6 Counterintuitive Fav Roles Of Famous Actors
Do you think Martin Sheen loved punching mirrors in Apocalypse Now as much as we loved watching him do it? Probably not. Just because an actor gives an amazing performance doesn't mean they had a rockin' good time doing it. In fact, many actors' favorite roles have little to do with what got them awards, or enough cash to buy special mansions solely to hold said awards in. For example ...
Johnny Depp's "Proudest Achievement" Was A Cameo In A British Sketch Show
You can call Johnny Depp many things (drug addict, wife beater, box office poison), but "obscure" isn't one of them. He's been doing iconic turns from the time he was a teenage heartthrob to the time he was a middle-aged man still trying to be a teenage heartthrob. But out of all his roles, nothing comes close to the honor he felt being cast as "some American guy" in a tiny British comedy.
The Fast Show was a niche sketch show co-created and starring Paul Whitehouse, which ran from 1994 to 1997 for 40 episodes -- making it the longest-running British show by about 32 episodes. But its biggest claim to fame has to be that it's #1 fan was none other than Depp, something even the Wikipedia page dedicates an entire section to. So when the show reached out to Depp to do a walk-on role in its final episode, he jumped at the chance. He appears in the last sketch of the series as an "American" who gets asked a bunch of inappropriately sexual questions by Whitehouse's saucy tailor. Depp still recalls this as "absolutely one of my proudest achievements."
Depp's love for The Fast Show seems to be undying. In 2003, he managed to sneak one of the show's catchphrases into Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl (which then evolved into the cannibal plot in Dead Man's Chest). Meanwhile, the only reason he missed the show's reunion special in 2014 was that he was too busy making his "vanity project" Mortdecai, in which he plays a slapstick British character that critics have compared to the Fast Show's "very very drunk man."
And to show his gratitude for all the laughs, Depp has put Whitehouse, whom he considers "the greatest actor of all time," into several of his British-flavored movies, like Mortdecai, Finding Neverland, and Alice In Wonderland. So there is a way for sketch comedians to get movie work. All you have to do is make People's Sexiest Man Alive giggle a bit.
Related: Sneaky Ways Directors Hid Cameos
Viola Davis Enjoyed Playing A Very Undignified Murderer In Law & Order
Hollywood has a long history of racial insensitivity. But despite the recent Melaissance, the industry is learning (sort of), and men and women of color have a lot more robust, heroic, and dignified roles for the taking. But if you ask Viola Davis, that's nothing compared to playing reprehensible human garbage.
During an actor roundtable in 2011, Davis pointed out that black women in movies are "are always overly sanctified. Overly nurturing, overly sympathetic. And to find that place where you're messy is very difficult." Instead of her "dignified" portrayal of a strong black woman in The Help, she wanted to talk about the role as "Terry." Which strong, black woman was Terry? The kind strong enough to beat an entire family to death with a baseball bat.
In a 2002 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (the third most successful series in the franchise), Davis plays villain of the week Terry Randolph, a corrupt, drug-dealing retired cop who murders a city comptroller's family after he threatens to take away her pension. Davis' episode, "Badge," is so bad and forgettable that the writers later asked her to come back for a recurring role in Special Victims Unit, safe in the knowledge no one would remember Terry.
But Davis remembers her fondly, admitting "I appreciated killing a whole family with a baseball bat" -- something black actresses don't get to do very often. We're left to conclude that years later, when she randomly killed a room full of her underlings as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, that wasn't in the script. That was merely Davis living her dream.
Keanu Reeves Loved John Constantine For His Strong Emotions
Keanu Reeves had been raring to play a comic book hero since he started acting, but aside from a cattle call to play Superman, the laidback actor never got a serious chance. Then came 2005's Constantine, a free-ballin' adaptation of DC's Hellblazer, about a guy who sends rogue demons back where they came from in the hopes of un-punching his own one-way ticket to Hell.
Reeves jumped at the chance to play ecclesiastic ICE enforcer John Constantine. Sadly, critics panned the movie, particularly Reeves' deadpan, with one calling him a "wooden icon" (and not in the good Jesus way).
Yet Reeves considers Constantine the best character he's ever played. He just loved the guy's anger and relentless drive. In fact, Reeves is still such a fan that he wouldn't mind dusting off the old rosary for a sequel.
