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The Top 50 Actors Countdown - You Casted Your Votes

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Ever since then I've always been excited to hear Hamill voice acting in anything. He's such a joy. One of my favorite roles for him was in Batman: The Brave & The Bold, a show which normally does not feature Hamill. In the episode "Chill of the Night" (written by BTAS mastermind Paul Dini), the ethereal Spectre and Phantom Stranger gamble over Batman's soul, determining whether he will embody a spirit of justice or of vengeance. Stranger, voiced by Batman alum Kevin Conroy, represents justice, while Spectre, voiced by Hamill, represents vengeance. I love meta stuff like this.
It's one of the show's best episodes and surprisingly dark for what is intentionally the goofier Batman series. A great retelling the classic Joe Chill story.
 
Kinda surprised hamill is this low. I didn't vote for him because i have really no strong memories of any star wars performance of his except last jedi and i've never watched any of the batman animated, but he does have charisma and touches on a lot of this board's interests i feel.

also didn't vote bridges, but i do love the guy. just never really popped into mind, and i guess i haven't many memories of his performances either.

still only at 2 of my picks iirc. there are a dozen or so that i figured wouldn't make it, but i think there are going to be some surprise misses for me. I really only expect about 3-4 more of my picks to show up anymore, and maybe only 2 of those i have real confidence about. not sure what to expect. exciting!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
13. Judi Dench
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AS

Old Lady
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81 Points, 3 Lists, #3 Kirin
Iconic Roles: M (James Bond franchise), Barbara Covett (Notes on a Scandal), Queen Victoria (Mrs. Brown), all the queens and Shakespeares.

Judi Dench had the theatre in her life in her young age as her father, a physian, was the general practitioner for the York Theatre Royal and her mother worked as a wardrobe mistress and actors often stayed in the family household. She even appeared in some mystery plays in the theatre on a non-professional basis in her late teens/early twenties. Eventually inspired to study acting, she studied with other legend Vanessa Redgrave and soon became a Shakespearian actress in major roles, including as Juliet in a Franco Zeffirelli production of Romeo and Juliet. She began her screen appearances in a TV adaptation of Parade’s End and an episode of the police series Z-Cars and a small role in the film a Study in Terror (a Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack the Ripper film, which can’t be as good as it sounds). Dench rose to prominence in the film Four in the Morning and the mini-series Talking to a Stranger as well as the West End production of Cabaret as Sally. Dench became a popular actress in stage and screen and in 1995 gained a big role, becoming the new M in the James Bond franchise. In 1997, she earned her first starring role as Queen Victoria in the film Mrs. Brown, which also earned her first Oscar nomination. She would win the Oscar a year later for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare Love. Dench would be nominated multiple times for her dramatic roles including the films Notes on a Scandal and Philomena. Most recently, she garnered a nomination for the role of Granny in Belfast.



I’ll fully admit I’m completely unaware of early Dench films and am much more familiar with her as a grande dame character where her talent and status are unimpeachable. And this is a very much the kind of characters she often plays, characters who are often intelligent, powerful and having a regal air and have played more than her fair share of royalty and nobles. But I think that might ignore that she can also play smaller roles, such as the teacher in Notes on a Scandal who uses her knowledge of a crime to keep someone under her thumb and in Philomena as Philomena Lee, an older woman dedicated to finding the child taken away from her at a young age. I think Dench belongs in that camp of British actors who do such great big characters that it’s easy to forget how well they work in more intimate ways.

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Hopefully she’ll bring some of her famous fish and chips to the set.
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Simpsons or Star Trek?: No but that’s a good Simpsons reference to her up there and I wish it was a real franchise. It’s not too late, Judi!

ACTING!
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
I'm really shocked she hasn't been on the The Simpsons!

She's so great, but especially when her characters are annoyed. Just this absolutely cutting glare and delivery.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Instead of Star Trek what about Star Wars? Judi is only one letter away from Jedi.

