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Cold Ham

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"So Johnny finally throws the bitch out as he throws the most over-the-top and yet somehow nonchalant temper tantrum."
The Nostalgia Critic on Tommy Wiseau in The Room

Not all Large Hams have to bellow at the top of their lungs to make their hamminess clear. Enter the Cold Ham, who is both a Large Ham and The Stoic.

These types of characters are quiet, reserved, and may speak in a monotone voice, but they still manage to pull off magnificent feats of overacting. Perhaps they swing between the two modes, at one moment being quiet and the next being outrageous. More commonly, this trope comes about when a character delivers their dialogue in a calm voice while the actual words they speak are typical hammy fare. Dramatic hand gestures and flowery dialogue can help sell the effect.

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In some negative cases this can come about because of bad acting, with the actor attempting to overact but clearly they're just pretending.

Compare Mood-Swinger. See also Dramatic Deadpan, Dull Surprise.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kaoru Seta from BanG Dream! often makes grandiose gestures and her speech is always structured as if she was on the theater stage, all while rarely raising her voice. In a cutscene introducing her as Kokoro tries to recruit her into a new band, Kaoru could've simply said "sure, I can join your band," but she decides to go above and beyond:
    Kaoru: (in a CG where roses line the background while she gets on one knee and reaches a hand out) As the great bard once said, actions speak louder than words... I have been approached by many a scout in my time, but you, my princess... Fufu. You are a strong one.
  • Cells at Work!: Basophil cell speaks in a bombastic and poetic way, but never raises his voice, even when outside organisms are attacking the body.
  • Lucemon from Digimon Frontier. While his speech is rather subdued, what he says is very dramatic. It only serves to emphasize his lack of empathy and self-importance.
  • Seth from the anime of Dinosaur King embodies this, remaining quite stoic in both voice and facial expressions through whatever scene he's in, certainly compared to the other incredibly zany members of the Alpha Gang. And yet he manages to draw every eye with his presence, helped, no doubt, by his brooding and foreboding Leitmotif that plays whenever he appears. Even after he betrays the rest of the Alpha Gang, he maintains his calm demeanour...well, at least until he accomplishes his goal of creating a powerful, mutant dinosaur. Then he transitions into one of the most over-the-top piping hot hams EVER seen...
    Seth: EH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I've done it! I've created my black T.rex! Hahahahaha...EH-HAHAHAHA!!! EH-HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
  • Most of the time, Goku Black from Dragon Ball Super has a calm and soft voice and speech patterns, while at the same time carrying a lot of weight, like his entire monologue after transforming into Super Saiyan Rose is all about how beautiful he has become and how he's at a realm that no mortal can reach, all without him raising his voice much. He also declares to Future Zamasu that he will kill Goku, all with only a slight vocal change. Earlier, when he tells Future Trunks why he's killing humans, he did it with a huge slasher grin and wide-eyed with madness, and his voice didn't raise in volume.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure villains tend to be extremely controlled and stoic, but right below the surface is a truckload of hamminess and eccentricity. DIO in particular tends to be extremely nonchalant over spectacular displays of villainy. On the hero side, Jotaro Kujo's extreme stoic brooding and no-nonsense attitude comes off as theatrical and over the top, whether it's a Dramatic Deadpan or The Comically Serious.
  • Homura Akemi from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, especially with her tendency to appear out of nowhere. Everything she says is as melodramatic as it is deadpan, except in occasional cases of Not So Stoic. By the time The Rebellion Story movies hit, however, Homura goes the Love Makes You Evil way and from then on she embraces her once-restrained inner ham.
  • Seto Kaiba from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series. He's usually stoic with a near-perpetual frown or smirk. When he gets fired up though, he really gets fired up.
    • In a similar vein, Yami Bakura in the 4Kids dub, as well as the first season of the original Japanese run when he was voiced by the late You Inoue, who's generally an unflappable Soft-Spoken Sadist but will eagerly go from a Cold Ham to a Large Ham when he gets the opportunity.
  • Zane from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is even more stoic than Kaiba, rarely ever smiles more than a brief smirk, and doesn't have to be fired up to make a lasting impression.
  • Reiji Akaba from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. Reiji is eternally calm and collected, but when he duels, especially when he summons his D/D/D monsters, his facial expressions and shouts are as hammy as anyone else.