Badass Samuel L. Jackson's Favorite Role Was Being A Loser Detective
Asking Samuel L. Jackson about his favorite role is like asking a toddler about their favorite animal. He's starred in over 100 movies (and that's in 2018 alone), with no signs of slowing down. He has been a Jedi, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and motherlovin' Shaft. But despite playing a dozen of the coolest characters to ever saunter onto our screens, he will always have time to reminisce about when he got to play a big ol' nobody.
When asked to name his favorite characters by human BuzzFeed quiz Jimmy Fallon, Jackson picked Mitch Hennessy from 1996's forgettable B-movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. So what makes Mitch more awesome than Nick Fury or any of his Tarantino badasses? Nothing whatsoever. A loser P.I. hired by Geena Davis' amnesiac assassin, Mitch plays an in-over-his-head doormat who mostly winds up beaten and bloody while his partner does all the butt-kicking. And It couldn't have been a fun shoot for Jackson either, since he seems to spend most of his time having to contemplate his life while lying naked in a basement ...
... lying on asphalt after being yelled at by Davis ...
... or lying in the snow after being getting blown up:
So why Mitch? Unlike his lightsaber-wielding, snakes-off-plane-kicking heroes, Mitch is an average guy who still manages to "suck it up" and sticks with his partner, despite being way out of his league. Jackson also happily recalls that while his character died in the original cut, audiences loved Mitch so much that director Shane Black decided to let him live. And for a guy whose characters die so often that his supercuts rival those of Sean Bean, Mitch being allowed to live must mean he's something special.
Frank Langella Loved Hamming It Up As Skeletor
If you ask Dolph Lundgren, action star of such direct-to-video classics as Icarus and Kindergarten Cop 2, being in the 1987 live-action adaptation of Masters Of The Universe was the low point of his career. But if you ask Frank Langella, award-winning thespian of both stage and screen, being in that critical and financial bomb was an absolute privilege.
From Dracula to Richard Nixon, Langella has tackled a lot of complicated monsters, but one of his favorite antagonists -- nay, characters in general -- was He-Man's nemesis Skeletor. What made the fleshless scourge of Eternia such a big get for the esteemed actor? Pure love. As he explains, "I played him because my son was four years old and walked around with a sword yelling, 'I the power!' And he loved, loved, loved Skeletor. I didn't even blink . I couldn't wait to play him."
But aside from getting himself nominated for the Raddest Dad Oscar, Langella cherishes his time on Masters Of The Universe because he was free to ham it up. Delivering his lines with Nic-Cage-worthy gusto was clearly as much fun for him as was for the kids in the theaters to cheer at -- when they weren't shaking their heads in confusion at the otherwise bizarre and unwieldy adaptation.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Prefers Doing Goofball Comedies To Action Films
Toward the end of the '80s, when action stars ruled the world like beefy gods, there wasn't any bigger name than Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose characters spewed more bullets than lines of dialog. But secretly, Arnie had always dreamt of doing more witty comedy, like his Bond heroes Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
His big break came while cracking wise at a movie party, when filmmaker Ivan Reitman approached him to tell him he was surprised he never saw his comedy chops on screen. To which the secret comedy nerd replied, "Well, what's holding you back? Write something for me!" (we'll assume while holding Reitman in some sort of headlock). The result was Twins, the wildly unexpected comedy in which Schwarzenegger plays an Ubermensch brother to Danny DeVito's genetic runoff.
Naturally, producers weren't too keen on the heavily accented Austrian mountain doing a dialog-heavy movie, but Schwarzenegger was so gung-ho for it that he even waved his usual massive fee because he believed he could make it a hit. And he did. The movie was a massive success, and cemented Schwarzenegger as someone who could do more than have well-oiled pecs. "It was something people hadn't seen from me before: the shy Arnold, the softer-spoken Arnold, the humorous Arnold," he recalls fondly.
It also allowed him to finally do the sort of action comedies he had loved since being a kid. To this day, his two favorite roles are the very low-body-count Twins and, amazingly, Kindergarten Cop. And to prove that he can still flex his comedy muscles just as well as all the other ones, he's currently working on a sequel to Twins called Triplets, with Eddie Murphy cast as the third brother. So between that and the Constantine sequel, please try to control your hype.
Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for bits cut from this article and other stuff no one should see.E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's due to be released in September. He's practically on his knees begging that you pre order it now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review.
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