For the sake of convenience, I will use the term “actor” to mean both an actor and actress.
Acting is, I suppose, a strange profession. To be a good actor, you need to be able to take on a character, and become that person. You need to be able to portray the character’s idiosyncrasies as realistically as possible. You need to be able to be able to come across, both emotionally and physically, as natural as possible.
In my mind, a great actor is one who can make me believe that I’m not watching the portrayal of a role, but instead that I’m watching the actual character in real life, as it exists in the movie. A great actor should not give you cause to stop and think about the way the part is played, but should allow you to totally suspend your belief and be sucked into their world, as if you were really there, observing them.
For my money, I think Robert De Niro is the greatest actor I have seen. He has the ability to take a character and become that person. He takes a role and really gives it depth. He can portray huge emotional range, using tricks like facial expressions, tone of voice, even a tilt of the head. He has a huge repertoire of movies to his credit (93 and counting), and while there are, of course, some roles he was perhaps miscast for (Bullwinkle, anyone?), the majority have benefited hugely from his presence in my opinion.
Some examples of the movies that I think he was outstanding in:
- Taxi Driver
- Raging Bull
There are many other actors whom I admire, but if I had to pick only one then Robert De Niro would be the one.
The worst actor that I have had the misfortune to watch would have to be Keanu Reeves. There was a thread here a while ago about wooden acting, and let’s just say his name came up more than once. He is only able to portray two emotions: serious or confused. His voice sounds forced. His whole screen presence is flimsy, to say the least.
The only possible movie that I think he was OK in was The Matrix. The reason for this is that the role was well suited to wooden acting by it’s nature. Just my opinion, of course, as I’m sure there are plenty of Keanu fans out there!
So, what do you think are the qualities that make a great actor? Who do you think is the best actor/actress? The worst?