Should, and can, movie actors move to theater, or vice versa? Part two! 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…
Patrick Stewart. There are few others on my list, or possibly any bodies list, who can manage to perform not only with millions of voices in their head (Prof. Xavier) but also as multiple characters in a one-man production (A Christmas Carol). He is one of those actors that have successfully dedicated their classical repertoire and training with a flexibility that lends itself successfully across a wide variety of genres. Few roles of his are deemed unsuccessful and are often categorized as the epitome of exemplification for growing actors.
Daniel Radcliffe. I have never witnessed an actor make such a drastic turn from stock, singular (we can debate about his character depth in HP in a different blog) to a dynamic character. I think, also, people really questioned his ability to play any other role than Harry but he proved, quite easily, by taking on the Alan in Equus. There was nothing more shocking or exciting, he was one of the first actors whose career path I wanted to watch and see what happened next. I was engaged with his growth and potential, and trust me–there’s a lot of it.
Maggie Smith. A living legend. Her range of skill and embodiment of the numerous amount of roles she’s fulfilled is not easily surpassed both others in both her generation or even possible in posterity. I have always recognized and enjoyed how her career has been an interesting and balanced mixture of, what I identify as, safe or risky. She knows how to push the envelope, but understands when it’s important to play to the audience; either on stage or on film, it doesn’t matter. She delivers to her fanbase extremely well and revels in all of their roles.
Matthew Broderick. I imagine that he would’ve been hard to be seen as a stage actor based on all of the comedy films and shows he starred in. But why? I think people imagine theater being a stiffer atmosphere than other production mediums and that’s really kind of wrong. Greek theater created both drama and comedy; and they aren’t much different as generic genres except that, often, comedies conclude with a happy ending. Now, he did take some off between his transition to move from movies to theater, but perhaps that time was well spent as he’s been a successful stage actor for many years now.
Bette Midler. This woman breaks the mold, day in and day out she is constantly breaking down barriers and uses her voice (literally and figuratively) to make a difference in our world. She achieved notoriety with the effortless use of her voice, a strength and skill that has remained unchanged for decades. She’s also one of the few that, in my opinion, I feel delivers best on stage because of her gregarious stage presence; she can, quite literally, steal screen time as your eyes may never leave her, even as a supporting actor.
Did you see the first set of actors I labelled as successfully Crossing Mediums? Keep an eye out for a future blog dedicated to those movie-turned-stage actors who did not make the transition successfully. ‘Til next time.