Thor Latham

The lines we draw between character and actor

Jun 14 // Thor Latham
First off, you'll have to forgive my excess use of comic book movies as examples, but the simple fact is they illustrate the correlation better than most films. If nothing else, feel free to participate with your own suggestions and examples down in the comments. All discussions are welcome. In the modern age of Hollywood and its vapid deluge of regurgitated ideas the go-to game plan has been to adapt/reboot already established IP wantonly in the hope that all movie execs will one day be able to swim in vaults filled with money rivaling that of Scrooge McDuck. The most success has been found thus far with comic book adaptations, but there's been no shortage at attempting to adapt literature (The Great Gatsby), television shows (21 Jump Street), and even toys (Transformers). Really, anything is ripe for the silver screen as long as some profit is seen to be made, but I digress. The point to be made here is that when adapting from an already established property, our perceptions of the characters involved are going to be challenged, or at best, will evolve. It often comes to be that we develop expectations in regards to a role because we possess some foreknowledge of the character involved and/or the actor that is to portray them. Case in point: I love Batman. Period. I've read the comics and have seen all of the films and will continue to do so for as long as they are produced. This willingness to endure Batman's storied legacy is because of my attachment to the character itself, because of my fondness for Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. This, of course, has led to me having my face spit in on occasion, particularly by the likes of Joel Schumaker and his cohorts George Clooney and Val Kilmer…but especially George Clooney. Now, Clooney is a respectable actor, even an actor I like, but it was pretty obvious what we were getting when he donned the cape and cowl (and plastic nipples) was just George Clooney in an eroticized Batman outfit. The character and its history did not inform his performance, and the same can be said for everyone else involved in those godforsaken films. On the opposing end of the spectrum we have Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan’s take on the caped crusader. Bale was not only an excellent Dark Knight, but more importantly, was an excellent Bruce Wayne. His performance embodied the Wayne’s motivations: his struggle with his loss, his identity, and his morality. Consequently I associate Bale with the Batman of the film universe, and probably will for some time to come. Bale’s performance was rooted in the established canon of the character and his world, and was the better for it. I’m a bit biased when it comes to Batman, however, so why don’t we examine another character that has changed faces many times over the decades while keeping the heart of the role intact. As the longest running film franchise in cinema history, the exploits and persona of James Bond of her Majesty’s Secret Service have been adopted by several performers, and while I’m no Matt Razak when it comes to 007, I think it’s fair to say many of those same actors owe their notoriety to the character, including the most recent addition of Daniel Craig. So here we have a case similar to that of Batman, wherein the character of James Bond had long since been established before coming to film through Ian Flemming’s novels, but whose popularity has attained new heights in the time since the transition. The difference, however, is that each actor that has played Bond has made the role his own in some fashion or another. Thus, we usually don’t associate any one actor with the 007 so much as associate all of the actors with the character. Another good example of this situation would be television’s Doctor Who, where the good Doctor is currently in his eleventh incarnation, yet the core of the character has remained intact throughout his career while different actors still bring something unique to the role. Of course this is all well and good, but these aren’t particularly novel conclusions I’m drawing, and I’m sure the thought has crossed several minds. The case I want to reference specifically, though, is that of Robert Downy Jr. and his possible, but highly unlikely departure from the Marvel universe. There’s no arguing that Iron Man was and continues to be one of Marvel’s most popular characters, but it wasn’t until RDJ put on the armor that the character of Tony Stark really crystallized in the mind of the general public, many of who had never had any notion of the billionaire playboy. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man for most people, and if you need proof here it is. His performance defined the character on a whole new level, which can arguably be credited to him being the first on film Iron Man, but there’s no doubt he completely captured the essence of the character while also making it his own, perhaps to such a degree that anyone else that follows in his iron clad footsteps has a serious uphill climb ahead of them. His is a rare case where the character and the actor are almost synonymous, at least for the average movie goer. There really is no end to this thought process, as it can be applied to most any performance in film. Characters in movies are the amalgamation of the input of several individuals, so it’s possible to say that they are always pre-established to some degree, at least in the mind of someone at some place in some time. The point of this little diatribe, I suppose, was only to try to conceptualize a notion that is but one tiny facet of what we digest from film watching as an audience. Nerdy references aside, I think part of the joy of watching these performances is trying to find the line where the character begins and the actor ends, and ultimately isn’t that the very essence of performance?  
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An essay from your resident Flix-ologist
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Thor Trailer photo
Phase 2 continues...
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"It's Electro, @#%$!!"
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New behind the scenes pic from X-Men: Days of Future Past


Tweeted by Bryan Singer
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Trailer: Only God Forgives (Red Band)


"Wanna fight?"
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Because money
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I should probably read the comic
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Trailer: Pain & Gain (Red Band)


Muscles abound
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Robert Redford may join cast of Captain America sequel


The Hollywood legend looking at blockbusters
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Classics from a master
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Veronica Mars creator planning production documentary


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Ben Kingsly is looking mad pimp
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Hansel & Gretel sequel already in the works