And let me go back a few entries to talk about Frank Welker. He voiced was in so many things that were part of my childhood and after that so many other things that appealed to the child in me.
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
12. Carrie Fisher
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AS
Nappa
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82 Points, 3 Lists, #5 Kirin
Iconic Roles: Princess Leia (Star Wars), Marie (When Harry Met Sally…), April (Hannah and Her Sisters), Two Nuns (Two Unrelated Things)

Carrie Fisher dropped out of high school for acting and again dropping out of acting school. All the same, she was able to find success, appearing in the comedy film Shampoo as a seductive teen. It was three years later where she would land a major role in Star Wars, a film that blew up in a way few of the people involved expected. This work would overshadow her other work and she would largely appear in comedies such as the Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally… and the ‘Burbs. In 1983, she also played the title role in a Broadway production of Agnes of God. In the 1987, she also published her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge which would later be adapted into a film. In fact, though much of the 90s, she would work as a script doctor, tightening the scripts for Hook, Sister Act, the Wedding Singer and the Star Wars prequels. Most of her roles became smaller, with her own recurring being as Peter’s boss on Family Guy, until 2007 when she released her one woman play Wishful Drinking, to great success. In 2015, she returned to her role of Leia Organa for the first time in 32 years, now as General Organa, in some of her last film work. In 2016, Fisher died of cardiac arrest while on a flight, returning home following a recording of the British panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats. She had some posthumous work released including her final Star Wars role in the Last Jedi (which she also script doctored), released one final memoir, the Princess Diarist, and has one final yet to be released movie, the fairy tale film Wonderwell.



Fisher was definitely much beloved but I feel like she often hasn’t been properly utilized. Now, I think outside of Star Wars, she seems to primarily have been a comedic actress, where she completely works. But I simply think that there were simply a lot of roles she should have been considered for. Interestingly, Star Wars is a great argument for her as a comedic lead, a sort of person who reacts to the insanity around them with frustration but also not letting it overwhelm her, sort of in the Bob Newhart role except more assertive. Heck, I think she’s a type who would have killed in an action comedy if she was allowed to be the center. If acting is reacting, as Leia, she reacts immediately and without feet of clay, immediately turning the kidnapped princess on its ear not only when she joins the fight immediately but starts giving some much-needed orders to the ragtag crew of rescuers. It will always be her most famous role but I do appreciate that in the new millennium, we sort of realized what an all around awesome person she seemed to be and we could have used more of her.

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I’ll never forgive her for STEALING my idea for a ONE MAN show. It was ME, TALKING TO THE AUDIENCE… about my career. I was going to DO THAT FIRST! NO ONE ELSE HAD THIS IDEA.



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Wait, what would the prequels have looked like with no one cleaning up the script?

Simpsons or Star Trek?: Nope.

ACTING!
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’ll always remember Carrie Fischers non-Star Role career best as being Tom Hanks’ wife from The Burbs.

Or maybe 30 Rock; she was in a good episode of that
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Carrier Fisher is also worth noting for speaking out about mental health, misogyny and addiction/recovery. Her interviews are so raw and sharp and amazing.

Her upbringing was already deep in Hollywood. She's the daughter of Debbie Reynolds who was one of the most favourite actresses in the world at the time and so her family was hounded a lot. When she was young her father left the family to have an affair with Elizabeth Taylor and she's noted how much the public would ask about it and how upsetting it was.

But, as with all trauma in her life, she also made it part of her one-woman show, this is one of my favourite darkly funny lines:

“He rushed to her side, gradually moving to her front. He consoled her with flowers and, ultimately, he consoled her with his penis.”

The affair with Harrison Ford, objectification of women and her body issues have been written up a lot, but while trying to find a couple of her quotes on that I found this one from this interview which I hadn't seen before and very much like:

What, that my character was forced to put on that outfit against my will, and I took it off as soon as I could kill the guy who picked out the outfit? I had so much fun killing [Jabba]. They asked me if I wanted my stunt double to kill him, but I wanted to. I sawed his neck off with that chain. I really wanted to kill him.”

