Very recently I started thinking about some actors that I consider to be under-rated and underutilised. Whilst some actors seem to go years and years without a decent performance and still get roles in big films, it started frustrating me that there are some amazing actors out that that usually play second fiddle in the movies that they are in, even if they happen to be the best thing about said film.
So I decided to compile a list of my favourite actors that I believe fall into this category. It was originally going to be a list of five but I really struggled to think of a fifth and so have stuck to a list of four actors. The reason that I decided not to have five is because if I can only think of four, even after looking at a list of a supposedly underrated actors on the internet, is that anything other than the four I have selected would be nothing more than filler.
I have previously written a few lists, namely my Top 20 films list, where I didn’t actually have a Top 20 and so at least two or three of the films on there were filler, and it felt like I was wasting my time trying to praise films that I liked, but not even to put them onto a list of my favourite films.
So anyway, here is my list of three actors that I think deserve more spotlight due to their performances in previous films.
Best Known For : 300, Che, I Love You Phillip Morris, Focus and Love Actually
I first became aware of Santoro in his ill-fated stint as Paulo in the hit TV show “Lost”. His spell on that show was not deemed successful through no fault of his own as Santoro and Kiele Sanchez portrayed characters that the fans not only didn’t welcome with open arms, but widely shunned entirely. There were many reasons for this, with the main one being that it was obvious that the writers were trying to simply force new major characters on us as if they should have been there from the beginning and are apparently major parts of the camp of survivors, even though they’d never been seen before. The pair were quickly killed off but brought Santoro to a much wider audience outside of his native Brazil.
Santoro had had previous success with films such as Love Actually and Charlies Angels 2, neither of which I have seen for the record, but his arguable big break came when he portrayed Xerxes in 300. 300 was a breakout film for most of the actors involved (and Santoro isn’t the only actor from that film in this list) and it propelled cast members such as Gerard Butler from obscurity into the mainstream. Since then Santoro has accepted mainly secondary roles in many films, including a charming portrayal of Jim Carrey’s AIDs infected former lover in “I Love You Phillip Morris”, a corrupt race car owner in Focus and an upcoming role in “The 33”, a story about the Chilean miners that were trapped underground in 2010.
There is something uniquely intriguing about this Brazilian actor and the reason I rate him so highly is that whenever I see his name in the opening credits, especially if I didn’t know that he was in the film before hand, I get a sense of excitement as he could be playing any type of character. He is incredibly versitile, and also so incredibly convincing in in.
I’ve been re-watching “Focus” recently, which is probably going to be top of my rankings of mainstream films at the end of the year, and in that he plays a relatively small part, but the part is so diverse because it shows so many different dimensions to the same person. The character’s screen time across the film is probably only ten minutes in total, but it is such a wonderfully diverse role. When we first see his character, he is exceptionally chilled out and laid back, before then moving onto over-confident and arrogant, right through to threatening in the final scenes. He is probably the closest thing that “Focus” has for a main antagonist, and his performance may not be lengthy, but it is excellently executed and that is why I love watching Santoro.
Best Known For : 300, Troy and Clash of the Titans
Need an actor who can play great secondary characters in films based on Greek myth and legend? Vince Regan is your guy. Regan hasn’t appeared in many mainstream films outside of his own personal Greek trilogy, and the only other time I have seen him is as the main antagonist in Guy Pearce’s Lockdown, but he wasn’t best suited for that role as it didn’t play to his strengths.
Vince is very much suited to the role of a middle-aged man in some sort of authority. For example, he was second in command of the Myrmidons in “Troy”, the captain in command of Leonida’s “personal escort” in “300” and although a considerably smaller role, he was promoted to the role of King in the CGI-fest that was “Clash of the Titans”. However, without having seen him in any films other than the four I’ve mentioned in this little section, I really feel the need to watch some more of what he as been in because I am convinced that he would give a rousing performance.
My reason for thinking this is based on one scene in particular in “300”. Regan’s performance in 300 as Artemis is a fine example of this actor’s capabilities to make you feel a variety of different emotions in such a short space of time. One scene in particular sees the character’s son killed and within seconds he goes from a proud father through to anguish, all via a furious volley of anger towards those that has just killed off someone who he had previously described as replaceable.
Best Known For : 30 Days of Night, X-Men 3, 3:10 to Yuma and Pandorum
Ben Foster may not be a name that you’ll recognise, but he is certainly an actor that you remember when you’ve watched him in a main role within a film. He first arguably came to mainstream attention in X-Men 3, playing arguably his least interesting character, but since then he has portrayed a varied array of characters, but all have a certain level of mystery and intensity to them that makes Foster an incredible actor to watch.
He played a man who wants to be a vampire in “30 Days of Night”, an abandoned astronaut in “Pandorum” and a practically insane man in desperate search for his brother in the marvelous “Alpha Dog”. What you get with Foster is a guaranteed immersion into characters that are vulnerable and often bordering on sociopathic.
The aforementioned performance in “Alpha Dog” resulted in one of the best telephone conversions in movie history as his character threatens the man he believes has kidnapped his brother. Foster is both sympathetic and overwhelmingly menacing in the scene, and the best part about it is that you forget that his character is the protagonist in the conversation. His anger is justified and delivered in such an intense way that even now, 2 years after I last watched the film, that call is still fixed in my memory as one of those scenes where you get genuine goosebumps from the performance.
Known For : The Hunt, Valhalla Rising, Casino Royale and Clash of the Titans
My final actor in that list is one who I believe is the best actor out of the four, and that is by no means meant with any disrespect to the other three, however, I am convinced that Mads Mikkelsen is a man that is destined for much bigger and better things than what he has previously been in.
Let’s start with some Oscar worthy performances in films such as The Hunt. The Hunt is a film that I couldn’t laud more about if I wanted to. Mikkelsen is just divine as in an emotionally charged film that it’s almost impossible not to have an opinion about once you’ve seen it. The Hunt is a marvelous work of cinema and one of the main reasons for that is Mikkelsen’s engaging and engrossing performance as Lucas.
Mikkelsen has found limited main stream success already, with roles as a general in “Clash of the Titans” and the villain in Craig Daniel’s first out as Bond in “Casino Royale”, but he has also experienced some success on the small screen as he took up the mantle of Hannibal Lecter. Mikkelsen, whilst highly capable of playing protagonists, is scintillatingly captivating as an antagonist. One of the main reasons is that he can perfectly capture that “moody prick” aspect of a character so well, such as his aforementioned role as the general in “Clash of the Titans”, a role in which his character refuses to show any positive emotions until he has effectively given two fingers to the Gods.
I’m not sure Mikkelsen is even capable of putting in a bad performance and you will see from the below clip just how brilliant and praise-worthy he is. For some context, Mikkelsen’s character has been accused of sexually abusing the daughter of his best friend (the man he starts attacking in the scene). Seriously, watch The Hunt, it is one of the most powerful films that I have ever seen and whilst I love that is was nominated for “Best Foreign Film” at the Oscars a few years ago, it should have been nominated for the top prize of “Best Film”, it’s that good.