Lynden Barber on unspectacular acting



Alfred Molina (source: Circus Theatricals).

There’s a great piece about film acting up at New Matilda at the moment by Lynden Barber.

He mentions the wonderful character actor Alfred Molina as an example of a screen actor who often “perfectly embodies a character.”

Good films — and sometimes even mediocre ones — are full of great acting that goes unnoticed. That’s why they’re great — we’re not meant to notice the craft behind them. Genuine performances don’t have tickets on themselves. Sadly, this means they often pass uncelebrated.

For instance I can’t recall anyone ever writing that Alfred Molina, who plays the father of Carey Mulligan’s schoolgirl heroine in An Education, is one of the greatest British film and TV actors currently working — which he so clearly is. Incredibly, I’ve never read a single interview or profile of the man, whose long line of screen credits stretches back as far as a 1981 appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not once has he been nominated for an Academy Award.

Yet there is a very good reason he keeps on getting so much work. Molina is one of those actors — and oddly we call them character actors, as if there were any other kind — that most viewers recognise, but whose name is known by few outside of a small circle of film critics and screen industry professionals.

There are shades here of the hilarious conversation between Ben Stiller and R0bert Downey Jr about the craft of playing handicapped characters in Tropic Thunder.