Drug addiction and mental health were a huge issues for her from a young age, and she is often noted for being one of the first female actresses to be open about it. Her writings about bipolar disorder and electroshock therapy are so fucking funny and awful at the same time. When a friend of mine needed to have ECT done but was scared as there's been so much misrepresentation of it in the media I included a recommendation of reading up on Carrie's experiences, as she's realistic about it but positive.

But for Fisher, ECT was quite effective, and ultimately worth it: “Some of my memories will never return. They are lost – along with the crippling feeling of defeat and hopelessness. Not a tremendous price to pay.”

She was #12 on my list, because ultimately I don't think of her "acting" first anymore. It's her writing and her advocacy. But I easily could have made a version of the list where she was #1.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Both Dame Judi and Carrie were on my mind from the older women list. It's true that Carrie's acting filmography doesn't have the depth of most on this list, but she got major bonus points both for her script work and just being a generally amazing person. I'm still sad that I won't get to enjoy seeing her pop up anywhere else in the future.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
11. Tim Curry
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AS
Sgt. Pepper
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85 Points, 4 Lists, #1 Yorin Trouble
Iconic Roles: Dr. Frank N Furter (The Rocky Horror Show), Pennywise (It), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Amadeus), Ham (all the things)

Tim Curry’s first major role was in the London production of Hair, where he met Richard O’Brien, a playwright working on his own special musical, a love letter to vintage horror and science fiction movies, the Rocky Horror Show. Tim would play the lead in that show, mad scientist Dr. Frank N Furter, which would make him an icon (helped by him reprising the role on film two years later). In 1979, he was the star of Will Shakespeare, a television drama of the life of same. Curry would later star as dadaist Tristan Tzara in the Tom Stoppard play Travesties and the title role in Amadeus (working opposite Ian McKellen). In 1985, he starred as Darkness in the fantasy film Legend and butler Wadsworth in the mystery comedy Clue. Curry would go onto become a sought after character actor, appearing in stage and screen and even became a prolific voice actor. While he is often playing villains, his most noted animated role was as Nigel Thornberry, the good natured father of a family of nature documentarians. He is also a prolific reader of audio books ranging from books in the Dune series to A Christmas Carol to all of the books in the Series of Unfortunate Events to… Despicable Me: The Junior Novel. Curry has been wheelchair bound following a stroke in 2012 but continues to do voice acting.


Acting can be hard work that can put on a lot of mental strain. But I don’t know if I can think of an actor having more fun just… acting. There’s no shame in being a ham and Curry seems to relish acting with every fiber of his being. And he does good work. Like, he can still do hypnotic, brilliant little things in his broad roles, such as in the scene above when he even before biting the boy, he seems to be hitting the pleasure center of his brain simply by telling the child a lie about floating balloons. He has so much charisma and he’s one of those actors who will be in seemingly anything, regardless of quality. But it never feels like it’s just a paycheck, it feels like he is there to have or create as much fun as he can for himself and the audience. And if that’s not true, then it’s a testament to what he brings to his performances. I only wish I could have seen him on stage doing Amadeus with Ian McKellen. That must have been fabulous.

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I THINK THIS MAN LACKS SUBTLETYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Simpsons or Star Trek?: Shockingly no.

ACTING!
 

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
(He)
I knew he was wheelchair bound after a stroke, but I didn't realize he had continued to do voice work. That's great to hear, because I was under the impression that he was basically paralyzed and couldn't work anymore.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Carrie was my first celebrity crush, and I'm sure there were many a young lad (or lass, etc.) who had the same experience. Surprisingly, one of her best moments - the strangling of Jabba - was missing from the TV cut of Jedi I watched over and over in childhood. I didn't see it first until we bought the digitally remastered box set on VHS just before the special editions started hitting theaters.

