Anyway, one of the topics that was brought up in the comments was whether it was the actor who made the role or the role who made the actor. Well, it was kinda brought up. So why not expound on it here, eh?
This past Academy Awards, and many of them from the past, have hi-lited the issue with awards and nominations going to the likes of Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Jeremy Renner, Carey Mulligan, Christoph Waltz and Anna Kendrick. All great performances (I'm assuming on some of them) from a group of actors who really don't have much of anything else on their resume that would lead us to believe that it was they who made the performance special rather than the role itself.
So which is it? Is it the role that makes the actor great or is it the actor who makes the role great?
Seems to me that's a pretty difficult question. There have been some out of the blue performances that have been lauded by Mr. Oscar in recent years. Kim Basinger in LA Confidential, Anna Paquin in The Piano, Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire, Miro Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny just to name a few. All engaging and entertaining actors, sure. But award-worthy? Maybe. But maybe those specific roles had more to do with the honors than anything they brought to the table. It's hard to tell.
What's easier to judge is how awful some actors are in great roles. RW brought up Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter. But I was thinking of something a bit more recent, something that bothers me every time I think of it.
Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix. Ugh!
You could argue about the greatness of this film. I certainly don't rank it as an all-time great. It was fun and cheesy and all that, but it could have been soooo much better. Had they, for instance, CAST ANYONE BUT FUCKING KEANU REEVES AS THE MAIN CHARACTER!!!
Everything about his performance bothered me. His delivery, his body language, his hysterical superman fighting moves. C'mon! Does "keanu" mean "wooden" in Hawaiian? And what made his off-the-charts awful performance even that more awful is that he was surrounded by a bunch of fairly talented actors in Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss (awful in this, much better in other films), Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano. His sparring session with Fishburne makes my head ache just thinking about it. The One? More like The Stiff One. Insert your own dick joke here. He looked like a bad computer simulation of a martial artist, and maybe that's what the Wachowskis were going for. Making a comment on the artificial computer world of the Matrix. I dunno. It certainly didn't work for me.
In the trivia section of the film's IMDB page, it mentions that Ewan McGregor and Leonardo DiCaprio were originally considered for the part, but both had to turn it down for other commitments. Shame. I think both of them are outstanding actors who would have made the film much more watchable. Maybe they would have even made the two sequels watchable. Probably not. Hell, Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage were also considered. I'd much rather have ANY of them than fucking Keanu. And I happen to think that Nicolas Cage is one of the worst actors we have going right now. There would have at least been some slap your forehead awfulness/hilarity* had he been Neo.
*Seriously...watch that clip. Now imagine trying to make a coherent film around those scenes. It's impossible.
So I don't think I answered the question here. Is it the role or the actor? I do think it is easier to point out someone who was mis-cast rather than someone who benefited from outstanding material.
What do YOU think? (Farco Barnesian question added just to piss him off. Because clearly, it is what it is. Hehehe)
___________________________________________________Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. I've used that "what does Keanu mean in Hawaiian" joke more than a few times now. It never gets old.