3 Actors Far Better than their Roles

December 7, 2012 8:00 pm

There’s something gratifying about seeing a great actor in a well-written role. They have so much control over their surroundings and they seem to take you with them as they lose themselves in a role. However, there have been times, when I’ve been watching a film with a well-accomplished actor and they are given a role far below them. You can see them trying to convey a powerful performance across to their audience, but the restrictions the script and character have given them make this near impossible. Below are three examples from 2012 of this (these examples may contain spoilers). Feel free to argue or give more examples in the comment below.


I am never going to like chick flicks. I find them repetitive with the story not getting much further than ‘can the couple survive?’ or ‘can there be a couple in the first place?’ However, I am sure that chick flicks fans probably have a similar opinion of the action films I like, so I, for the most part, ignore the genre. I must admit, as far as chick-flicks go, the Five-Year Engagement is enjoyable. The characters feel more real and relatable than the average flick and there are some great moments in the movie (see Jason Segel faking a male orgasm – priceless).

Emily Blunt plays the female half of the couple and she does a good job. She rarely falls back on female stereotypes to create her character and shows a comedic side that I haven’t seen since her breakthrough film, The Devil Wears Prada. However, the film ruins this streak with several ‘posh, English girl in America’ gags. Some of them are cringe-worthy. Simply put, Emily Blunt is far too good an actress to play the lead female in a chick flick.


Vera Farmiga plays one of the several CIA officers stuck behind a desk in Safe House. Either her or one of her co-workers are the villain and her role is not much more than a guessing game of who is the traitor. There is nothing wrong with an actor taking a sideline role to a film every now and again. My problem here is that there are too many similarities to this and one of her other recent films: Source Code. It just seems a waste of her talent to be the straight-faced officer pacing around a boardroom twice in such a short space of  time.


Gemma Arterton really needs to be getting better roles. Readers may know her from horrible movies like Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans. Go back even further and you’ll recognise her briefly as the English tart in films like The Boat that Rocked and Rock n Rolla. In Prince of Persia, she plays a whiny princess and in Clash of Titans, although her character is wise, she barely moves the plot along. Even in Quantum of Solace, her Bond girl doesn’t really get a chance to show the audience her skills.

I can see why she is getting these roles. She is pretty and has the kind of English accent that Hollywood thinks all English people have. She fits the bill perfectly for British eye candy. And it is not the actress’ fault. In several of her interviews, she often admits how frustrating her two-dimensional roles are. However, if she stopped accepting them, she is out of work. Luckily there is a bright light. In 2013, Gemma Arterton has bagged two great roles in Byzantium and Hansel and Gretal. I am hoping this will be the turning point in her career.

OK, now I have finished this article, it is hard not to notice that all of my examples are female. This was not meant to be a feminist argument, but it is hard to ignore the evidence. Women simply aren’t getting good enough roles in cinema and the audience suffers from this. We miss out on what could potentially be performances of a life time.

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