I was always on the lookout for my beloved Star Wars crew to show up in other media, and it seemed like Carrie would appear in the strangest places. I think my favorite supporting role for her is in Blues Brothers, where she pops up several times with the sole purpose of blowing something up with increasingly absurd ordnance.

I came to learn later on about her problems with addiction and mental illness and respected her for her advocacy in those regards. We lost her far too soon. I miss her tweets, where she expressed her thoughts almost entirely in strings of emoji. I miss her sharp wit. And I think Rise of Skywalker was destined to be a trainwreck anyway, but I still wonder how different it could have been if she'd made it through its filming.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
How did we do an entire entry on Judi Dench and none of us mentioned Cats.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
10. Sigourney Weaver
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AS
WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
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93 Points, 4 Lists, #2 Dracula
Iconic Roles: Ellen Ripley (Alien films), Dana Barrett (Ghostbusters), Gwen DeMarco (Galaxy Quest), Someone (Avatar. I mean, I’m pretty sure she was in there somewhere. Look, this movie did not stick that strongly in my mind)

Susan Alexandria Weaver took to the theatre at a young age, changing her stage name to Sigourney from a character in the Great Gatsby. While attending Yale, she was in the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s comedy musical The Frogs and appeared in other notable stage productions. After a small appearance in the film Annie Hall, Sigourney earned her first starring film role in the science fiction horror classic Alien as Ellen Ripley. She would return to the role several times and her first return would earn her an Oscar nomination. She would appear opposite Mel Gibson in the drama The Year of Living Dangerously and would then appear in another iconic role: as haunted every woman Dana Barrett in the adventure comedy Ghostbusters (a role she would also return to). 1988 was a seminal year for her as she starred in two films, Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl, where she would earn two more Oscar noms for actress and supporting actress, respectively. Other notable films would include Dave, Death and the Maiden, Copycat and the Ice Storm, the last of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. In 1999, she leveraged and lampooned her own connection to the sci-fi genre in the cult hit Galaxy Quest, playing an actress of a sci-fi TV show who is whisked away with her cast to save an alien race. Weaver would be a consistent fixture in film, often in genre pictures and not infrequently in cameos utilizing her icon status. More recently, she played a big role in the film Avatar, which she will reprise in two more yet-to-be-released sequels.


I don’t know if I can think of an actress who projects strength as well as Weaver. I mean, there’s not a shortage but I feel that there are a lot of great actresses hindered by material that doesn’t treat their characters great. But Ghostbusters, a movie I love, risks that with Dana Barrett and Weaver doesn’t let that happen. I don’t think the character is “bad” on the page but I think what’s there could have lend itself easily to a more generic love interest/victim but Weaver is the only character who doesn’t seem to have Bill Murray running rings around him (I will say, there’s not no chemistry there but on my last viewing, it’s less romantic to me and more two different characters bouncing off of each other). And both as a alluring demon and an every woman tormented by monsters, there’s an aura of earned confidence that isn’t arrogance, it’s merely fact. Ellen Ripley is also a rightly lauded character; she’s a smart, reasonable person who tries to stay firm even when being undermined by foolish opportunists or panicky men. Her attitude never seems like a put on by the character and her vulnerability is rarely weakness.

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I was wish I was there for the chestburster scene. I’m sure no one else would have an appetite or think to baggie the food for later.

Simpsons or Star Trek?: No but she was in Futurama and Galaxy Quest so there’s definitely an adjacent touch.

