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 The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character

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FieldsMan
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PostSubject: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:07 pm

I've seen here and elsewhere that some actors are penalised for playing a poorly written/ditzy character as opposed to recognising that the performance is fine (if not sometimes unremarkable), but it's the writing that let's them down. 

For example, I think Britt Ekland, for most part, sells that Hamilton's Goodnight is a smitten ditz. I can't really fault Elkand for the shortcomings of the character. Similarly, Halle Berry does a solid job playing obnoxious Jinx - it's the flaws in the writing of the character, and her dialogue, that points her to the bottom of the barrel. 

Then there is the other end of the spectrum - Anya has a lot of potential but Bach can't deliver.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:05 am

Acting is not a profession; it's a brain condition with varying degrees of severity.

Anyone who spends their life pretending to be somone else is mentally ill.
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Secret Files
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:31 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
Acting is not a profession; it's a brain condition with varying degrees of severity.

Anyone who spends their life pretending to be somone else is mentally ill.

I'd argue that it's not quite so mental if they get paid vast sums for it, though.
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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm

I really don't think there are poor performances anywhere in the original series-just some bad writing choices here and there and some fluff characters who serve little to no function.

Bond films made a habit of casting actresses for their looks or unknown quality versus their acting chops but usually made it gel due to it not being the main character and by properly working the female role into the storyline such as in TSWLM. I think the key to all this working is whether or not you can buy into the character on the screen.

I'd say Stacey Sutton is rather useless, but she is meant to be a normal person suddenly uprooted and given little to do other than scream and give plot details. So for that it is fine. Jinx on the other hand is facepalmingly awful on the written page and no one could have made it believable or non-annoying as hell.

Ganz Otto has a terribly flat role in TND as Stamper the German Grant clone-yet infuses so many little quirks that he gives it personality and elevates what were meant to be character traits but obviously tacked on ones to actual character traits. So then of course they give him a lame death scene.
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FieldsMan
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:02 am

There are definitely some questionable performances in the first 20 Bond films - Barbara Bach, Mie Hama, Moore in TSLWM, John Terry, Tania Mallet, Vijay... I'd argue Kristina Wayborn isn't all that much either, but there is an aloofness to her that helps create a femme fatale persona, even if Magda isn't supposed to be. 

But for Jinx, Goodnight, even Gray's Blofeld, who people seem to write off despite Gray giving a great performance as a bizarrely written character... 

Nothing wrong with Stamper's death scene in my eyes, despite some hammy line delivery.
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CJB
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:11 pm

I will fight anyone who says a bad word about the G(r)ay Blofeld.
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Blunt Instrument
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:46 pm

Vijay does OK for someone who isn't actually an actor. Never thought Terry's Leiter was THAT bad either, but clearly it was thought that for LTK's story being so Leiter-centric they'd better get one of the more memorable actors to play him back.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:51 pm

Blunt Instrument wrote:
Vijay does OK for someone who isn't actually an actor.

Lazenby did OK for someone who isn't actually an actor.
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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:10 pm

FieldsMan wrote:
There are definitely some questionable performances in the first 20 Bond films - Barbara Bach, Mie Hama, Moore in TSLWM, John Terry, Tania Mallet, Vijay... I'd argue Kristina Wayborn isn't all that much either, but there is an aloofness to her that helps create a femme fatale persona, even if Magda isn't supposed to be. 

But for Jinx, Goodnight, even Gray's Blofeld, who people seem to write off despite Gray giving a great performance as a bizarrely written character... 

Nothing wrong with Stamper's death scene in my eyes, despite some hammy line delivery.

Nah. I actually think all of those you mention work just fine in context of the story. The problem is that side characters in the series are usually too underwritten and on the surface may come across as bland, much as what happened to Leiter's character over the years becoming less distinct and eventually dropped continuously. Some shine in brief moments to become more than the sum of their scenes. Personally I find TSWLM to extract the maximum out of Bach's performance and really makes XXX work as a character. Vijay shines in Octopussy which makes his death have impact. I will agree that Magda is aloof and that this actually works to give her a fatale sultry quality-that is save for the poolside dinner where her dialogue comes across as a shade awkward.

