Stuart's favourite actors - top 10
10 Humphrey Bogart
Bogart’s so iconic that he features in two if my favourite films that he’s not even in! His character from Casablanca is Woody Allen’s ‘mentor’ in Play it Again, Sam, and he’s an inspiration to Jean Paul Belmondo in Breathless.
He was born on Christmas Day 1899. Funny to think he was born two centuries ago.
When I was a kid I loved to watch gangster movies, and Bogart was my favourite. I loved him in Angels With Dirty Faces.
He’s pretty much ‘Bogey’ in every film he’s in, my favourite being The Big Sleep, which you can just watch over and over..
We kind of based the video for Wrapped Up In Books on this scene, though you might not guess it..
9 Jean-Pierre Léaud
..plays probably my favourite character in film, ‘Antoine Doinel’, in the series of films made by Truffaut in the 60s and 70s. (400 Blows, Antoine and Colette, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, Love On The Run) ‘Doinel’ was in large part an incarnation of Truffaut, or the way Truffaut saw himself, or the way Truffaut liked to see himself.. or something. But I love Doinel, like I love Léaud, like love Truffaut.
From Antoine and Colette
and from Stolen Kisses
Léaud also played memorable roles in The Mother And The Whore by Jean Eustache and Last Tango In Paris.
8 Peter Sellers
Seller’s was often described as demanding and difficult to work with. And his personal life was messy too.. (as documented in The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers ) He was utterly dedicated to his art, I suppose. That’s usually when the trouble starts.
Here he is early on, playing Dodger, in Two Way Stretch
(you may have to jump on a couple of minutes, past the credits, though the music is great..)
and here he is playing one of his three parts in Dr Strangelove
I think he had the ability to be a brilliant and subtle actor. He certainly painted in broader strokes later in his career though…
7 Dustin Hoffman
You know, the most perfect start to any film is in fact The Graduate. I got a bit ahead of myself before. I love the titles with Sound Of Silence playing, and Benjamin on the moving walkway.
The start of great movies always give me such a hopeful feeling.
I’ve perhaps spent more screen time with Dustin Hoffman than any other man or woman, if I add up the number of times I’ve watched The Graduate, All The President’s Men, Kramer vs Kramer, Midnight Cowboy. Tootsie even!
If you’ve never seen these movies, then I’m jealous. You’ve got it all to look forward to. (Maybe not so much for Tootsie !)
6 Maggie Smith
The most perfect start to any film is..
The opening sequence of The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, Maggie Smith on her bike cycling through Edinburgh in 1969 (though it’s meant to be 1932), sweeping past her suitors into the school, back to her girrls. I also like a film that starts with a good hymn, and this is no exception.
“Whoever opened the window has opened it too wide! Six inches is perfectly adequate. More is vulgar. Forsooth, one should have an innate sense of these things.”
I suppose this is the role she is best known for, but I also love her in Gosford Park and in A Room For A View, playing ‘poor Charlotte’, the chaperone.
5 Woody Allen
I wonder, if Woody had been in more films that he didn’t direct or write, if he would be regarded more for his acting. Perhaps not. Still, he has delighted and entertained us all on screen, and for that he gets to number 5.
Watch his funny face when he goes after the spider..
This clip from Take The Money And Run doesn’t really show off his acting, but it’s funny too.
4 Michael Caine
Michael Caine likes to keep working. It took him a while to get his break, so when he did, he never wanted to go back, and he wouldn’t turn down the chance to work. So it’s fair to say he’s made his fair share of duff movies.
Does it matter, when you go back and look at the career of an actor? Not really, because the good ones last, and if you didn’t keep working and keep moving forward, the good ones might never have got made. And the good ones were pretty spectacular…
Alfie, Get Carter, The Ipcress File, The Italian Job..
Check out the start of Alfie. Can you think of anyone else who could get away with playing it this first scene, when Caine asks the audience “..you all settled in? Right, we can begin.”
Then he slips seamlessly, perfectly back behind the fourth wall.
Highlights of his career beyond the 60s an 70s, I would say, were Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters, Educating Rita and The Quiet American.
3 Jack Nicholson
At the Monorail film club a few years back, I was asked to pick a movie to show at the Glasgow Film Theatre. I picked The Last Detail which is a great film, with an even greater performance by Jack Nicholson
He’d been around doing stuff in 60s, writing, acting, even arranging the soundtrack to the Monkees movie Head. He got his break in Easy Rider, then he basically played himself to great effect all the way through the 70s. Recommended are Chinatown, Five easy Pieces, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
2 Steve McQueen
Why is Steve McQueen so good? As a lead man, Newman and Redford were better looking.
I can’t think when he had to give a speech, or even a dramatic, emotionally charged pivotal scene.
But.. he’s just so good, so watchable. He’s real easy to get behind. Also, it’s not hard to believe he is actually the character he’s playing. He looks rough enough to be the cowboy, buff enough to be the cop, tough enough to win the Le Mans.
He’s pretty understated, yet he’s bigger than most of the films that he’s in. That’s how the old ‘star’ thing works I suppose.
1 Alec Guiness
And for my No1 ? It was a real toss-up between this guy and McQueen, but in the end went for the age and wisdom of old Ben Kenobi.
His roll in Star Wars is ‘possibly’ what Alec Guiness is best known for, but that was a mere trifle compared to the work that he had already done.
So many favourites, but for fun and virtuosity I’d recommend
Kind Hearts And Coronets, in which he plays eight members of the same family. (You forget after a while that it’s him, but each one is a brilliant comic turn.)
He was the anchorman for so many of Ealing’s ‘gentle’ comedys, such as The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers. He got his Oscar for Bridge Over The River Kwai. (terrific, but a film more for the chaps, maybe)
Best move: asking for his fee to be 2% of the gross on Star Wars. Made him very rich.
Worst move: blacking up, twice, for Lawrence of Arabia, and again for A Passage To India, by which time he and David Lean really should have known better.