ACTING!
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
I own this pin and have it on my lab coat, and constantly get compliments from other female scientists about how much they loved that character. She's just awesome.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I did vote Weaver so highly mostly because of Ripley and Dana, but I get excited to see her on screen in anything. One of my favorite minor roles for her, for example, was in Cabin in the Woods, a movie I wish I could see for the first time again.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Wish I'd remembered Tim Curry, he almost certainly would've made my list. Such a joy to watch.
I did remember Sigourney Weaver at least!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
9. Frances McDormand
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AS
Princess Tomato
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101 Points, 4 Lists, #5 Johnny Unusual
Iconic Roles: Marge Gunderson (Fargo), Mildred Hayes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Abby (Blood Simple), Charlotte Mearing (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where she transforms into someone willing to do this for a paycheck)

I don’t have a lot of information on how Frances McDormand got into acting but I know that her first acting role was in a production of In a Fine Castle in Trinidad. In 1984, she got her first starring role in the Coen Brothers thriller Blood Simple, directed by her husband Joel and her brother in law Ethan. This would be the first of many artistic collaborations with the Coens and soon enough she was playing a smaller role in their comedy Raising Arizona. In 1988 she was nominated for a Tony for her role in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire and the next year earned an Oscar nom for Missippi Burning. In her second collaboration with Sam Raimi (her first being the little-seen Crimewave), she played Liam Neeson’s love interest in the superhero thriller Darkman. She earned further kudos for the film Hidden Agenda and Short Cuts but in 1996, she earned a major breakout role as the lead of the darkly comic thriller Fargo, playing police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo. The film earned her an Oscar, her first, and she would go onto gain more acclaim for her roles in Almost Famous, Laurel Canyon and the Man Who Wasn’t There. She would also become a frequent collaborator of Wes Anderson, appearing in Moonrise Kingdom, Isle of Dogs and most recently the French Dispatch. McDormand would win two more Oscars for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Nomadland. She is set to star in the film adaptation of Women Talking, about Mennonite women holding a secret meeting about being repeated violated by demons for their sins.



Man, in this description, I feel like this might be the MOST I’ve had to leave amazing roles out of the first paragraph. And while she is high on my list, reading what she’s done, I am filled with regret over the stuff I’ve yet to see. I’m not sure how to articulate what she brings except that she can be very human and still, when needed, completely kill it when being outlandishly cartoonish. Yes, she’s exaggerated as Marge Gunderson (a great role where she is clever about catching lies but also a sweet, honest soul), but recently, I think about her wonderful work in Burn After Reading, a film that takes John La Carre’s motif of “dress it up as cool as you want, spy stuff tends to come down to pettiness and human flaws” to the next level, where she plays an insecure woman who proves herself to be increasingly and distressingly amoral. I truly get caught up with her roles and even when there is little empathy, I feel there’s something to invest or fascinate you.

Burn After Reading is so good, guys.
Go watch Fargo. Then go watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I have never seen her play another role outside of Fargo. Have you seen Fargo, though? She's very good in it. You should see Fargo.


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I am still UPSET she beat me for the role of THE HANDLER in Aeon Flux. Though I didn’t help myself being prepared to play Chelsea Handler.

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Johnny Unusual thought he could make my bit work but he spends most of the time reaching and this is a cry for help. Says me, Carl Weathers.

Simpsons or Star Trek?: McDormand appeared in the Simpsons episode Girls Just Want to Have Sums, an ill-conceived episodes, unfortunately. But on the plus side… 27!



ACTING!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
8. Arnold Schwarzenegger
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AS
City Guard
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103 Points, 4 Lists, #4 Olli
Iconic Roles: The Terminator (The Terminator), Conan (Conan the Barbarian), John Matrix (Commando), The One Arm (Predator)

