Originally I had intended to do a top ten list of Arnold Schwarzenegger films. The problem is, someone already did the list I would do with the exact movies in that exact order. It's a terribly good article, and I am very jealous. Here it is: http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2013/01/has-their-ever-been-a.html
So, I have created a list of the best roles played by a tough guy where the role wasn't that of a tough guy. There are enough performances by "action hero actors" where they took a little step (or a leap) out of their comfort zone and did something they previously had not done. For the most part, it paid off, and delighted us with something fresh and new. Shall we?
10. Hugh Jackman in Kate & Leopold
Whoa boy, am I not the biggest fan of this movie. Hugh Jackman's performance however, is spot on as they say. Jackman hadn't done much in Hollywood except scream at everybody while wielding metal claws. So it came as quite a shock when he trounsed around wearing a dapper suit and sporting a victorian era British accent. He was impeccably regal. It's safe to say he has not returned to do a role like this since. This was his most lighthearted, most elegant, most innocent character we've seen, and frankly it was the most normal.
9. Christian Bale in (anything other than Batman)
Christian Bale is definitely a good actor. I chose not to single out a particular role in his case because he is just so damn good in a lot of things he does. I am not saying Batman is not good, but his performances outside the caped crusader are astoundingly versatile, and many of them are very un-action like. Granted, Batman isn't all action, but it is still essentially an action based character.
Films in which he astounded me are:
American Hustle, The Machinist, American Psycho, The Fighter, Empire of the Sun, The Prestige, etc. etc. etc.
8. Pierce Brosnan in The Matador
It technically has some action-like elements to it, but let's be honest, it's a goofy, dark comedy. Sure, he plays a "hit man," but not an action-hero by any stretch.
Brosnan is not suave. In fact, he is kind of a loser. He is drunken, lonely, desperate, and annoying. At many points I thought I was just watching another Cable Guy. Regardless, Brosnan really nails this part. He is so sad, so stupid, so loveable, so ANNOYING, and so human. His performance alone makes the movie.
Put in a trendy soundtrack by The Killers and it's and instant-dated classic. Yes, the movie isn't terribly "high brow," but it's not supposed to be.
7. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop
Aside from being one of the best Arnold films out there, this movie shows Arnolds capacity to be the "straight man" in a comedic film.
Hopefully, you all know the story. When his partner becomes violently ill a detective goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in hopes that he is able to find out if the criminal he has been trying to track down is the father of anyone in the classroom.
It's melds the fish out of water scenario with the unwilling hero scenario. Basically, he's completely out of his element. It could have been VERY cheesy, but this movie doesn't go down that road. Rather than exploit or cheapen the comedy, the story is well integrated into the supposed gimmick of Arnold teaching numbers and animals.
There is some mystery, and some suspense. Ultimately, this film is intended for mature audiences, and I don't think a lot of people understand that. This movie is near and dear to my heart. I probably saw it before I should have been watching movies of this kind (my parents weren't the best at monitoring what I was exposed to). The movie deals a lot with the tragedy of parents getting divorced. A hell that I was having to go through at the time when I saw this movie at the age of 5.
6. Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense
It's hard to say that this was a great performance, but it certainly turned our heads. Here was an actor normally known for ass kicking (except for the occaisonaly loveable jerk role in comedies) sitting down with a child and talking about serious stuff. Not to mention, the film was great. I don't have much more to say. He played against his type very well in this film, and for a while I really thought his career was going to continue to go in this direction (after doing Unbreakable).
5. Tom Hardy in Inception
Eames. This guy wasn't really a tough, hard badass. In virtually every film Hardy is in, that is what he plays. Here he does not, and it's pretty darn authentic.
This is one of those fun love-able type roles, and arguably this gave Hardy his mainstream break. I honestly think that his role in Bronson gave him massive attention in Hollywood, but it appears this movie put him on the map. But still, let's not forget Shinzon right?
4. Mel Gibson in The Beaver
Love him or hate him, he's great in this movie. I don't particularly think about Mel Gibson's private life or his comments he made in public. They don't concern me. I don't condone them, but when examining his work all I see is the work, not the person.
Anyhoo, this film was not quite looked at with a favorable eye. Gibson is really vulnerable here in the best way possible. Gone is his tough guy exterior, while we did get to see a taste of his dramatic side in films like The Man Without A Face, and Signs this movie is like the icing on the cake. It's a really good movie, and it's even better because of his performance.
3. Sean Connery in The Untouchables
That's right. James Bond won an oscar everybody. And deservedly so. This man can act his way out of ANYTHING. Connery is an undeniable badass, but he sure as hell was not an action star in this film. Yes, he raised a gun, but he never once fired one (at a live human that is). Therefore, he had no "action" in this film. Jimmy Malone was apparently a real guy too. This movie is the tits, and anyone who consideres themselves a Connery fan needs to see it.
2. Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry
I don't know what it is about Harrison Ford back in the early 90's, but I think he was trying to win an oscar. And he should have. His performance in this movie is so damned loveable, and is the anithesis of an action hero role. It definitely deserves a top spot on this list. There isn't a trifle of action in this film (save for when he sustains his brain injury, and that's no spoiler). He's like a little child throughout the majority of the movie. What a great role.
1. Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July
Yeah. I put this at number 1 because at the time of his casting, Tom Cruise was not known for much else other than dramatic, thriller or romantic type roles. He had not yet bust through with Mission: Impossible and people largely thought of him as cute eye candy with an intensity. This movie blew the socks off of everyone, and it's not hard to see why. A disturbing role in a great film. This is obviously not an action film, and if you even tried to classify it as one, you'd be kidding yourself. The action in this film isn't meant to be, nor is it, entertaining. Cruise's only real competition that year was Daniel Day-Lewis. ANY other year and Cruise would've won the best actor oscar. He was maddeningly good in this film, but DDL is admittedly better, and did deserve the statue. It just sucks because Cruise is an oscar caliber actor and I can think of a few actors who've won an oscar who he is better than.