InPraiseOf introduces a new editorial series, “Man-Acting Greats,” featuring the best in the art of Man-Acting in movies and television. In this post, we help define the art of Man-Acting.
“You better be real careful how you navigate around this one.” -Clay
“Or what, you’ll put a bullet in the back of my head too?” Jax
A select group of men are privileged enough in this life to act for a living. Of these, an even more elite few have the talent to Man-Act.
These are blessed members of the Y chromosome, able to tap a breadth of emotion few of their endowed species are even able to imagine.
Al Pacino was at one point the king of Man-Acting. Robert De Niro, though, never achieved Man-Acting status. Everyone reminisces about John Travolta’s turn in Pulp Fiction, but it was Samuel L. Jackson’s Man-Acting that defined a generation. A dozen twists and turns can enliven a full season of ‘Lost’, but a smooth, cold ‘bullet in the back of my head’ from Sons of Anarchy Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) to Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) can send shivers down the most stoic man’s spine. And a simple “I love Brian Piccolo,” Man-Acted with strength and pain by Billy Dee Williams, can break the toughest hombre.
Can your favorite actor eat a burger while simultaneously scaring the shit out of a preppy, in-over-his-head drug dealer? Can he shed a single tear over the birth of his infant son one moment, and fire an AK-47 into his enemy’s skull in the very next scene? Can he spit dialog through gritted teeth? Does machismo roll off every beaded-eye glance, flexed forearm and furrowed brow?
This is the essence of Man-Acting. Irony is for losers. Grit, truth, brotherhood, love of family, honor (to an extent) for wives and mistresses. From generation to generation, these unfiltered traits define the great Man-Acters. The rest of us are boys, merely dancing at the feet of immortals.
Now, finally, these men will have a home where we can honors their talents.