“There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.” Now… I been sayin’ that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin’ made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here… he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”
I’ve mentioned this point before in our Man-Acting series, but, following the pace of best theatrical writing quality, the top Man-Acting is finding its home on cable television.Think “The Shield”‘s Vic Mackey, “Sons of Anarchy”‘s Jax Teller, “The Sopranos” Tony Soprano, and almost all the male (and some of the female) stars on “The Wire.”
Now, we get a new vehicle for a potential Man-Acting star. Witness the rising talents of Tim Olyphant.
Olyphant first showcased his Man-Acting credentials in HBO’s “Deadwood,” a wonderfully poetic and violent drama highlighting the origins of the U.S. Empire and its infrastructures through the familiar milieu of the Western. It was stunningly written, and, though unknowingly, worked as a perfect companion piece to match “The Wire,” which showcased the growing cracks in the U.S.’s grand plan.
In the series, Olyphant plays Seth Bullock, the town’s reluctant sheriff who walks the line between the enforcing the law and guiding the town’s survival as enemies from all sides crash down on it.
One of the biggest lines of demarcation for Man-Actors is their ability to sell their on-screen fighting technique. Could a fifth-grader block their lame haymaker, or would I want this actor on my side when the paparazzi get too close for comfort? Continue reading
Kudos to James Schaffer for bringing up Alec Baldwin as a candidate for our Man-Actor series
Man-Acting 102: The Alec Baldwin Conundrum
Baldwin was at one time was one of the dominant forces in Hollywood, starring in blockbuster movies like “The Hunt for Red October”, “Beatlejuice” and “The Shadow.” Baldwin also had smaller, more impactful roles like this quintessential Man-Acting cameo from “Glengarry Glenn Ross”:
A personal favorite was his turn in the James Lee Burke adaption “Heaven’s Prisoners” as the Louisiana detective and recovering drunk Dave Robicheaux. Link to the preview trailer here.
So, where did badass Man-Actor Baldwin disappear to? In the late 90s he started to drift into comedy cameos on shows like “Will & Grace” and “Friends.” Hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live started to pile up. He crossed over to full time comedy with “30 Rock.” A divorce kept him in the media’s harsh spotlight, and, in a defense mechanism similar to Orson Wells and Marlon Brando, Baldwin started to gain weight. With his glory days of Man-Acting behind him, he’s become a pure comedic phenomenon.
There is nothing inherently wrong with going full comedy. Robert De Niro crossed that Rubicon and is making Hollywood bank. And for Baldwin, he’s probably receiving more positive press than he ever did as a straight actor. But, as a Man-Acting connoisseur, there’s a tinge of disappointment with this career move, because unlike a De Niro or a Pacino, I don’t know if Baldwin could ever tap his early career mojo again. A shame.
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. Continue reading