Vincent D'Onofrio - Is he a bad actor or just miscast in that Law and Order spin-off?

I have some really mixed feelings about that guy. I mean he sucks the air out of Law & Order: CI, and ruins any chance of it being even remotely watchable.

But on the other hand he’s been great in quite a few movies that i’ve seen with him, especially Full Metal Jacket, The Salton Sea, Happy Accidents, Ed Wood etc.

So does anyone care to shed some light on this?

He’s a really bad, overly-self-indulgent actor. His delivery, regardless of the character he’s playing, is always about as slow and flat as they come. Watch “Household Saints” for a prime example of his inimitable ability to suck the very life out of every scene he’s in. Hell, listen to his lines in “Full Metal Jacket” and hit mute during R. Lee Ermey’s lines. He was completely riding Ermey’s coattails there. The key line that gives it away is “I am…in a world…of pain!” There was not to be heard a more leaden, mechanical parsing of words and breaths with no feeling behind them whatsover, pain or otherwise, until Kiefer Sutherland in “Dark City”.

D’Onofrio gets by by being a good physical performer. In “Men in Black”, he hardly has any lines, but is fairly hysterical as a dead hick wrapped around a giant space cockroach. It’s my favorite role of his. But shut your eyes and listen to him actually speak, and it’s deathly torture. In CI, you can hear that same death rattle come out of his mouth, but he covers it up with fancy gestures. In the Full Metal Jacket scene, he’s directed not to move, in order that Kubrick can get his signature “tilted face lit from underneath” shot, so there’s nothing to hide his complete inability to convey any sort of convincing emotion whatsoever.

I disagree to some degree. I think he’s quite talented with the right material, but even more than most actors D’Onofrio is a creature of the script, and the L&O CI scripts have sucked for some time on all levels . I mean really, really sucked. Lazy writing basically put the main weight of carrying the show on his little “dysfunctional Sherlock” shtick and there’s only so far that’s going to take you if your dancing the same little “unbalanced genius detective + plot twist squeezes perp confession in last 5 minutes” Kabuki dance dance show after show after show.

It gets tiresome for both the actor and the audience. That’s part of the reason he wanted out of the show last year and they agreed to add additional actors after his “breakdown” tantrums. He’s not a bad actor, but he does need better writing and a stronger, more intelligent director who can use his gifts.

I agree with Astro.

And i stand by my opinion, that he was great in Full Metal Jacket.

He was pretty good Abby Hoffman in “Steal This Movie”, and I was ignorantly unaware that he was Private Pyle in “Jacket”, until I read this thread. But the TV series is a real turnoff. Between the schlocky music and the over-the-top acting, I can’t watch it.

I liked him as Orson Wells in Ed Wood. It was a small scene, but I thought it was the best one in the movie.

Law and Order is such a godawful show that I don’t think it’s fair to judge him on it. Every script has gotten as predictable as Scooby Doo.

I concede that the writing on CI is abysmal. Someday it will be revealed that while D’Onofrio is wheedling a confession out of the perp, Katherine Erbe’s characters is flashing a severed Medusa head at their lawyers, as SOMETHING is turning them to unresponsive stone during every such scene.

Still, since L&O:CI is not the first show to feature lazy writing, we must remember that a talented performer can rise above bad material and put it over.* If VD comes across well only when the writing and direction are good, then he clearly has little to contribute on his own. Anybody can look good delivering good lines.** D’Onofrio simply lacks the instincts to work with anything but the best material. And why should he get such stuff over more talented actors?

*In every history of the Brady Bunch, Sherwood Shwartz or one of his cronies posits that Robert Reed, who complained endlessly about the scripts, could play Hamlet, suck at it, and turn to booing audience to say:“Don’t blame me! I didn’t write this crap!”
*In one book I read, for example, an author praises Quentin Tarantino’s ability with a script by pointing out that, prior to “Pulp Fiction”, Travolta, Willis and Thurman were not considered at the time to be anyone’s idea of a “dream cast”.

Heh. But when it’s the same god damn thing week after week after week, i doubt that some other performer could do better with the given material. What surprises me though, that he’s sticked with the show as long as he has now.
After thinking about it, he was great in that one episode of Homicide, too.

Vincent D’Onofiro’s a good actor, IMO, but he’s better when he’s not the lead. He’s just too affected to create a believable lead character. He’s better at playing an eccentric secondary character.

That said I don’t really mind him on L&O. He’s playing a sort of high functioning autistic who’s reasoning out human interactions rather than authentically feeling them. His mannered, fussy style and play-acting nature fit his character. The problem is that the stories are repetitive–someone commits a series of murders because of some incredibly baroque neurosis which only Goren can understand–and his sidekick doesn’t do anything but stare at him adoringly.

That’s not entirely fair. As another poster pointed out, she does wield the Medusa Head on the suspect’s lawyers quite skillfully.

I think he should do all his roles in his Edgar suit.

I have to disagree with y’all. I think he’s a terrific actor and I love watching him as Goren. It’s kinda like watching Brando in some of his '50s roles. I find the character and the actor both mesmerizing.

Gotta agree with Mr. Rieux on this one. I love Vinny D. in most everything he’s been in, L&O:CI included. I like Larry Borgia’s analysis of his character, too – he does seem vaguely autistic.

I don’t blame D’Onofrio for that character. He’s an actor trying to make a living. It’s just an awfully written character.

The detective is always right, a sock puppet for the omniscient writer. That’s not good cop-show writing, although it might be okay for a polemic à la Mr. A. This is basic creative-writing stuff, people!

I hate the character he plays but don’t know much about him as an actor. Other than the fact he played Thor in “Adventures in Babysitting”.

I’ve always thought he was a terrific actor, and I think the way he usually underplays shows a solid grasp of the specific requirements of film acting. I just saw him in Thumbsucker on Friday; he was great as the emotionally distant father (a role for which he seems to have been born).

Then again, I’ve never seen “Law & Order” or any variant thereof; for all I know there may be no scenery left when he gets done chewing it up.

Hmmm,Not to hijack,but who is the weirder detective? Monk or Gorn(or whatever Vince’s character’s name is)?

D’Onofrio was born too late. He would have been a silent-movies superstar.

Well it can’t all be the writing. I’ve tried to watch Criminal Intent a few times, since Law & Order Classic is one of my favorite shows, but I’ve never been able to get through an entire episode – that is, until last week, when Chris Noth took over. Then all of a sudden it was an enjoyable show. In fact, so enjoyable that I’m taping it tonight just to see if D’Onofrio is really that bad. I may end up just watching it every other week for the Noth episodes.

Nobody has mentioned his best role ever.

He was Thor (well, actually, Dawson) in Adventures in Babysitting.