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Jim 7

Christine Baranski. Actual examples? From what I've read, Melissa Leo just pulled it off in 'Frozen River' but I haven't seen it yet. Frances McDormand in 'Fargo' and 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.'

Gary Oldham was a star but is now a character actor; he could carry a movie again. Alan Rickman. Hugo Weaving. John Turturro. William H. Macy is having the kind of career you describe. And Alec Baldwin is doing it in reverse.

MoXmas

1) Matthau was the essence of both romantic lead and action hero in HOPSCOTCH, with Glenda Jackson. It's a perfect Ross Thomas story.

2) Isn't John C Reilly the Matthau equivalent right now? Except instead of cynical, he plays naive?

apostate

Thanks for pointing to that anecdote about sleeping naked. Funny.

I thought everybody did that (slept naked).

I have nothing to offer in response to your question.

Mike Schilling

Before The Odd Couple, Matthau played a rumpled cynic in The Fortune Cookie, also his first collaboration with Jack Lemmon. It's a simpler version, though: a sleazy lawyer nicknamed "Whiplash Willie", with a heart of pure tin. Funniest line:

(Matthau's kid asks him for a quarter to put in a donation jar.)
Matthau: What's it for?
Kid: Unwed mothers.
Mattahu: Unwed mothers? OK, I'm for that.

Janelle Dvorak

Tom Wilkinson.

Dan Leo

Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman, too. Those guys are great, and not exactly Redford and Newman in the looks department.

Mike Molloy

Joe Pantoliano

mlberry

Actually, "Hopscotch" is based on a novel by Brian Garfield, who won an Edgar Award for it. The book's very different from the movie but worth seeking out.

Dave the H.

Chris Cooper.

Tommy Lee Jones.

As plain-faced as can be, and both such excellent actors.

OutOfContext

Tangentially, one of my favorite lines in all my television viewing is from an episode of the Naked City; Ross Martin plays a latin man who has taken a police detective's pretty friend hostage. The detective tries to calm her down with words of comfort when Martin, who has a gun to her head, says, "She cannot hear you. All she hears is the whisper of death."
I may have left a 'gringo' out, but 'the whisper of death' has become part of my lingo since.

Campaspe

CURRENT character actors? You sparked a discussion about this once before, when we talked about the decline of the character actor (and his migration to TV, as your mention of Gandolfini demonstrates). The economics of Hollywood give so little room for this. But I am coming up with one name, and he's awesome:

William H. Macy. A character actor who carried Fargo just as much as Frances McDormand did.

Jim 7, great list. But while Hollywood seems to consider Alan Rickman a character actor and has always cast him accordingly, almost every woman of my acquaintance considers him a total heartthrob. Some smart executive should pick up on that, but they're probably too busy trying to find the next Angelina Jolie.

hamletta

A little late to the party, but I want to second Campaspe's point.

I first noticed Alan Rickman in Sense and Sensibility, where his character was just et up with love for Kate Winslet.

He was scrumptious in Love, Actually, and then the Mad Priest sent me to this video, and my reaction was, "Nnnnggghhhh...."

It is total lady porn.

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