    Film - Animated 
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    Film - Live-Action 
  • Angel Heart: Robert de Niro is obviously having a wonderful time with the role. He remains quite soft-spoken and calm throughout the film, but his enjoyment is just streaming from his body language to the point where any moment you expect him to giggle. When Harry talks about Toots' messy Groin Attack in blunt terms. Louis chastises him for using such language in a church, but he's obviously enjoying the sacrilege.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): Max von Sydow's Ming the Merciless is the hammiest thing in a film that also stars BRIAN BLESSED and Topol, through sheer force of his smirking line delivery.
  • Steven Wright's bored-out-of-his-brains DJ in Reservoir Dogs, as he engages in "hip" antics and colloquialisms like "pop bubblegum ditty" and "keep on...truckin'...."
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off has the professor played by Ben Stein. "Bueller...? Bueller...? Bueller...?"
  • Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While Doom usually shows restraint, he still acts and talks in an overdramatic fashion. Reaches Fridge Brilliance when you find out he's a Toon and it's likely a sign of him failing to control his Evil Is Hammy impulses.
  • Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films almost always talks in a calm, almost monotone voice, and yet his threats and angry outbursts (usually at Harry) are delivered in such a dramatic way. It works at making him extremely creepy.
  • John Malkovich as King Galbatorix in Eragon is the embodiment of this trope, speaking his lines in a wooden monotone while at the same time ridiculously overemphasizing. Every. Word. He. Speaks.
  • In The Room, Tommy Wiseau manages to overreact and underreact simultaneously. It's especially noticeable when he's trashing his house, throwing things around and screaming in pain while still putting no emotion into the actual dialogue.
  • In the 1993 movie by Mike Binder, Indian Summer, Sam Raimi is this. There is a large scene of him doing nothing but sitting and watching a moose. When the moose finally goes away, so does Raimi, but magically everything in the forest seems to be chewed as he goes...
  • Star Wars:
    • Before the reveal of Sidious's identity, he delivers his messages to the Trade Federation/Separatists in an impassive, chilled, yet dramatic manner, keeping things foreboding until his victory in Revenge lets him be open with cackling and villainy.
    • When Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, Hayden Christensen maintains his stilted line delivery, but now delivers those lines in an over-the-top intimidating manner, often shouting at the top of his lungs.
    • Kylo Ren, on the other hand, could be as hammy as Vader given he even has the same get-up, but instead employs Anakin's intimidating delivery and only lets loose when throwing angry fits.
  • Balem in Jupiter Ascending (played by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne) mostly operates with this, punctuated with occasional Big Word Shouts and a Villainous Breakdown... with shouting.
  • Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider Man 2 seems to be written for a hammier actor, but Dane DeHaan plays the role with more restraint than is strictly necessary. This changes when he becomes the Green Goblin, of course, because in any incarnation the Goblin is a textbook Large Ham.
  • Same thing with Norman Osborn in Spider-Man Trilogy, Willem Dafoe plays Norman as incredibly composed yet dramatic but as Green Goblin Chews every bit of Scenery he can get his hands on.
  • Michael Keaton, who knows how to get loose, doesn't go full supervillain as The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, who mostly employs a threatening but calm tone. The most he hams against Spider-Man are evil smirks in their talk in the car. Still, there are some opportunities for him to shout and enjoy himself while he compliments and\or berates his gang members.
  • Damodar from the Dungeons & Dragons movie speaks and moves very stoically with long dramatic pauses in the middle of sentences, yet puts an emphasis on everything he does that just screams "ham". Quite a contrast to Profion's straightforward scenery chewing.
  • In the first two The Hunger Games films, President Snow was The Stoic, and generally spoke very calmly in his interactions with Katniss. When he speaks to Katniss in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, he is much more openly evil, with a continuous Psychotic Smirk that borders on Slasher Smile, and he is clearly letting himself enjoy toying with her. Despite this, though, his voice remains soft, and his courtesy remains constant.
  • Vincent Price usually served his ham steaming hot, but in The Abominable Dr. Phibes his face is nearly immobile due to it being a mask over his real burned face. And he's still hammy.
  • Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom in the Fantastic Four reboot becomes this after he's transformed by Planet Zero. Even with his attempt at Creepy Monotone, the line "There is no Victor, only Doom" is still dripping with ham.
  • Pinhead from the first two Hellraiser films. While he remains stone-faced and deadpan, he comes off as rather dramatic.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness mostly speaks in a Creepy Monotone, with rare outbursts of rage (along with the occasional mugging). Given the character is Khan, the opposite of how Ricardo Montalban's hammed the role for all it was worth.
  • Elizabeth Banks is enjoying herself profusely as Rita Repulsa in Power Rangers, but still fits the trope because unlike the original Rita, who had No Indoor Voice and was constantly shrieking, Banks at least tries to speak quietly when necessary to convey how the character is a scary villain now.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel has Zod as a hot-and-cold running ham. His quiet lines put emphasis on specific words, giving them as much of a dramatic flair as his loud ones.