Growing up in an abusive household (which he says was almost uniform in his home community), Arnold Schwarzenegger grew up on the films of big screen muscle men Reg Park, Steve Reeves and Johnny Weissmuller. Arnold dedicated himself to bodybuilding, coming in second in a Mr. Universe competition and even becoming trained by Reg Park. Even then he had his eyes on film stardom, claiming to his English coach that he’d be the greatest actor. In 1970, he was the lead in Hercules in New York but his first film became a flop and Arnold “Strong” was dubbed. His other films and TV appearances did not make much impact, as Schwarzenegger’s name, accent and “weird body” became an impediment. It wasn’t until his appearance in the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron that more attention came to Arnold. Arnold had roles in comedies The Villain and Scavenger Hunt only to gain his first major role as literary fantasy hero Conan the Barbarian. The film was a hit and Arnold quickly set the standard for 80s action stars: strong, powerful and hard to ignore. He continued the trend as the title villain in the sci-fi action thriller the Terminator and starred in an archetypical action roles for Arnold Commando and Predator. It didn’t take long for Arnold’s image to have a self-parody quality, so much so that his films often had a campy quality, as in The Running Man. He eventually did true comedies in Twins, playing the genetically superior twin brother to Danny DeVito and Kindergarten Cop. Schwarzenegger worked consistently in film until 2003, when he entered politics and became the governor of California. Since then, many of his films leveraged his legacy, returning to the Terminator role and appearing in the homage to 80s action films The Expendables. A rare venture into more restrained genre-fare with Maggie where he gained good notices from critics, as well as some more oddball roles, such as in the low budget comedy Killing Gunther and the surprisingly cast Russian-Chinese co-production Viy 2: Journey to China. More recently, he starred in the children’s series Superhero Kindergarten and will star as the President in… Kung Fury 2? Oh, yeah, I forgot that was happening.



So, I bet this is a bit of a surprise to some. After all, Arnold is undoubtedly an icon but he is rarely known for his acting prowess. But the man has presence. It would be easy to say “yeah, because he’s flippin’ huge” but I think it’s more than that. Professional body builders can’t JUST be big, they need to be presentational and Arnold, even when he’s not giving the best performance, usually knows how to be a real spectacle, one that is engaging to watch. I don’t think he would have never become the superstar we know today if he didn’t know how to make himself get noticed (great directors can only help so much). There’s a sense of fun around this guy and I understand though even he did some great mainly non-verbal acting in the role as the Terminator (it’s not like he’s doing something transformative but he did sell his roboticness), why he ended gravitating to films that also had fun with his image. I never would have put him into the political field if I could help it but it is fun to see him in film.

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Simpsons or Star Trek?: Nope. But in the Simpsons Movie, Arnold is a character played by Harry Shearer and is also now the president.

ACTING!
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Ive said in the past that Frances McDormands role as Liam Nelson’s wife in Darkman is like watching your mom fall in love with your weird uncle.

Arnold is one of the few actors where, for one thing, everyone Knows who you’re talking about if you just say his first name, and also he became a genre unto himself. A Meryl Streep or Harrison Ford movie could be anything. A Schwarzenegger movie can only be one thing.
 
there is little better than arnold acting like an everyman. him in total recall or the 6th day is an absolute joy.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I was lucky enough (?) to meet him multiple times when he was Governor and I was working in the Capitol building in Sacramento. I never agreed with much of his politics (though they'd be more welcome today on the right than what we currently have) but the man could work a room and make you feel like you were the most important thing to him while he was talking to you. The fact that he extended that effort to even interns, like myself, always struck me.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
On the subject of McDormand appearing in Transformers, Michael Bay seems to be a big fan of the Coen Brothers' stable of actors. Nearly every actor known for their roles in Coen Brothers movies have appeared in a Transformers movie. (In particular John Turturro, who I believe is the only human character to appear in four out of five of the Bay-directed live action movies.)

I've always liked Arnold's movies and the fact that his face, appearance, and characters became so imitated in the other media of the era just reinforces that. It's hard for me to pick a favorite role of his, but I often find myself returning to Commando and the first two Terminator films.

I was lucky enough (?) to meet him multiple times when he was Governor and I was working in the Capitol building in Sacramento. I never agreed with much of his politics (though they'd be more welcome today on the right than what we currently have) but the man could work a room and make you feel like you were the most important thing to him while he was talking to you. The fact that he extended that effort to even interns, like myself, always struck me.

