Favorite Actors

  • All Time (RIP)

  • Paul Newman
  • Living

  • Kevin Bacon
  • Sean Bean
  • Cate Blanchette
  • Jeff Bridges
  • Gabriel Byrne
  • Nicholas Cage
  • Jim Carrey
  • Jackie Chan
  • Don Cheadle
  • Maggie Cheung
  • George Clooney
  • Russell Crowe
  • John Cusack
  • Matt Damon
  • Johnny Depp
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Aaron Eckhart
  • Dennis Farina
  • Colin Firth
  • Jodie Foster
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Tom Hanks
  • Ethan Hawke
  • Allison Janney
  • Tony Leung
  • Gong Li
  • Frances McDormand
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Choi Min-sik
  • Bill Murray
  • Edward Norton
  • Clive Owen
  • Brad Pitt
  • Jean Reno
  • Alan Rickman
  • Tim Robbins
  • Julia Roberts
  • Tony Shalhoub
  • J.K. Simmons
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Mark Strong
  • Emma Thompson
  • John Turturro
  • Denzel Washington
  • Ving Rhames
  • Hugo Weaving
  • Chow Yun-Fat
  • RIP

  • Fred Astaire
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Cary Grant
  • Buster Keaton
  • Gene Kelly
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Myrna Loy
  • Steve McQueen
  • Gregory Peck
  • William Powell
  • Oliver Reed
  • Jimmy Stewart
  • J.T. Walsh

Did you ever see the televison show, Crime Story? It was the first time I ever saw Dennis Farina, and it was tons o' fun.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Sadly, I missed that one. I remember seeing the ads, but I think it conflicted with something else I watched. And I didn't fully appreciate Farina then. I mean, he only does two things (cop or gangster), but he does them sooo well. My wife tells me that he was a police officer before becoming an actor. Authenticity shines through, I guess.

Jim..I see no Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson, Hoffman. Are you a fan of these acting giants?

I appreciate those actors (well, I'd like to think I do) but am not excited by them (or at least, I'm not as excited as I used to be). I know their contributions are huge, and certainly they've made some movies that I love or greatly admire, but I don't find myself actively seeking out their work (either to watch the stuff I haven't seen, or to rewatch their classics). The fault is almost certainly my own. I seem stuck in the now, and don't rewatch many classics (although I'm trying to catch the ones I've missed). And I think all those actor's best works are behind them. So my recency-freak tendencies (which I continue to work on and fail) combined with their not picking their projects as carefully these days and/or mailing-in recent performances and/or not getting choice roles keeps them off my "favorites" list. But I really should add Nicholson to some kind of "Former Favorites" category. I really liked him at one time. I'll think on that.

I think as actors get older, their choices for parts is dramatically reduced. If they want to keep working, they have to accept some of the stuff that's laid on the table. With what they are offered they do a fine job with. Some of those roles are similar to past roles, so they dont have to do much to prep for them.

Ok, I've updated my list to reflect a bit some of the thoughts this conversation has stirred.

Jim, a Thin Man fan I would guess from your missing of Loy and Powell. My PBS station up here in Boston sporadically plays a Thin Man marathon. Loved those flicks. I am going to have see if they are out on DVD.

Yup! I actually listed Myrna Loy strictly on the basis of her performance in The Thin Man movies (I wasn't sure if I could justify her addition based on such a thin sample, but what the heck - I liked her). Powell's listing is almost as tenuous, but I also thought he was terrific in My Man Godfrey.

Isn't My Man Godfrey terrific? I love that film.

I haven't really seen Powell stretch his acting chops too far, granted, but I have to say that he is one of the coolest actors ever.

Besides, he wore the grooviest mustache in history...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

"Grooviest mustache" . . . Now that would be a good Listology poll. :-) I really must rewatch My Man Godfrey soon (as if I didn't have enough first-time viewing to do).

Jim, you may want to consider visiting a friend who has a television on August 29. I say this because TCM is having a Paul Newman movie marathon starting at 6:00 am. Strangely, they chose not to showcase his biggest films (except "Cool Hand Luke"), but to feature some more obscure Newman movies. Here are the movies in the marathon: Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rack, The Prize, Exodus, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Lady L, Cool Hand Luke, The Mackintosh Man, Absence of Malice, The Color of Money, Until They Sail.