Maybe they can nab Rush for the soundtrack
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Trailer: Oblivion


Not of the Elder Scrolls variety
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// Thor Latham
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David O. Russell's next film slated for December release


It is as of yet unnamed
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Trailer: Short Peace (Japanese)


From the creator of Akira
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New clip from The Place Beyond The Pines


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Mar 11
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Trailer: Monsters University (Japanese)


Tons of new footage!
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Flixist Awards 2012: Most Underrated

Mar 05 // Thor Latham
From the ashes of the Sly Stone abomination from the nineties a beautiful phoenix has arisen, and its name is Dredd. To be fair, this film has nothing to do with the previous attempt to adapt the hard-edged Judge for the big screen, which is a credit to its quality because it stands alone beautifully. There's no convoluted story, or some absurd conspiracy. It's about a day in the life of Judge Dredd (played unflinchingly by Karl Urban) and his cadet (the lovely Olivia Thirlby) as they find themselves at odds with a drug kingpin named 'Ma-Ma' (Lena Headey). What unfolds is action that is so unnecessarily gory that it borders on the obscene...and it's f*cking awesome. Everyone moment of it. Why do we feel it's underrated? Well, action movies are supposed to have universal appeal, and it seems reasonable to think that a lot of people probably made the assumption that this was just going to be sent out to die as some quick cash grab, so there;s no doubt that there are plenty of people who missed out on something special. If your a fan of straight forward action and bad-ass comic book characters, it doesn't really get any better than this. Movies rarely come this slick and trimmed, with all the fat cut away, leaving only 100% Grade A entertainment. Buy it, borrow it, whatever, just watch it and please spread the word so we can get some more delicious Dredd sometime in the near future. The Cabin in the Woods The Man with the Iron Fists Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Prometheus
Most Underrated photo
Everyone loves an underdog
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Flixist Awards 2012: Best 'OH SH*T!' Moment

Mar 04 // Thor Latham
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Best 'OH SH*T' Moment photo
'OH SH*T!'
Warning land lubbers! These waters be rife with spoilers! From scares to tense thrillers to ass kicking action, there's nothing better than a scene (or entire act, as is the case of some) that makes you jump out of your seat ...

Flixist Awards 2012: Most Overrated

Mar 03 // Thor Latham
Ah yes, Ridley Scott's foray back into science fiction that was supposed to elegantly tie into the Aliens universe while simultaneously building the foundation for a brand new franchise. Spoiler alert: it only accomplishes one of those things, and it's not the one that leaves you satisfied with answered questions and not having regretted that you just spend $10 and wasted two hours of your time while mustering every iota of self control you have to not yell at the absolutely imbecilic characters on the screen as they make a mockery out of the fact that they are supposedly "scientists".  Can you tell I didn't care for it? Okay, to be fair my feelings for the movie probably go beyond just thinking its overrated. I was just one hundred percent outright disappointed. Worse yet, I was let down so early into the movie that I just sat there dazed and confused for the remainder of the running time. It took me days, literally days, to reconcile my feelings about it. The lesson to be learned? Well, never trust a franchise whose soul purpose has become the making of money, and of course, always keep reasonable expectations NO MATTER WHAT.  Yeah...good luck with that. Fun fact: I wrote a review of Prometheus as my submission to Flixist when they were looking for new writers, and here I am! I guess I can thank Ridley Scott for that. Or not. The Dark Knight Rises Zero Dark Thirty Les Miserables Life of Pi
Most Overrated photo
The year of disappointments?
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First clip from Terrence Malick's To the Wonder


Some very subtle film technique at work here
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Trailer: Planes


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First poster for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2


Looks delectable
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Here's a new international poster for Monsters University


Take a look at the class
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First set pics from The Amazing Spider-Man 2


Some are kind of out of focus...
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New set photo from X-Men: Days of Future Past


Well, the beginnings of a set at least
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Check out Professor X's new wheels in Days of Future Past


He will ride again!
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New pics for Pacifc Rim, details on Crimson Peak


Big robots and haunted houses
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Meet the Stokers in this new character featurette


Park Chan-wook's next big thing
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New clip for Oz: The Great and Powerful


Thank you Jimmy Kimmel
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Check out this new clip from Monsters University


After watching two minutes of Jimmy Fallon
Feb 13
// Thor Latham
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UPDATE: Watch Zach Galifianakis make actors uncomfortable


You really shouldn't eat any more pudding, Zach
Feb 12
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[UPDATE: Part 2 of Between Two Ferns has been added below the jump. Features interviews with Jessica Chest Stain, Sally Field of Linkin Park, Bradley Cooper, and one "surprise" guest I don't want to spoil here. You can find ...
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You're a mean one Mr. Grinch. Animated reboot planned


How many times can Christmas be stolen?
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Back to the Future explained with animation in one minute


It's like the cliff notes version
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First image from Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac


It's probably not what you're expecting
Feb 06
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New poster for Olympus Has Fallen is on fire!


What I meant to say was, the White House is on fire
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