    • The Big Bad of Suicide Squad (2016) is Enchantress. The lines are overtly dramatic as expected from a villain, but not delivered with full force given Cara Delevigne's Dull Surprise.
  • Anjelica Houston as Morticia in The Addams Family and its sequel - she's serene, calm, and the only thing that gets her to alter the pitch of her voice at all is Gomez. This does not stop her from being a tour de force that complements Raul Julia's significantly more exuberant performance perfectly. Witness in the opening of the sequel, where a simple "Oui" from her wrings out enough characterization to show her Too Kinky to Torture, Happily Married, and The Stoic all while keeping up with Gomez's frantic attention.
  • Agent Smith of The Matrix utilized this trope frequently; for many fans, it is no longer possible to read the words "Mister Anderson" without hearing the voice of Hugo Weaving.
  • Black Beard /Edward Teach from the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. He manages to have great dramatic gravitas while being reserved, serving as a nice fusion of Large Ham villains Barbossa & Davy Jones and Soft-Spoken Sadist Big Bad Cutler Beckett.
    • The fifth movie has Javier Bardem as an undead pirate hunter. He's deep voiced and intense in his hatred, but never goes full ham.
  • Pennywise in It (2017) - to explain how the Monster Clown is portrayed, Tim Curry in the 1990 adaptation focused on the second word with his Chewing the Scenery performance, but Bill Skarsgard certainly wants to be the former with a more contained and scarier performance (while still keeping the Black Comedy and overwrought speech one would expect from a clown that wants to scare children ).
  • Niander Wallace from Blade Runner 2049. While he never shouts or flails about, he is prone to long and self-important monologues full of religious metaphors and the most cartoonishly evil lines.
  • In the John Wick films, Keanu Reeves' portrayal of the titular character rarely, if ever, has him raise his voice. However, nearly every line he delivers is filled with intense, quiet, and barely contained rage that only occasionally slips out.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter
    • Snape is described as speaking in barely a whisper, but he nevertheless comes off as melodramatic.
    • McGonagall also qualifies. While she's usually calm and collected, she nevertheless finds numerous ways to be the center of attention, as shown by her obvious enjoyment of startling new students by suddenly transforming from a cat back into a human.
    • Incidentally, both professors are stated in the book as being able to hold the attention of a room full of students effortlessly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Captain Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is normally very stoic and dignified (to the point of being Comically Serious), but his formal and serious way of expressing himself gives everything he says extra dramatic gravitas. And he does have, in his own words, a "flair for the dramatic."
  • Leonard Snart in The Flash (2014), when not really enjoying himself in the persona of Captain Cold.
  • Sutekh the Destroyer, from the Doctor Who episode "Pyramids of Mars", manages to out-ham Tom Baker without ever raising his voice above a malevolent whisper.
  • The Replicator/ John Curtis from Criminal Minds. While cold, stoic and reserved, it does nothing to mask his arrogance and sinister nature.
  • Sylar from Heroes sometimes indulged himself in overacting ("MY NAME IS SYLAR!" and "I'm back" come to mind), but mostly went for a dramatic but understated delivery.
  • Vypra from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue is the inept variety. She's obviously trying to overact, but never manages to pull it off.
  • Both Helena and Rachel Duncan from Orphan Black. The two of them speak in a very subdued, yet theatrical manner. Helena usually combines sarcasm with loud animal noises and Rachel makes very extreme death threats with a complete poker face.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jaquen H'ghar speaks in a very theatrical, yet subdued manner. Combined with his very unusual speech pattern, this makes him stand out among other characters in the show.
    • Aeron Greyjoy tends to speak in a very cold and stable tone of voice, but his Badass Baritone combined with his resonating speeches about the drowned god make him a very over-the-top man.
  • Cat Grant from Supergirl (2015). She loves delivering her lines in a "theatrically subdued" manner. Unless she's calling someone, that is.
  • Warden Ackerman from Red Dwarf. He's quite dramatic, if calm when giving his intake speech to new prisoners.
  • Alexander Sweet aka Dracula from Penny Dreadful. As the final Big Bad of the series, he balances a stoic and reserved demeanour with a dramatic gravitas.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has the Borg, who speak in a dry monotone, even when informing you of your impending doom. Bonus point for speaking in a multitude of voices in perfect unison.
  • In Once Upon a Time, while in his Dark One form Mr Gold/Rumpelstiltskin acts like a normal Large Ham. But in his human form he's a lot more restraint but his words have no less emphasis.
  • Avon in Blake's 7 swings between this and Large Ham. Normally though he's the cold-blooded, snarky computer expert.
  • Alpha in The Walking Dead, the main antagonist of the show in season 9. Like Negan before her, she's a dramatic showman. Unlike Negan before her, she speaks in whispers and contains herself when she walks around.
  • Mr. World from American Gods (2017) possesses a Large Ham personality that is delivered chillingly through his stiff movements and the fact that he speaks only in whispers, the echo-effect his voice makes and his bombastic dialogue accentuating the over-the-topness of his personality.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Undertaker would make dramatic pronouncements about burying his opponents and taking their souls in a deep monotone voice. For balance, he'd often have his manager Paul Bearer there to provide the regular sort of ham.

