Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Character Turns 50

Yesterday’s post on prolific character actor Dan Hedaya marked my 50th In Character article on a specific actor. I’ve highlighted the casts of a few character actor-friendly films, and discussed which character actors in general deserve more work, but Hedaya makes the 50th actual person. And damn if that doesn’t have me elated.

I started In Character for one reason: to bring attention to the actors whose faces many recognize, but names go unknown. And I can honestly say that this column has brought me more joy than I could’ve ever imagined. First, I cannot fully explain the sincere thrill I get from having people tell me how much they like an actor I highlight. That’s what this column is all about. Before In Character, I had no idea people dug William Fichtner’s work in the otherwise forgettable Armageddon; no idea Cliff Curtis was such a household name in his native New Zealand; no idea people were affected by Margo Martindale’s work in Paris je t’aime as much as me. It’s been a real joy to discover all of this admiration.

So, in celebrating 50 posts, here are a few fun facts and lists specifically regarding this column. Thanks again to everyone for reading, commenting, and offering recommendations!

Cool Shit that Has Happened Because of In Character
It certainly isn’t my intention to come off as boastful, but I thought I’d share some cool things that have happened as a result of this column.

Meeting David Strathairn
I had the idea for In Character for several years before actually starting it. The tipping point was meeting David Strathairn in a bar Richmond, Virginia. I approached him, told him I was fond of his work, he thanked me and told me about this Lincoln movie he was filming with Spielberg. We chatted for a few more minutes, and then both went on with our day. A damn nice guy, David Strathairn.

Elias Koteas’ Tweet
Shortly after publishing my second In Character post, I tweeted about the article and sang my praises for Elias Koteas’ flawless performance in The Thin Red Line. Moments later, I received this reply:

I spent the next several minutes trying to determine if it was a legit account. It was, and my week was made.

Heath Ledger Family Comment
About a month after I published my special edition In Character post on Heath Ledger, I received an anonymous comment from someone claiming to be in Ledger’s family. Although their comment was very gracious, I wasn’t exactly buying it. The commenter must have picked up on my hesitant reply, because a few days later, I received an email from that person, in which they continued their support of my article and made it very clear that they were indeed closely related to the great Mr. Ledger.

Praise from a Hollywood Publicist
I recently received a very kind email from a Hollywood publicist, thanking me for my kind words in regards to a few of her clients. Apparently, I’ve covered four actors she currently represents. How cool is that? I asked her about the potential of some extended interviews with those actors, and she said to “get back to me after the Oscars.” That’s hot shit, man. Real hot shit. I’ll hopefully have the interviews posted soon!

The Following
And, of course, perhaps the coolest thing that has happened as a result of this column is the continued support I receive from my fellow bloggers. This support – in the comments for every post, on Twitter, in the emails encouraging future subjects – is something I never anticipated. So thank you. Thank you for taking part of your week to stop by and read what I have to say about these deserving thespians. (And this is with sincere respect to everyone who has lent their support to In Character, but I must offer specific thanks to Anna from Defiant Success, who has commented on nearly every one of my In Character posts, offered her respect for the actors, her praise to my writing, and plenty of great recommendations as well. It’s meant the world to me, Anna.)

Top 10 In Character Actors
I’m purposefully choosing more “obscure” actors here, but these are my favorite actors I have covered so far in this column.
Bruce Greenwood – Best Role: The Sweet Hereafter
Elias Koteas – Best Role: The Thin Red Line
Margo Martindale – Best Role: Paris je t’aime
David Morse – Best Role: Dancer in the Dark
Emily Mortimer – Best Role: Lovely and Amazing
Jason Patric – Best Role: Your Friends and Neighbors
Campbell Scott – Best Role: Roger Dodger
Shea Whigham – Best Role: Tigerland
Ray Winstone – Best Role: Sexy Beast
Jeffrey Wright – Best Role: Shaft

Top 10 In Character Performances
10. Don CheadleManic
9. Laura DernInland Empire
8. Gary OldmanThe Contender
7. Guy PearceMemento
6. Philip Seymour HoffmanBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead
5. Jason PatricYour Friends and Neighbors
4. Campbell ScottRoger Dodger
3. Margo MartindaleParis je t’aime
2. Ralph FinnesSchindler’s List
1. Elias KoteasThe Thin Red Line

The Best (of the Best) In Character Movie
Plenty of films have popped up twice in these posts, a handful have appeared three separate times, but Boogie Nights easily takes the cake here. Making no less than six distinct appearances in this column, Boogie Nights is the movie that has been featured the most on In Character. THAT’s how you cast a movie.

Thanks again everyone, I’m so glad you dig these posts, and, as always, I welcome your character actor recommendations!


  1. Boogie Nights !! No Kidding, It's a school of Acting.

    As per your column, I am really not surprised that so many amazing things have happened because of this. It is just that good, plain and simple and you deserve every bit of credit for that.

    Keep them coming Alex !!

    1. Wow man, thanks so much for those kind words! It's been a blast keeping this column going. So glad you enjoy the posts!

  2. BOOGIE NIGHTS! That film is too awesome to exist- yet another reason why.

    I love your In Character things. They are brilliant and educative and just keep 'em coming, man.

    Congratuwelldone :D

    1. I love that you call these things "things." It's too cute.

      Thanks so much for reading, Nikhat!

  3. Wow... a tweet from Elias Koteas and meeting David Strathairn... awesome. I await when you reach 100. I'll probably approach 50 w/ my Auteurs series in a few years though 25 will come later this year.

    1. I LOVE your Auteurs series. You really go all in with those. Here's to more posts from us both!

  4. Awesome! Congrats! I sometimes wished I got some replies from actors or directors but so far no luck.

    To the next 50!

    1. Thanks so much! Believe me, that tweet was insane. Insane. Never expected anything like that. Oh the wonderful world of Twitter.

  5. Oh, you're a sweetheart, Alex. You really are. And I am not lying when I say your lists give me new recommendations. (And it happens quite often too.)

    1. Thanks! Your graciousness to this column has motivated me to keep it going. Seriously. I'm so glad you like the posts and that they give you movie recommendations!

  6. Oh, wow, 50! That is enormous number considering how much work you put in each addition to the series. I'm glad it brought you so many awesome things, very well deserved!

    1. Thanks Sati! It's been a lot of fun writing these up. Really appreciate your support for the column!

  7. Man, congrats on all of the great things that've come from this series! I love seeing what performers/performances you choose to highlight, as many of them are blind spots that I need to explore. There's always something to watch, and the In Character series just keeps adding new titles to my watchlist. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Josh! I'm really glad you dig the series and it gives you some movie ideas. It's great to hear that!

  8. A brilliant series that continues to entertain and enthral. You have turned me on to so many great actors and films through this series, and it is so fantastic that you've received acknowledgement from actors, agents and others for the great service you do them in bringing these wonderful talents to our attention and fixation.

    1. Damn man, thank you. Seriously.

      I've always appreciated your kind words toward this column, so thankful for your support.

  9. That is so cool. "In Character" is one of my favorite series from any blog, period, and I'm so glad that others are recognizing this great work. Keep it up, man! Hope you are able to snag some of those interviews.

    1. Wow Eric, thanks so much for that. Really kind of you!

      I'm so glad you dig this series, and I really hope I can pin down some of the interviews as well!