For anyone else who gets TCM, they're doing something of the sort for the entire month, showcasing some great films of the legends of the silver screen. If you're interested, here's the schedule:

Aug 1 - Jimmy Stewart
Aug 2 - Clint Eastwood
Aug 3 - Peter O'Toole
Aug 4 - Joan Crawford
Aug 5 - Fred Astaire
Aug 6 - Robert Mitchum
Aug 7 - James Cagney
Aug 8 - Elizabeth Taylor
Aug 9 - Cary Grant
Aug 10 - Jack Lemmon
Aug 11 - Frank Sinatra
Aug 12 - Greta Garbo
Aug 13 - Gary Cooper
Aug 14 - Charlton Heston (I'm not sure that he's really in the same league as the other legends. Then again, he did star in "Touch of Evil" and "Ben-Hur.")
Aug 15 - Katharine Hepburn
Aug 16 - Steve McQueen
Aug 17 - Gene Kelly
Aug 18 - Marlene Dietrich
Aug 19 - Gregory Peck
Aug 20 - Humphrey Bogart (No "Casablanca." No "Maltese Falcon." No "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." No "To Have and Have Not." Oh, but they are showing "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse." Grr...)
Aug 21 - Judy Garland
Aug 22 - Clark Gable
Aug 23 - John Wayne
Aug 24 - Myrna Loy
Aug 25 - Kirk Douglas
Aug 26 - Lana Turner
Aug 27 - Bette Davis
Aug 28 - Spencer Tracy
Aug 29 - Paul Newman
Aug 30 - Doris Day (Again, I'm not sure she's in the same league as the others.)
Aug 31 - William Holden

Man, of those I've only seen Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money. Some fan. I wonder which of those others are good? Anyway, thanks for the tip!

Of those, the ones I'm going to consider checking out are "Sweet Bird of Youth" (6:00 am - I'll have to tape it), "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (4:00 pm), and "Absence of Malice" (actually 12:00 am on August 30th - TCM doesn't seem to realize that a new day begins at midnight, not at 6:00 am). They all have good IMDB ratings, and the plots sound interesting, to me at least:

Sweet Bird of Youth - A young gigolo returns to
his southern hometown in search of the lost love of his youth.

Somebody Up There Likes Me - True story of boxer
Rocky Graziano's rise from juvenile delinquent to world champ.

Absence of Malice - An ambitious reporter
unwittingly slanders a businessman under federal investigation.

Happy 79th, Paul!

Here's hoping we see more work from this master! Not too many folks in their 70s give us a performance such as Newman's in Road to Perdition.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I didn't realize today was his birthday! I'll have to make note of that. Send him a cake or something. :-)

On a lark, I just checked him out on IMDb, and his next project sounds great! It's an adaptation of the wonderful Richard Russo book Empire Falls (I think Newman might have bought the rights after he did Russo's Nobody's Fool). He's going to play Ed Harris' father! Add Dennis Farina, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt, Aiden Quinn, Joanne Woodward, and Robin Wright Penn to the mix and you've got one heckuva cast. The thing I can't figure out is it says TV in the title, but it doesn't seem like a "made for TV" cast to me.

Well, did you see this? Two of your favorites!

From StudioBriefing:

Paul Newman, whose name appears in the Guinness Book of World Records as as the oldest driver (70) to win a professionally sanctioned race (24 hours of Daytona, 1995), has been signed by Pixar to become the voice of a car in the animation company's upcoming feature Cars, the studio said Tuesday. To promote the role, it said, Newman, who is now 79, will drive a Disney/Pixar-sponsored car on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, in an attempt to break his prveious record. In a statement, Pixar director John Lasseter remarked: "Paul Newman is an acting and racing legend. He is one of the greatest actors of all time, and his love and close association with automobiles makes him the perfect choice for our film. I can't wait to see him beat his own record at Daytona and he'll have a lot fans here at Pixar cheering him on."

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Woo-hoo! No, I didn't see that, thanks for the great news! :-)

Oh, and Empire Falls is an HBO production. For what that's worth to ya!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Ah yes, that makes sense. I guess "made for TV" doesn't really have the same negative connotations it used to now that HBO is cranking out such good stuff. Still an impressive cast, and one that I'd associate more with a significant Hollywood release. I should probably stop underestimating HBO.

I'll tell you a little secret. HBO has been making some great films for over a decade. They're just now getting the credit for it.

Citizen X (95) and (especially) Citizen Cohn (92) (a terrific film which overlaps Angels in America) are great examples. I also liked The Jack Bull, starring John Cusack, John Goodman, and Miranda Otto (let's see, you like her a bit, yes? :) ), somewhat.

1993's And the Band Played On was well-praised, but I haven't caught that one yet.

The Larry Sanders Show was a terrific HBO series long before The Sopranos or The Wire.

Boy, this message makes me wish I still received HBO...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Too bad 99% of the non-HBO films they air are total sh**, especially in comparison to their original programming.

I first got an inkling of that from jgandcag's recommendation of Conspiracy, with Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth. Sigh. I'm always the last to know. Anyway, the blurb:

On January 20, 1942, at the height of the Second World War, 15 government officials and SS Commanders attended a conference on the outskirts of Berlin. It was a simple meeting, which - by the end - would decide the fate of six million lives. Conspiracy is based on the only surviving record of that meeting. It would be the blueprint for Hitler's "final solution."

