BLOGBUSTERS That Guy Who Was In That Thing Last Year
The SFX bloggers name the sci-fi actors they love to watch, even if what they’re watching them in is rubbish. Alasdair Stuart is master of ceremonies
You know the feeling. You’re watching something and you recognise an actor or actress and just, relax a little bit. It’s them, it’s him or her from that thing you like, and you know even if the rest of what you’re watching is so unbelievably horrible you’ll be picking a hole in your trouser leg to distract yourself (I’ve done this), they will, at least, be watchable. Freelance scientists have come to refer to this as The Sheppard Effect or MarkSheppardosis and this week, in the interests of science, we’re looking at exactly who causes The Sheppard Effect for us. So join us! As we answer this question:
Which actor or actress are you always happy to watch and why?
Steven Ellis: “When I was asked this question I pondered it. I really didn’t have an answer. There are actors I don’t like and I’m unhappy to see them some of the time; those actors I can name straight away. But as to who I’m always happy to see… I couldn’t pin anyone down. There are lots of actors I like to see and they play a lot of different characters. And there is a trend in sci-fi of having guest cast from one show appear in another show. Someone from Stargate shows up in Smallville, someone from Star Trek shows up in Supernatural and vise versa. Joss Whedon seems to use the same ten actors for everything he does. Sometimes that works and sometimes it feels like stunt casting (you’re not gonna like Cabin In The Wood then – ed).
It’s not usually about the actor for me. It’s about the character and the story and the plot and the drama. Unless the acting is particularly terrible I can watch a whole host of different actors in loads of different things… If I had to list the actors I enjoy to see then we could be here all day. So who do I say? I decided to let my DVD collection speak for me. I had a look on the shelves and by sheer number of things I own with him in it Samuel L Jackson wins. I own 16 films with him in, three more films than the nearest rival Bruce Willis. so, there you go. I tried to come up with someone for TV too but I own that many boxed sets of that many shows it just made my head hurt… So, by the logic of numbers the actor I most look forward to seeing is Samuel L Jackson. Will that do?”
Narin Bahar: Pretty much any of the Firefly cast, but particularly Adam Baldwin and Nathan Fillion. Partly it’s because I fell in love with Firefly early and thus experienced the full teeth-gnashing fury at the injustice of such a fab show being culled before its time, and as such whenever any of the cast pop up in anything else I get a twinge of pleasure that their talents have been recognised elsewhere. But partly it’s because they tend to choose fun or interesting roles – especially Fillion and Baldwin, the latter being the hook that got me into Chuck (although I stayed for the geeky references and likeable characters).
Up to a few months ago Michael Emerson (Ben from Lost) was someone else I’d say I’d watch in anything. Not so much now – six episodes of Person Of Interest were quite enough thank you. He is an amazing actor though.
Will Salmon: I could watch Matt Smith all day. And intend to later on from my custom-built observation platform. Also Bernard Cribbins, who is just childhood magic personified. I gave a pathetic little cheer the other day when I saw that episode of The Avengers where he plays a knitting obsessive. And also Scarlett Johansson for tediously obvious guy reasons.
Matt Risley: I figure this is going to be a common one, but….. Nathan Fillion. Not only is he insanely charismatic, but he can pull off comedy, drama and everything in between with equal amounts of talented gusto. Henry Cavill may have bagged the title of “unluckiest man in Hollywood” after years of nearly-roles on some of the world’s biggest movie franchises, but Fillion is almost certainly the “most overlooked”. But if Cavill can get his time to shine, then surely it’s only a matter of when, not if, for sci-fi’s most loveable rogue.
Kelly Harker: Nathan Fillion was born to play Captain Reynolds I’m sure you’ll agree, and even without Firefly he’s an amazing actor and always a hero. I have never been involved in so many Twitter campaigns as much as I have in support of Nathan: “Dear Hollywood gods, please cast Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake”; “Make Nathan Fillion the Master Chief!’; “Ant Man is an awesome role for The Fillion!” But for now I’m just grateful to have him back on my screen every week as Richard Castle, and showing up as The Holy Avenger in James Gunn’s Super (Thank you so much, Mr. Gunn!). From experimental media such as Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and PG Porn, to spending his time doing charity work and sci-fi conventions, to big time Hollywood films, Nathan Fillion rocks them all and rocks my world. He will always have fan support because he’s not only a great actor, he’s a great guy. In other words: he’s shiny.
Laura McConnell: I could pick from quite a few candidates for this one, but really the choice is as plain as the four noses on your face. (What? You don’t have four noses? Well, too bad, because I have four answers.) First up is Stargate Atlantis’s Paul McGillion, because he’s gone above and beyond the norm for his fans on several occasions that I know of and three that I’ve experienced myself. Next come Firefly’s Nathan Fillion and Stargate SG-1’s Michael Shanks, for similar reasons. And finally, the internet legend that is Wil Wheaton rounds off the pack, as he seems to truly not be a dick, despite his penchant for playing them so well on some of my favourite shows.