This is very heartening to hear.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
7. Bill Murray
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AS
Mr. Corn
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109 Points, 4 Lists, #5 Yorin Trouble
Iconic Roles: Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters), Carl Spuckler (Caddyshack), Tripper Harrison (Meatballs), Lorenzo Music (Garfield)

Bill Murray grew up with 8 siblings. Three of them would become actors and Bill’s brother Brian invited him to join The Second City in Chicago, studying closely under improv legend and coach Del Close. In 1974, he moved to New York and was recruited by John Belushi to join the National Lampoon Radio Hour. The next year he joined Saturday Night Live… with Howard Cosell. Then after that ended, he joined a far more popular sketch comedy television series called Saturday Night Live in it’s second season, replacing Chevy Chase, and became one of the more popular players. In 1979, he had his first starring role in the summer camp comedy Meatballs (his first work with Ivan Reitman), which was a success and after a Hunter S. Thompson movie failed, he starred in a string of hit comedies from writer/director Harold Ramis; Caddyshack, Stripes and Tootsie. Bill Murray’s next project was to be an adaptation of the novel The Razor’s Edge but to get funding he had to agree to be in a Columbia movie called Ghostbusters. Though The Razor’s Edge, which Murray co-wrote and was his first dramatic role was met with a tepid reception, Ghostbusters rocketed Murray from comedy icon to superstar. Ironically, Murray was so frustrated by the failure of Razor’s Edge, this is when he took a four year break from acting (outside of a small role in Little Shop of Horrors) to study philosophy, only to return in Scrooged. Murray also did directing with the dark crime comedy Quick Change, which was gained a cult following, and also starred in the broad comedy What About Bob? But in 1993, Murray’s return to work with Harold Ramis, the seminal fantasy Groundhog Day, was a huge critical success for both men. In 1998, he co-starred in the coming of age comedy Rushmore, which became the first in a long line of collaborations with Wes Anderson. Murray soon began taking more dramatic parts, often still using elements of his comedy persona, and hit big with the Sophia Coppola movie Lost in Translation where he plays a weary actor feeling alone in Tokyo and meeting a young woman who feels similarly. This would blaze a trail for Murray appearing in more mature roles as in Broken Flowers and Get Low. Most recently he appeared in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and is set to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania.



I feel like Bill Murray was the first comedic voice I really understood. There are some performers who feel like they are on a higher plane, not simply due to talent but attitude, a sense that he is almost beyond all things. Ironically, his persona in the past two decades have run counter to that, very much humanizing a character whom we love being larger than life. In Ghostbusters, there’s pretty much nothing he says that makes him take even the end of all things seriously and somehow it works entirely while in Lost in Translation, he gets to embody loneliness in a foreign land, a sense that he’s lost from all he cares for and is just tired. I feel like it’s a similar creative journey to Steve Martin, whom I am also a big fan of but I feel like Murray (with no slight to the brilliance of Martin), is a more electric performer to me. I feel like the journey happened gradually, with Murray in Scrooged and Groundhog Day being a bit of a de-escalation (despite still being pretty big), perhaps inspired by his hunger for drama. And it was the older Murray who cracked it, using the weight of his years to bring a sense of beautiful melancholy to his cocky clown.
Yes, his characters in Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day are often not well thought of these days for their treatment of women, but that's hardly his fault, and, while those are certainly two of his most iconic roles (and both loomed large in my childhood), he went on to play some amazing roles later in his career, like the excellent Lost in Translation and The Life Aquatic (and, it must be said, he makes for a pretty good Garfield). Honestly, though, I'll always think of him most fondly for What About Bob?, a pretty easily forgotten film that, for whatever reason, I adored as a child.



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I’ve never worked with the man. I was usually busy GETTING HIGH OUT OF MY MIND… with Nick the Lounge Singer.

Simpsons or Star Trek?: Nope. Nor has Brian-Doyle Murray for that matter.

ACTING!
 
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