Saturday, March 12, 2011

Favourites #3: Tough Guy Actors

As we discussed fairly recently, this segment of the blog will feature either movies, directors, actors or anything relevant to movies, things that I like. This time around we're gonna look at my favourite Tough Guy actors. Please note that Tough Guy actors does not always mean "Action star". How do they differ? Well, it's pretty self-explanatory that they are nothing like Edward Gaylen or Zac Gayfron, that much is clear.

So perhaps this little graphic will shed some light on the matter?

So with that in mind, here are some actors known for playing tough guys. Some are just good at it, others because they can't really play anything else.

#1 Michael Madsen
You've seen him in:
Reservoir Dogs [1992]
Kill Bill [2003-2004]
Hell Ride [2008]

Probably the most typecast Tough Guy actor in the industry, but I enjoy watching him at work anyway because he's just so darn good at it. He is never shown kicking ass the way other tough guys have, but you know he's the real deal just being in the same room with him. Of course, it helps that you can't spell his name without the word "mad". It is also interesting to note that there is a soft side to him as well, although this is mostly seen in real life; the dude is an accomplished poet. Poetry is not exactly my forte. But I've read a few of his, and I must say I love how deep a person he is.

#2 Toshiro Mifune
You've seen him in:
Rashomon [1950]
Seven Samurai [1954]
Yojimbo [1961]

Iconic Japanese actor best known for his sixteen film collaborations with the great Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa. Now, Mifune is one of those Tough guy actors whose talent stretched beyond that particular type of role. But all the same his Tough guy persona is the one that has the most influence, seen even in animes of today where there will always be at least one guy who is all stoic, speaks multiple octaves lower than most people and are practically emotionless.

#3 Bruce Willis
You've seen him in:
Die Hard [1988 - 2012?]
Pulp Fiction [1994]
Armageddon [1998]

Another versatile actor, but it's really his tough guy roles that were the most memorable ones. Now, you might argue that he leans more towards the action hero side of the fence, but you can't neglect his roles in Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, The Fifth Element, Lucky Number Slevin and many more that didn't involve him running into a room with guns blazing a la John McClane. Nope, another thing he does best is as simple as standing still with a smug on his face. There's no need to get all hyper to intimidate people when you're Bruce Willis.

#4 Dolph Lundgren
You've seen him in:
Rocky IV [1985]
Universal Soldier [1995]
The Expendables [2010]

One look at the guy and you'll know this is a dude you wouldn't want to mess with. Standing at 196 cm (6'5), square-jawed with steely blue eyes (pretty much an Aryan poster boy) and even in his 50's, still possess hard-rock abs. Dolph Lundgren also walks a fine line between a tough guy archetype and an action hero. But what landed him on this list is that he's a genuine tough guy in real life as well. How much of a tough guy is he? Well, there was this one time when three robbers broke into his house in Spain and tied up his wife. But they quickly made their escape when they saw a photo of him. True story. And if you think you can outsmart him in a battle wits, don't. The dude reportedly has an IQ of 160. He could be a Greek or a Norse god for all we know.

#5 Samuel L. Jackson
You've seen him in:
Pulp Fiction [1994]
Unbreakable [2000]
S.W.A.T [2003]

How can there be only one African-American actor here? With plenty of gangsta rappers out there cursing throughout the whole movie while holding their guns sideways and everything? Well, I'm not at all a fan of that kind of display of toughness. But the thing is, Samuel L. Jackson here is way above and beyond all that. I think it's the voice that commands respect, and you can't help but pay attention to everything he's saying, even if it's as mundane as "I need to use the bathroom".

#6 Jean Reno
You've seen him in:
Leon [1994] (a.k.a The Professional)
Ronin [1998]
The Da Vinci Code [2006]

Now this is another good example of a versatile tough guy actor. He works mostly in his adopted homeland of France (he was originally from Morocco), Jean Reno is similar to Bruce Willis in the sense that there's no need for him to raise his voice and act all maniacal to intimidate anyone. This is best seen in one of my favourite movies of all time, Leon [1994]. I don't think I've ever seen anyone look so deadly wearing a pair of full-moon glasses.

#7 Brad Pitt
You've seen him in: 
(aw c'mon... you know who he is)
Fight Club [1999]
Troy [2004]
Inglourious Basterds [2009]

If you ask me, Brad Pitt is quite underrated as far as his acting capabilities are concerned. He was really good in movies like Twelve Monkeys [1995] and The Devil's Own [1997], to name a few. But it's really when he walks around shirtless, getting into fistfights that people remember him the most. Well, can't blame the guy for being such a tasty dish that women crave for, and men try to be. I seriously doubt that he has any complain about that. After all, he got in Angelina Jolie's pants because of that.

#8 Daniel Craig
You've seen him in:
Casino Royale [2006]
The Invasion [2007]
Quantum of Solace [2008]

I suppose you could say he has all those James Bond roles to thank. But to his credit, he also took the James Bond character into a realm where he's cool again. Prior to that, I got tired of that other version of James Bond who are the epitome of an old man with midlife crisis. Daniel Craig has a great physique, not traditionally handsome but he has that battered look of a professional boxer. Adding to that is that gentlemanly and mild-mannered way about him, adding a whole dimension to his otherwise rough-around-the-edges appearance.

#9 Jason Statham
You've seen him in:
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels [1998]
The Transporter [2002 - 2008]
The Italian Job [2003]

Also best known for his ass-kicking roles, Jason Statham is an equally good tough guy actor. Sure, his tough guy roles are not as well-known as his Transporter persona, but you should really watch movies like Cellular [2004] and Chaos [2005] to have a taste of how much of a badass he can be without firing a gun or pimp-slapping a bad guy.

#10 Peter Stormare
You've seen him in:
Fargo [1996]
Bad Boys II [2003]
Prison Break [2005 - 2006]

Compared to the rest of the guys here, Peter Stormare had quite a limited appearance. But even in the briefest of appearances, he still showcased that he is a very capable actor who also excels in playing tough guy characters. This is probably best exemplified in Prison Break where he played the badass mafioso John Abruzzi. All he had to do is stand over you and not say a damn thing, that's enough to get you to hyperventilate and fidget around nervously.


Anonymous said...

Madsen it the best.. love to watch him work.. i agree #1 toughguy

Mamü Vies said...

Amen to that! :)
I can't see how anyone would disagree.

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