John Cooper: Ron Perlman. Guillermo del Toro’s go-to guy first came to my attention in The City Of Lost Children and del Toro’s Chronos, with his size and unusually big jowls. His casting in Hellboy is perfect and it was about time he got a starring role in his own movie (even if he is heavily made-up throughout). He might be a bit cheesy sometimes, but he’s incredibly watchable, whatever he’s in. My personal favourite Perlman moment isn’t even a movie, but during the making of Alien 4; just the opening few moment where he narrates the documentary, walks into shot, looks out the screen with a steely gaze and says “Hi, I’m Ron Perlman.” This man knows exactly what he’s doing.
Lee Harris: That’s easy: Garrett Dillahunt. I first saw Dillahunt in The 4400, where he played Matthew Ross – a sneaky, no-good piece of work, with a penchant for stabbing people in the back (metaphorically). His performance was spot-on. Via the magic of time travel, I then saw him in season one of Deadwood – not a show that SFX would cover, but one that appeals to almost every geek I know. I didn’t know Dillahunt was in this, though, not at first. He played Jack McCall – a sneaky, no-good piece of work, with a penchant for stabbing people in the back (not metaphorically). Oh, and shooting them. He was virtually unrecognisable in this, though – he was dirty, unshaven, and had a lazy eye. Only a glance at the credits told me he was in it. Unfortunately, the character of McCall was written out (due to the demands of the plot). That didn’t prevent Dillahunt from being in season two, though – oh no, sirree! So impressed were the producers that they offered him a different role, in order to keep him in the show! In season two he played the upright, respectable-on-the-outside Francis Wolcott – a sneaky, no-good piece of work, with a penchant for stabbing people… No, not really: he was the sort to get others to do the stabbing for him.
He also played Doctor Michael Smith in the HBO series John From Cincinnati. This was a change of pace from the other roles listed, above, and though a regular character, his was very much on the sidelines. Still good to watch.
Most people know him from The Sarah Connor Chronicles where he played Cromartie/John Henry. Another change of pace, though he nailed the performance, as he always seems to do.
He was also in No Country For Old Men and the remake of The Last House On The Left. Most of the performances that would bring him to the attention of SFXers, have been in dramatic roles. I was interested to see him play one of the leads in a new US comedy, Raising Hope, which premiered last year. Now into its second season, it has quickly become one of my favourite shows, thanks to Dillahunt and the rest of the brilliant ensemble cast.
He’s done a lot more than the shows and films I’ve listed above, though. His name on a cast list means it’s a show or film I will definitely watch – it’s a guarantee that at least one performance will be top notch.
Alasdair Stuart: Henry Rollins. The man isn’t just a fearsome genius he’s also consistently massive amounts of fun and a pathological auditioner, which is why he turns up in so many things. Need a guy to get thrown through a window by Al Pacino in Heat? Rollins. Need a large, scary looking Cyberpunk doctor in Johnny Mnemonic? Rollins. Need someone to voice Kilowog in Emerald Knights? Rollins. Need someone to play Deadpool in the best alternate universe movie version of the character we’ll never get to see? Rollins. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s hard as nails and I’m always glad to see him.
And, resembling nothing more than a slightly smaller version of Rollins, Tom Hardy is someone else I’m ridiculously happy to see turn up in pretty much anything. I was one of the four people on the planet who liked Nemesis and since then Hardy hasn’t turned in a bad performance. He’s great, along with the equally fun Gerard Butler and Idris Elba in Rock’n’Rolla, he all but steals the show in Inception and he’s stunningly good as an ex-marine turned Mixed Martial Artist in Warrior, the best movie very few people saw this year. In fact, put Hardy and Rollins in the same movie, it writes itself:
He’s erudite, angry and tattooed!
He’s laconic, angry and tattooed!
They fight crime!
I’d be first in line.
So, with some of the primary infection vectors of The Shepherd Effect charted and diagnosed, we must return to our mountain Science Fortresses. But fear not, citizens of the internet! We will return next week, to answer this question;
What’s your favourite geeky guilty pleasure?
Prepare for spirited defences of some of geekdom’s best misfit toys as we discuss why we love the things the rest of fandom loves to rag on. Bring your own guilty pleasures, burning torches and pitchforks and we’ll see you then.
Tags: Adam Baldwin, Alien 4, Bernard Cribbins, Blogbusters, Chuck, Doctor Who, Firefly, Garrett Dillahunt, Hellboy, Henry Rollins, Johnny Mnemonic, Matt Smith, Michael Shanks, Nathan Fillion, Paul McGillion, Ron Perlman, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Super, The 4400, The City Of Lost Children, Tom Hardy, Wil Wheaton