“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” – Williams Shakespeare
It seems like 2014 has already seen more than its fair share of talented entertainers leave us. I had the privilege of watching several of them create magical moments in both movies and television, and there are a few, in particular, that stand out for me.
The following list is comprised of five iconic actors who have greatly influenced my love of film and the “Scene Stealing” roles that will forever define them in my mind.
Robin Williams as Mork in “Happy Days”
Admittedly, I was not old enough to watch Robin Williams make his debut as Mork on “Happy Days” when the episode first aired. However, I do remember watching both “Happy Days” and “Mork & Mindy” in syndication with my grandparents. His character as the alien from the planet Ork instantly became a favorite of mine as a child. Later on, he would star in roles like Adrian Cronauer in “Good Morning Vietnam” and Chris Nielsen in “What Dreams May Come” that would place him on my list of favorite actors of all time.
Philip Seymour-Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee in “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
I remember first taking notice of Seymour-Hoffman when he played a sleazy tabloid reporter in “Red Dragon”. After making a career out of scene-stealing supporting roles (“Along Came Polly”, “Missions Impossible III”, “Moneyball”), Seymour-Hoffman entered the Hunger Games craze with his greatest scene-stealing role yet as Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. My understanding is he had already shot most of his scenes for the third installment before his passing, so we still have two more movies of him in the role to look forward to.
Richard Attenborough as John Hammond in “Jurassic Park”
Like most movie goers, “Jurassic Park” blew my mind when I first watched it in theaters (and did, yet again, when I watched the 2014 re-release). I actually read the book after seeing the movie and was surprised that Spielberg had cast Attenborough to play the dinosaur park entrepreneur. In the novel, Hammond is a cold and arrogant business man. Attenborough’s Hammond, however, has almost a child-like optimism about him that, while still arrogant, reflects a man who simply wants to make a childhood dream a reality.
James Garner as Duke in “The Notebook”
I grew up watching the “Rockford Files” and always enjoyed Garner in his various movie roles. While I’m not a Nicholas Sparks fan, I believe Garner’s portrayal of Duke, a husband who’s losing his wife to Alzheimer’s in The Notebook, was the best performance of his career. As a husband, I watched the struggles that Duke went through and it caused me to face my own fears about the disease. I still cannot fathom going through that in my own marriage, but the tenderness and peace that Garner conveys in the role gave me a model for the kind of husband I’d want to be in that situation.
Mickey Rooney as Henry Dailey in “The Black Stallion”
I grew up on a horse ranch with a mother who loved horses. As a result, my siblings and I found ourselves watching the Black Stallion over and over when it was first released on VHS in the early 1980’s. I honestly don’t remember a ton about the film (as I haven’t watched since I was probably ten), but I do remember the “magic” that Mickey Rooney brought to the role. I wasn’t alive during most of his career and while I imagine the majority of people who were have different “scene stealing” roles they think of when his name is mentioned, Henry Dailey will always be the character that personifies Rooney to me.