Powerful stuff.

they shot most of that film in my hometown(empire falls that is)... even got to catch a glimpse of newman walking downtown... he remains the only movie star i've ever seen in person... it was amazing... oh yeah, i'm was an extra! can't wait to see if i made the film.

That is very cool! You'll have to let us know where you show up in the movie, if at all.

My wife almost literally ran into Paul Newman years ago. They were walking towards each other, and both went the same way to avoid collision, then the same way again, then again, until he finally said (in a friendly way), "you stand there", or something like that.

Jackie Chan is an 'actor'?

Otherwise, I think if I cloned this it'd be 70% the same!

:-) One could say the same for Buster Keaton, who I realize I've forgotten. Must add him now.


if you'd be happy to learn bruce willis has not yet peaked i'd suggest you see hostage... quite a surprisingly great film, and an amazing performance with just enough bad-ass for bruce willis to thrive.

Hmm, I may have to check that one out, although it scores pretty low on Metacritic, and alarmingly low on Rotten Tomatoes. Can you tell me a bit more about why you liked it so much?

first off it's probably the best action movie plot i've ever encountered. I don't want to give anything away but it's much better than just willis trying to save hostages, much more complex... other than that it's extremely well done for 3/4 of the movie, before it goes into action movie mode(which isn't all that bad either). really the only thing i didn't like about it was that maybe the "villain" was a little too crazy and disturbed to be completely believable, but that only creeps around for the last 20 minutes or so... basically with the exception of the last 20 minutes it's a brilliant movie... and even then it's still slightly better than your average action movie(but not by much)... nonetheless it's my favorite willis role and he is amazing in it.

Alrighty, I'll give it a whirl. Thanks for the review.

Good choice of favourite actors there Jim. Paul Newman is my all time favourite. Just finished watching Nobody's Fool and Butch Cassidy (my all time favourite). Both films are magnificent. He is a class act. A legend.

Cool, always nice to find another fan! It's a damn near impossible choice, but I think it's possible Nobody's Fool is my favorite Paul Newman movie. If pressed for a choice it's the one I go for, but really there are at least 3-5 that run neck-and-neck.

And yet, somehow, every time Empire Falls creeps to near the top of my Netflix queue I push it back down. My belief it will disappoint me has grown out of proportion with the evidence, but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

What in the world could force film icon Paul Newman to compromise? A restaurant.

Kim Severson has written a delightful little article on the actor's latest venture.

Paul Newman led me to the deck of his new restaurant, behind the famous old theater that his wife, Joanne Woodward, helped save. He put his arm around my shoulder and pointed to the side of the building.

“Now, what do you think of the color?” he asked.

It was green. Kind of a bad, bilious green. But do you tell Paul Newman, 81 and still racing cars, that his latest obsession suffers from a bad paint job?

Maybe he hand-picked the color. Maybe his wife did. Maybe he’s colorblind.You'll have to read the article to learn the answer as well as the far too clever name of the restaurant. I wasn't surprised to learn that Newman makes a mean chicken soup but the news about meatloaf shocked me.

It's all for a good cause, he has a good partner and there are some good ideas (a Farmers' Market, for one.) But there are hundreds of restaurants stocked with second-hand equipment from celebrity restaurants, the project is already a half mil over budget and there are some less good ideas (electric go-carts.) Celebrity has a fighting chance to trump location, location, location but it is difficult when you have to explain tomatoes to the owner.

Still, I wouldn't bet against Paul Newman and I totally agree about the chocolate soup with gummy coconut gnocchi.

Wow, thanks, can't believe I missed that! When you combine conduct onscreen and off, has Hollywood produced anyone cooler? I say no, but will entertain nominations.

George Clooney.

Good one. Will you settle for runner-up? (pending other nominations)


I was reminded of this by seeing a television schedule with Three Kings, The Perfect Storm and Ocean's Eleven one right after the other. It made me wonder what the next thirty-five years will bring from Mr. Clooney. It also made me wonder when I stopped hating Mark Wahlberg.

I do think that, if drinking doesn't result in disqualification, then Bogart is up there. It must be something about good second marriages. Somehow I doubt that Clooney will manage to have a second marriage of almost a half-century.

I read an article a few months ago where the author was trying to guess which current actor was producing the greatest number of movies people would still be watching (and recognizing by name) 50 years from now (our Bogart movies, for example). I believe he (or she) came to the conclusion it was Nicholas Cage. Not sure if George Clooney was in the running or not.

Not that that has anything to do with anything. This just made me think of that, so I wrote it down (or typed it up (why does writing go down but typing goes up?)). I probably shouldn't do that for every little thought that pops into my head.