    Video Games 
  • Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII and related media plays at this in his various appearances, delivering dramatic taunts while keeping a controlled voice. For example, when performing his EX Burst in Dissidia Final Fantasy, his quote for the attack is "I bring you despair. Ruination to all," with him barely raising his voice.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Xemnas is a Trope Codifier, delivering sweeping hand gestures and dramatic speeches with a monotone voice. The reason is he's the Nobody of Xehanort, and thus while Xemnas has no heart he retains his original self's personality traits and memories; Xehanort was a typical Large Ham, so Xemnas emulates his past self's behaviors but without putting any emotion into them.
    • Marluxia and the Unknown are also prone to using flowery language without emoting much, if at all. Whereas the former is The Stoic due to also being a Nobody, beings who are purported to be unable to feel actual emotions and thus fake it, the latter's case is far more complicated: He is the time-displaced younger self of Xehanort's original incarnation, enlisted by his various alter-egos to traverse time and space in order to further their plans, which in turn set up a Stable Time Loop spanning to the present day wherein Xehanort is responsible for his own Start of Darkness. The rules of time travel state one cannot change events meant to happen, so Young Xehanort believes that, even if he did know the full extent of what he was getting himself into, he'd have no say in the matter. As such, and because he'll lose the memories of what he's witnessed upon returning to his time, this Xehanort has little reason to be invested in his mission, making him a surprisingly impersonal adversary to the heroes.
    • Speaking of Xehanort, the original Master Xehanort (as voiced by Rutger Hauer) in the English dub of Kingdom Hearts III is far more soft-spoken and calmer than in previous games, where Leonard Nimoy embraced the ham as Xehanort. However, Xehanort is still prone to theatrical speeches and gestures.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening features Arkham, who is notable for his frequent monologues, of which most are done in a calm, collected manner, with the exception of the reveal of his plan at the end of Mission 13.
    • Vergil is a badass swordsman who can talk just as much trash as his twin brother, all in a cool, calm tone that just oozes with pride. Some of his taunts are the most iconic in the franchise's history.
  • Baldur's Gate II: The villain Jon Irenicus delivers his dramatic lines (a good example of his diction is "Silence, dog. You have no purpose but to die by my hand") in a cold, flat voice. It's quite justified, as he's literally soulless.
  • In Mass Effect, Sovereign/Nazara indulges in this during The Reveal, every word dripping with icy, hammy contempt for the galaxy and its young civilizations. It's later shown to be a trait of all his kind.
    You cannot escape your doom. Your words are as empty as your future. I am the vanguard of your destruction. This exchange is over.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, Scarecrow's low-pitched monotone is quite slow and soft, yet his choice of words has all the over-the-topness you'd expect from a comic villain, emphasizing just how disturbing he has become:
    "Remnants of Gotham: I have messages for you all. To the vandals who stayed behind to pick the still-warm flesh from Gotham's bones: have your fun. You are under my protection. To the cowards quaking behind the police department's walls: you will not be spared. And to Batman: I have already won. Emptied your city with a vial of toxin and a few threatening words. That's how little the safety you provided was worth. And when the dawn comes, when Gotham lies in ruins and I turn my gaze to the world beyond, the legend of the Batman will be worth nothing at all."
  • Dawn of War, already a World of Ham, has the Chaos Sorcerer Sindri Myr go for this. Most of his lines are delivered in a slow, condescending whisper instead of the top-of-the-lungs screaming of most of Chaos, but he devours the scenery with his ham-tastic dialogue, only occasionally raising his voice for emphasis.
    Do not die too easily. I want you to... suffer.
  • Dawn of War 2: Retribution has Spookums, an ork Kommando who is much more restrained than his comrades... and doesn't come across as any less hammier.
    Killin' other orks iz just so... pedestrian.
    It ain't like I can hides in da lava! Mork knows I ain't tryin' dat trick again!
  • Because of its infamously bad voice acting, everyone in the English translation of Shining Force III comes off this way, saying melodramatic battle quips as though they just got out of bed. The literally cold Noon is just one example:
    Now bear my arctic blast!
