Should, and can, movie actors move to theater, or vice versa? I have a whole theory that the answer should be no, but every once in an actor I have to change my opinion. In this blog entry, I’ll focus on a few examples of high quality actors that can traverse any medium successfully:
In no particular or judgmental order…
Bebe Neuwirth. I was extremely fortunate to see Bebe in a production of The Addams Family as Morticia Addams (with Nathan Lane as Gomez–I almost died the entire time). I was a fan of her role on Frasier and Cheers. There are few women that are considered comedy gold and multi-talented enough to hit light, sound, and vocal cues in a dress held together by an invisible zipper and no leg-wiggle room. Bebe is one of the few and clearly demands a spot on this list.
Nathan Lane. I have adored and followed Nathan’s career since my mom thought it necessary to show me The Birdcage–a motion picture based on a musical (to be reviewed as a different type of blog post in the future. It is one of the few to make a good transition from stage to film). He doesn’t often take serious roles (The Boys Next Door, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, etc) but when he does, and showcases that range of emotion and depth of skill, you are flabbergasted. There is nothing like watching Nathan Lane, live or recorded.
Ian McKellen. There are few actors who have bridged the gap of being type cast as the perfect Shakespearean actor to the perfect fantasy actor, and still leave people marveled (pun intended if you catch my drift) at his breadth of capabilities. Ian not only has the beauty and standing of a true, classic actor but he maintains his capability to remain adaptable to the changing times across all types of productions. And while every one on this list has done some of the best social awareness campaigning of the century, Ian is a true vanguard to the LGBTQ+ community.
Derek Jacobi. While the remainder of this list have earned their individual professional accolades, there are few others that have used their accreditations to honor and protect the Bard. Derek is not only an actor, both on and off stage, but also a scholar with several publications affirming (and literal literature history) and preserving the truth of Shakespeare. He is also one of the few on this list where I would prefer his television presence over his stage presence–and only because he is often so lost in character, which is a good thing, but I enjoy seeing Derek as Derek.
I have so many more but as this got to be a lengthier post than I normally like to make, I’ve decided to make a couple versions of it! Keep an eye out for part two and a future blog dedicated to those movie-turned-stage actors who did not make the transition successfully. ‘Til next time.