It's an interesting problem. I've heard of 17 of Bogart's 75 movies, but I'm most familiar with only 5-8. Let's say most folks could name five Bogart movies. Jimmy Stewart comes in around 10, but he made 100 movies. Cary Grant goes around 8 for 73 (both he and Stewart also benefit from Hitchcock bumps). So lets say to even be in contention you need five movies that'll pass the 50-year test.

(Does the 50-year test mean normal people have to still recognize the movies, or fans? Does it mean, 50 years from now, you take a random survey and say "name as many George Clooney movies as you can" and the average result is that actor's score?).

I'm thinking Cusack and Washington will both come in around 3 to 5, as it stands now. Cage is probably right around there too, although he might get up into the 5 to 8 range because of the big action movies and some really fortunate roles early in his career.

There's the whole feedback loop problem too. Movies can be iconic on their own, but an iconic actor can automatically pull their top 5 to 10 movies into the future, just as a representative sample of their work.

Westporter Paul Newman has closed the book on his acting career. It appears that Newman will ride drive off into the sunset with Doc Hudson as his final movie role.

This disclosure came on yesterday's ABC's Nightline. In a Springsteen-like deal with the devil the announcement was folded into a feature on Newman, chef Michel Nischan, Newman's own Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant and organic/local farming in general. I guess a restaurant really will make you compromise.

I wonder how long the weekly series "Nightline's Taste of the World" will last after they run out of moviestar icons massaging pigs. Really. Rare ones. Two Ginger Tamworths. One named "Thelma," the other "Louise." I'm not joking.

At this point I would like to mention that George Clooney owned a Vietnamese black bristled potbellied pig for almost twenty years. I have no information on the massage situation.

I'll miss the physical charisma of Newman's youth. As he aged it was great to see someone completely confident and comfortable in their own skin. At least we'll always have, "Yeah, I'm ready, man."

I am delighted to see Paul Newman decide how and when (and why) to leave the movies. It confirms much about my high opinion of him... and he can eat fifty eggs.

Out of respect for your feelings I chose not to start this post with: "I told you restaurants are hard." You have my condolences.

Thanks for the condolences and all the great links (loved the Paris Blues clip, when the heck is Netflix going to carry that?). His restaurant is only a couple hours from here. I feel a road trip coming on.

Most of my favorites change weekly, if I can pick them at all. Food, movies, books, musics: all favorites subject to whim and caprice. But Paul Newman has been my favorite actor for many years now, and I can't imagine anyone ever knocking him off. The classiest act. I hope he has a fulfilling retirement. I can't imagine he won't.

Thank you again, very much.

When I heard the news that Paul Newman is fighting cancer I wasn't surprised. But I certainly didn't want to believe it was true. The denials served to convince me that it is true but, in an odd way, I found them comforting.

I thought of Billy Strayhorn. (He and Newman now have both Paris Blues and cancer in common.) I thought of you and some of the movies we might have seen together. And then I thought of Joanne Woodward.

When it comes to an end, as everything does, I think Paul Newman will have somehow found his way to a full and fulfilling life.

...by helping others to do the same. Which is what I find most comforting.

It is the way to guarantee I will see heaven.

Wow, that's a punch in the stomach, I somehow missed this news. I mean, I knew this was coming one way or another, and maybe the denials are true, but he's getting up there. It'll be a sad day when it comes, but hopefully it's still aways off. And even if he dies tomorrow, what a life! Hard to be too sad about that.

Thank you for the links. The whorehouse bed story is GREAT.

"Class act" is the only way to describe that guy. Funny to observe that on the heels of the phrase "whorehouse bed", but that won't stop me.

The Army Game: Newman at the age of thirty and directed by Franklin Schaffer.
See if you can guess who sponsors The Kaiser Aluminum Hour.

Don't forget Sean Penn!

I thought of Joanne Woodward and I thought of you.

It may be small consolation but when I think of Paul Newman's final role I don't think of Doc Hudson. I think of his last public appearances, all of them for a purpose. His restaurant, his racing team, his theater, Newman's Own, the Scott Newman Foundation, the Double H Ranch, the Hole in the Wall Gang, Camp Boggy Creek and the list goes on. He went all in... and he can eat fifty eggs.

I know you don't have a television but the Sunday news programs will be full of nostalgic, hagiographic footage. Thankfully David Letterman, as he has so many times before, will strike the perfect note of farewell.

I don't think he wound down; I think he finished up.

He made it to their fiftieth anniversary. "I started third and I finished first."

Thank you so much. I've been away all day, just found out. Crushed. How can I be so sad when he spent his life so well? Greatest celebrity role model ever. We'll all miss him. Sorry, not very coherent, I know. Man.