Quotes: Playing Against Type

Drama is easy, Comedy is hard.
Joss Whedon on his habbit to cast comedians in dramatic roles

Logan had directed the original Mr. Roberts, and was also coauthor of the script.... I told him I'd had an offer to do the play in Fort Lee. 'Well,' he said, 'you were one of the best Ensign Pulvers I ever saw.'

'No,' I said. "'They want me to play Roberts.'

He went stone-faced. 'Oh,' he said, and left for his own table. I was destroyed. About fifteen minutes later, he reappeared. 'Why would Mr. Roberts have to come from Nebraska?' he demanded. "Why couldn't he come from the Bronx? You do it, you play it.'
Alan King on Josh Logan, Name Dropping

It's a nice contrast to what I do on L.A. Law because Benny is like the the world's nicest guy, and Robert G. Durant is like the world's worst guy. He dresses well, and speaks well, and does awful things.
Larry Drake on his role in Darkman

For most of my acting career before Riker, I played really despicable human beings: drug dealers and father-killers and henpecked husbands and browbeaten weaklings and spineless characters and villains and—characters you wouldn't aspire to be as a person. So, being cast as Riker was very odd for me as an actor.
Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek: The Next Generation featurette

The Undiscovered Country is a movie about confronting that earlier racism and prejudice. It’s no coincidence that the two most obviously racially-charged lines in the film were supposed to be delivered by African-American characters. It’s hardly subtle, but it is very effective. Brock Peters plays Admiral Cartwright, a supporting character returning from The Voyage Home, who finds himself advocating that the Federation should take advantage of their enemy’s weakness...Peters’ most famous screen role remains the part of Tom in the 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, a film in which he played the victim of prejudice.

John Goodman has the zestier role. Like Turturro, he's worked with the Coens before (Raising Arizona)...Most of his line readings are a bit stiff, and after a while I realized it was by design: Charlie the salesman talks without believing what he's saying — they're just words. Goodman brings weight to the movie, and not just physical. He shows you the terrified emptiness behind Charlie's joviality. And in the end, when he cuts loose, he's as touching as he is frightening; I can't think of another actor who could have brought off the apocalyptic finale without looking ridiculous. Working with the Coens must unleash something primeval in this teddy-bear comedian.
Rob Gonsalves on Barton Fink

Looking back on series one is interesting in the light of Christopher Eccleston’s comments after he finished playing the role. What seemed like a confident performance at the time (and compared to David Tennant’s self-assured portrayal) now seems…awkward in his opening adventure. Eccleston reminds me of Sylvester McCoy (bear with me) in that he looks very stiff and embarrassed when asked to perform something that plays against his natural personality. The shows I can remember Eccleston playing roles in are Cracker and Heroes, and in both of those he was an arsehole, and he also had memorably dark turns in The Second Coming and Shallow Grave. Clearly he enjoys playing shadowy characters, and shoehorning him into playing the Doctor is fine when he gets to dig under the surface and see what makes him tick, but when asked to crack jokes and lighten the mood he isn't really in comfortable territory. But that's fine, it's good for an actor to play against type and by the end of the season (and despite the fact that he has given up on the role), Eccleston had completely embraced all aspects of the Doctor's personality and was clearly having a great deal of fun with him.

Earlier this month, Ice-T spent two days recording the audiobook version of a new Dungeons & Dragons novel, because the casting director of said audiobook is one of the greatest heroes in American history. Ice-T was thoroughly baffled by the experience, claiming "Dungeons & Dragons is some of the most crazy, deep, deep, deep nerd shit ever invented... this shit is impossible to read." You could print whatever combination of numbers you wanted on the price tag for this audiobook, and it would still be a pittance in exchange for the privilege of hearing Ice-T angrily narrate the exploits of a bunch of lute faeries and goblin chancellors.

Reeve was seemingly heaven sent, an actor who differentiated Clark Kent and Superman so convincingly that you almost believed no one would notice they had the same face. Just as importantly, he conveyed Superman’s sheer boy scout goodness without making him in any way sappy. He even wore the suit without looking laughable. Some argued against the initially scrawny actor, but the Salkinds figured it was easier to bulk up the right actor than to teach a guy with muscles to act. They were right.

Also, it seems likely that they thought an unknown would help keep the skyrocketing budget down. Considering that nearly every ‘name’ in Hollywood, from Robert Redford and Warren Beatty to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Jenner and Sylvester Stallone (!) were considered during the long casting process, the casting of Reeve seems tantamount to an act of divine intervention by the Movie Gods.
Jabootu on Superman

It certainly is an uncharacteristic movie for Ray Liotta. I can’t say I’ve seen too many ‘action sci-fi thrillers’ in the career of ol’ Ray. To my surprise though he actually does a pretty good job. I think the key is the fact that for the longest time he plays more a dark anti hero...you aren’t quite sure of his motivations.
Miles Antwiler on No Escape (1994)

David: Literally everybody in this movie is comically shorter than Shaq. He looks like Hodor or Hagrid or something. Like a man with giant’s blood in a regular world. But he totally plays himself as a regular, put-upon dude.
Chris: And when he goes back to the old neighborhood after he quits the military, there’s a joke about how he actually sucks at basketball! Get it? Because in real life Shaquille O’Neal is very good at basketball?
David: I dunno, all I know about Shaquille O’Neal playing basketball, I learned from him being literally on fire in the middle of NBA Jam.
—Chris Sims and David Uzumeri on Steel (1997)

This role is going to be truly transformative for John Travolta. He’ll have to shave off that naturally grown, naturally luscious, all-natural hair on his head to play a mostly balding Robert Shapiro. He can use the scraps for his eyebrows. I thought American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson was going to be a serious drama, but now that Ryan Murphy and John Travolta have joined forces for it, you can expect a whole lot of THEATER and many musical numbers. John Travolta will clinch the Emmy when he sings 'It Wasn’t Him' to the tune of Shaggy’s 'It Wasn’t Me' in the courtroom with The Dancing Itos.
Michael K., "John Travolta Is Robert Shapiro In Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story"