Poor John Terry is given an all too brief and underwhelming walk on as Leiter but was an ideal choice for an 80's CIA counterpart to Dalton had he been given more to do. Plus it took me years to realize what really throws one off on his TLD appearance is the drabness of the yacht and the ADR of his dialogue. Once you can look past that you can see how he was a good choice and why Barbara thought of him for Leiter after seeing Full Metal Jacket. However as it was done that way LTK would not have worked without David Hedison coming back. Shame they didn't put anymore Felix into what was ostensibly his own revenge story!

Another example is Paula in TB. Martine Beswick has some nice interplay with Sean but it is really just the throwaway pointless sacrificial lamb character. Paula can't complete with Fiona or Domino in charisma or character yet the performance isn't bad. The character serves its purpose.

You're probably right about Stamper's end...the dialogue does get very cheesy. I guess that combined with Bond having to stab him in the arm always rubbed me the wrong way.


With Gray as Blofeld you may not at first get the delicious quality of evil DAF Blofeld has but once it sinks in...you quote him on a daily basis.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:23 am

Good that you mention this, because I have actually been wondering about it ever since we had this discussion about Daniel Craig and even more when I chose the Raspberry candidates...

So, how do you tell the difference? How do I know that a character is not meant to be like we see him or her on screen? Probably Triple X was meant to be the somewhat lethargic persona she is. How do you know if it was the screenwriter or Bach who created her that way? I would say, in general, the way how a character is meant to be played is scripted and there is little room for an actor to improvise. The anecdote that Disney was afraid Johnny Depp would ruin Pirates of the Caribbean by playing Sparrow the way he did is just another swashbuckling romance, IMO. Do you really think that a company like Disney would allow Johnny Depp to just have his way with such an expensive production? And if an actor was so bad, that he or she were unable to comply, wouldn't s/he be fired? It just strikes me as odd that blockbusters would tolerate such inadequate performances in the first place. There is too much at stake and too many details are planned in such a production. Minute details. I just find it very hard to imagine in the first place.

What rules or system do you apply to keep those two categories "bad writing" vs "bad acting style" apart? I am really curious, because I have no idea how you do that. It might help to possess the actual scripts. But even then it would be horribly difficult to decide, because the scripts I have seen only contained the dialogues. So we would need the director...
I still say that Craig did what he was meant to do and did a good job of it. I say Bond was scripted and planned as we see him on screen. Even his lack of sexual tension was planned (I mean, look at the beginning of SP. There is no bigger lack of sexual tension than leaving the room before they even get started and THAT was definitely scripted). You say (at least this is what I remember, please correct me if I'm wrong) that Bond was meant to be something different and Craig ruined it. So, how do we find out?
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Blunt Instrument
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:55 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
Blunt Instrument wrote:
Vijay does OK for someone who isn't actually an actor.

Lazenby did OK for someone who isn't actually an actor.

True. Actually somewhat better than OK, for me anyway.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:00 am

Don't let me down here...

It's just that I was actually recommended Penny Dreadful because Eva Green was such a fantastic actress. And I totally have to agree with it. If you have seen all her stages of demonic possession and / or the use of demonic power ("verbis diabolo") you should be impressed.
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ironpony
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PostSubject: Re: The difference between a poor performance and a good performance of a poorly written character   Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:44 pm

I think it's a bit of both.

On the one hand you have some actors who are good, but the character are written very poor such as Mary Goodnight, who in my opinion, is probably the worst Bond girl in the series, but I don't fault the actress since it was all in the writing.

But then you have actresses like Mia Hamma or Carol Bougett who give these completely wooden performances but play more interesting characters.
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