the movie, even when going about his personal life. He went out to dinner with Scorcese and DiCaprio, and the character terrified the waitress, who wouldn't go near him.

bobkitty 02-09-2017 11:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mbh (Post 19988282)
R Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket.

Clearly you haven't spent much time around Marines. That's their default.

Gatopescado 02-09-2017 11:42 AM

Madeline Kahn!

burpo the wonder mutt 02-09-2017 11:47 AM

Jonathan Harris as Dr. Smith.

Jack Batty 02-09-2017 12:07 PM

Jim Carrey's career.

CalMeacham 02-09-2017 12:16 PM

Gerard Butler can actually be restrained (too much so in Phantom of the Opera, IMHO), but he's definitely over the top in scenery chewing in the wonderfully awful Gods of Egypt.

To be honest, the movie really calls for Overblown Special Effects and Overdone Acting. It'd be unwatchable otherwise.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-09-2017 12:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by teela brown (Post 19988521)
I just rewatched Gangs of New York yesterday, and afterwards read some trivia on IMDB. It said DDL stayed in character all the time he was filming the movie, even when going about his personal life. He went out to dinner with Scorcese and DiCaprio, and the character terrified the waitress, who wouldn't go near him.

He apparently stayed in character while filming My Left Foot, to the point of suffering broken ribs from being hunched over for that long -- you know, while getting fed in between takes, since he couldn't do it himself. And for The Crucible, he of course didn't shower during the making of the film -- because there was no indoor plumbing in the little 1600s-type house he (a) lived in during the production, after it was (b) built with his own two hands. Though he apparently got plenty of cold water thrown on him when he was living in a jail cell for In The Name Of The Father.

They say he got so into character as Hamlet that he saw his father's ghost.

Dendarii Dame 02-09-2017 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper (Post 19988690)

They say he got so into character as Hamlet that he saw his father's ghost.

Well, that's okay, but he'd better not thrust a sword through a curtain.

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-09-2017 01:01 PM

I'm just saying, we could really clean up this city if they'd just cast him as Batman.

QuickSilver 02-09-2017 01:41 PM

I thought Brad Pitt was scene stealing in Twelve Monkeys.

Jude Law is over the top in the current series of The Young Pope.

Celidin 02-09-2017 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bobkitty (Post 19987830)
Pretty much the last 20 years of Jeremy Irons's career.

in particular Jeremy Irons in the Dungeons and Dragons movie... so very over the top there, it was the best thing about it.


Going to put in Christopher Plummer in Star Trek VI... "Cry HAAAVOOC!!! And let slip! The Dogs! Of War!" and so on...

The Other Waldo Pepper 02-09-2017 01:53 PM

What strikes me as kind of interesting is, David Suchet would spend the majority of a typical POIROT episode doing the opposite of this: he's subtle and subdued, patient and polite -- a quiet sort of chap who chooses his words very carefully. Oh, sure, there's some warmth in his voice, or a wistful look in his eye, but so what?

Until the summation scene, at which point, holy crap: he's theatrical, all showy gestures and loud accusations shot though with emotion; he's triumphant to the point of sneering, he's actually kind of insulted that you thought this would fool him, he's glaring as if he's genuinely angry; the mask is off, and the man is center stage.

Robot Arm 02-09-2017 01:56 PM

Some great ones have already been mentioned. In fact, Lithgow in Buckaroo Banazi came to my mind just from seeing the title of the thread. He was also great in Third Rock From the Sun.

Eli Wallach is absolutely brilliant in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; he's not quite as manic as some of the others here, but he totally owns that movie. And I've seen him play very mild-mannered characters, including films from the same era. I almost can't believe it's the same guy.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was just on TV the other day, and there's some first-class chewing going on in that; Jonathan Winters, Phil Silvers, Dick Shawn, especially Ethel Merman are standouts. Buddy Hackett is admirably restrained.

Quote:

Originally Posted by blondebear (Post 19987451)
First actor that comes to mind is George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

I've read that it wasn't really his choice to play it that way. Kubrick had trouble getting Scott to play his role broadly enough. He apparently asked Scott to do a few takes with a very over-the-top performance to get the feel for it, but promised the actor that he wouldn't use them. Turned out he did put them in the film and Scott was rather angry about it. I don't like to see someone manipulated like that, but damn if they didn't make a masterpiece.


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