There are some actors whose talent and screen presence transcends the quality of any movie. They are those actors who when they turn up on screen, even in the midst of the shittiest movie possible, you can’t help but enjoy their work. What follows are the Shoving Buddies Top 10 such actors:
10. John C Reilly
Propping up the list, Reilly feels like one of the most genuine people working in Hollywood. He also never seems to age. And not to say he looks young now, I just think he was born kind of crusty and middle aged looking. But like his peers Steve Buscemi and Philip Seymour Hoffman he is evidence that looking like a crumpled bus is no barrier to a successful acting career. Traditionally seen as an outright comedic actor he has also put in some fantastic dramatic performances, none more so than in We Need To Talk About Kevin. Also stole the show in Boogie Nights as the comic relief to Dirk Digglers giant cocked straight man. Was in Never Been Kissed Though, so not always to be trusted.
Recommended Viewing: Boogie Nights, Hard 8, Magnolia, The Good Girl, Step Brothers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, We Need To Talk About Kevin
9. Mark Ruffalo
For someone who didn’t hit Hollywood’s radar until his 30’s it does feel like Ruffalo has been around forever. Of the three actors who have played Hulk in recent times, along with Eric Bana(na) and Ed Norton, he was probably the most surprising casting choice. He was also the most successful in capturing the character which should give you some idea of his versatility. Done some turkeys though, none more so than ghostly-rom-com Just Like Heaven. Was also present in In The Cut which means he is partly responsible for inflicting Meg Ryan’s boobs on the world.
Recommended Viewing: Zodiac, Shutter Island, Avengers Assemble, Collateral, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, XX/XY
8. Sam Rockwell
Always tends to be the supporting character rather than the leading man, but equally always tends to steal the scenes. Plays crazy in Green Mile, nutty in Matchstick Men and kooky in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Never better than when he has a twisted character to bring to life. Even his presence in the turgid The Sitter couldn’t damage his reputation.
Recommended Viewing: Moon, The Green Mile, Matchstick Men, Frost/Nixon, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
7. Robert Downey Jr
Hollywood loves to love to hate to love Robert Downey Jr. From Oscar Darling to the butt of all cracked-out jokes in the late 90’s he has had a renaissance in the last 10 years culminating in the Iron Man franchise catapulting him back to the top of the A-List. There is an argument that Downey only ever plays shades of the same characters in everything he does. To be honest though I’d happily watch him to do that same character for the next 20 years because he is endlessly entertaining. He was in Tim Allen’s Shaggy Dog though sooooo….maybe they should still make him pee in a cup once in a while.
Recommended Viewing: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man (franchise), Sherlock Holmes (franchise), Wonder Boys, Natural Born Killers, Zodiac, Good Night & Good Luck
6. Steve Buscemi
Old googley eyes is very much like Christopher Walken in that he never seems to turn down work. And even though that means he is more likely than most to turn up in some dross (usually having something to do with Adam Sandler) it also means he has done some interesting work that others may have shyed away from. Rarely a leading man in anything of significant budget, he has recently seen a jump in his stock value with the lead role of Enoch “Nucky” Thomspon in Martin Scorcese’s Boardwalk Empire.
Recommended Viewing: Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Con Air, The Wedding Singer, Ghost World, Monsters Inc, Youth In Revolt
5. Leonardo DiCaprio
With his double whammy of Romeo + Juliet and then Titanic Di Caprio was the hottest property on the planet in the mid-late 90s. And it could have been very easy for him to phone in rom-coms for $20m paychecks for the next 15 years. But DiCaprio wanted to be taken seriously as an actor and his role choices over the last 10-12 years reflect that. A couple of tricky biographies, mind bending sci-fi, hard hitting dramas about abusive relationships and diamond mining and tense thrillers punctuate his recent CV. In fact the only thing you’d say he doesn’t do is comedy, the closest thing being Catch Me If You Can. His recent efforts have all but erased the memory of The Beach and The Man In The Iron Mask.
Recommended Viewing: Inception, Revolutionary Road, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, Shutter Island, This Boys Life, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator
4. Ryan Gosling
Like Leo before him Gosling has those classic Hollywood good looks and cover boy charm that meant following the success of the Notebook he could be cashing $10m cheques starring in rom-coms where he leans up against his co-star in the poster. But like Leo before him he is an actor who takes his craft seriously and has made some fantastic choices that other actors of his age and public image would have been scared to make. Crack addict high school teacher? Check. Introvert weirdo who falls in love with a blow up doll? Check. Tattooed bank robbing motorcycle riding badass? Check. He even out Clooney’d Clooney in Ides of March. It was Drive though that set him out as one of the most interesting actors of his generation. By all accounts he had a troubled up bringing dealing with being a loner and being bullied which has carried over in to his adult life, meaning he is not one for the Hollywood party circuit. Hopefully that will continue and he will keep making interesting work.
Recommended Viewing: Drive, Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, United States of Leland, Ides of March, Crazy Stupid Love
3. Christopher Walken
I could write an essay on Christopher Walken. The man is a legend and an old school all round accomplished entertainer. He can sing, dance, do comedy, drama. Along with Alec Baldwin he is the only other person who has a standing invitation to host SNL every year. He has 121 titles credited to him on IMDB and legend has it he never turns down a movie role unless scheduling means it’s not physically possibly to do both. Which is how he has, along with Buscemi, one of the most diverse CVs in Hollywood. Would watch him in anything.
Recommended Viewing: True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Wedding Crashers, Catch Me If You Can, Sleepy Hollow, Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, Deer Hunter, Annie Hall
2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Quite possibly one of the least attractive leading men in Hollywood is also quite possibly one of my favourite actors of all time. His versatility knows no bounds, from the smallest most understated indie performances to blockbuster scene chewing bad guys. He’s never better in my opinion though than when he’s playing deeply conflicted. He hasn’t made too many stinkers but he was in Patch Adams which was close to a crime against humanity.
Recommended Viewing: Pretty much anything he is in to be honest but his very best performances are probably Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Capote, Love Liza, Happiness, Charlie Wilson’s War and The Master
1. Michael Fassbender
Although he’s been acting in various TV bit parts and minor movie roles since early 2000’s the enigmatic Irishman known lovingly at Shoving Buddies HQ as “The Fass” seemed to explode on the scene in 2009 in Inglorious Basterds and has been in everything ever since. He must literally never stop working. It’s an impressively broad body of work as well: Comic books (X-Men, Jonah Hex), sci-fi (Prometheus), action (Haywire), indie (Shame), period dramas (Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method). He is also generally the best thing in everything he does. His performance as android David in Prometheus is the only reason I didn’t walk out on that ball achingly annoying movie. He has a lot of exciting projects in the works, none more so than the screen adaptation of Assassins Creed where he is playing Altair Ibn La-Ahad. It is one of the most engaging video game stories of recent times and certainly one that could transfer to screen. There is yet to be a succesful video game to movie crossover (see Hitman for the last terrible effort) but you can’t help but think if anyone can do it The Fass can. And even if it’s shit i’ll still watch him in it!
Others who nearly made the list: There were so many others who I could have put on the list but just fell short: Mark Strong, Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jason Clarke, Jason Issacs, Bryan Cranston, Christian Bale, Michael C Hall, Martin Sheen and Matt Damon to name but a few (and not forgetting Walton Goggins).