  • Fallout: New Vegas: While most Nightkins are straight up Large Ham, God in Dead Money speaks for the most part in a calm but dominating manner. This is best shown the first time you speak to him in the Police Station, giving you a long speech about the situation and what he is.
    • Ulysses, from Lonesome Road, delivers long, grandiloquent and florid speeches to you as you traverse The Divide, his voice is deep and throaty and dripping with contempt for you, yet he never raises his voice.
  • In Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Big Bad of the sequel Zonda is revealed to be this, in stark contrast to their exuberant, flamboyant, and over-the-top personality in the first game. It turns out that she was simply hiding her true nature from even her superiors so she could enact her own plans and went so far as to fabricate a new personality and appearance (dubbed "Sumeragi" Zonda) to really sell her deception. "True" Zonda, in contrast, is almost eerily calm and serene, yet her words are just as theatrical and eloquent as she goes on speeches about love. Strangely, even after The Reveal they keep switching between Cold Ham and Large Ham depending on which form they're in, for seemingly no other reason than to get under Gunvolt and Copen's skins.
  • YHVH, i.e. God in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse isn't as shouty as his Shin Megami Tensei II incarnation, but manages to carry that air of malevolent tyranny with his elderly echoing voice. Though he straight up goes into loud hammy mode once he enters his second form.
    "So you've come. Poor, poor son of man, led astray by demonkind. I am YHVH. I am that I am. I am infinity. The Supreme Being. The embodiment of law and order. You disturb my realm, trample my design?"
  • Headmaster Hayden Montag of The Secret World speaks in an eerily serene monotone, rarely expresses any sort of emotion, and seems almost preternaturally calm in the face of the chaos descending upon Innsmouth Academy... and yet his choice of words and his propensity to wax rhapsodic on the macabre give the impression that he's somehow taking bigger bites out of the scenery than the local monsters.
  • Wesker in the Resident Evil games never raises his voice unless he is letting out an Evil Laugh and he never loses his cool. By Resident Evil 5, he's completely stoic and focused to the point where he completely ignores Excella's advances towards him. Once Wesker gets injected with a serum by Chris, that's when he starts raving and ranting head first into Large Ham while Chewing the Scenery.
  • Father Theodore of The Evil Within 2 is very intense, focused and theatrical in his speech, but never raises his voice at all, not even after realizing, much to his horror, that his psychological manipulations won't work on Sebastian anymore.
  • Sonic Forces: Infinite, the Reality Warper sadist with a god complex speaks in a calm, gruff voice, yet still manages to come off as very cocky.
    Infinite: You may call me 'Infinite', for the brief moments that remain to you.
  • Far Cry 5 has one of its secondary villains: Jacob Seed, as one. He barely speaks above a whisper, but every sentence is full of his grand The Social Darwinist philosophy.
  • Most awakening scenes in Persona 5 are triggered by extreme anger, with a generous helping of shouting and a painful scream as the new party member bloodily rips off their mask. Yusuke, on the other hand, rips his mask off with a flourish and opts for flowery lines delivered in Tranquil Fury.
    A breathtaking sight. Imitations they may be, but together they make a fine spectacle. Though the flowers of evil blossom, be it known: abominations are fated to perish!
  • World of Warcraft: C'thun is much more subdued and brief in his speech patterns than his fellow Old Gods, but his simple statement of "You. Will. Die." carries just as much power as any outburst from Yogg-Saron. Y'shaarj is quiet and hammy as well, but not to the same extent as C'thun.
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    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Jasmine shows signs of this. She has a bit of a braggy and sassy side to her, yet somehow keeps an almost stoic tone the entire time. For example, in her fight with Ahjeen in 'An Unofficial Tournament'.
    Jasmine: More of that and you'll freeze and kill me.
    Ahjeen: No, I wont kill you, but I can't guarantee the first part!
    (Ahjeen freezes Jasmine in her own twister, and after a moment, slashes of wind shatter the twister)
    Jasmine: I can guarantee the first part for you.

    Web Video 
  • World War II: Host Indy Neidell's usual style of presenting is reserved, as befits the subject of a documentary about the war, but sharply and clearly enunciated, almost like a sober, yet enthusiastic news broadcast. The Talking Heads segments of Indy at his desk are punctuated by flourishes and gesticulation. It might have developed from his background in advertising and performing as a musician.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 

 
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