26

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Brozzer, Clooney vs 40s stars?
"I find the parallel amusing"
I think Clooney was decent in Hail Caesar.
Speaking of which, it's funny that no-one has brought that up yet, since Clooney is supposed to be (unconvincingly for most of you) a 40s (I think? Don't get your pitchforks ready just yet!) movie star.
He did a good job but I can't remember if he did indeed sing in that movie.
It's definitely worth a watch, even if I'm not a big Clooney fan.
He's not bad, it's just that there's something that makes me not want to see much more of him.
Like Brozzer, before I researched him further and saw some of his interviews, he seems like a bit of a jerk. An unlikeable vibe that he just gives off.

"...I have the oddest feeling we will be meeting again sometime..."
-Roger Moore's James Bond. RIP.
I have a YouTube channel on all things Bond (amongst other things, coming soon™).
The name's Beyond, Bond and Beyond

27

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

ToTheRight wrote:
Gassy Man wrote:

I appreciate that.  ajb007/cheers   I don't think Brosnan would have been signed, nor Clooney, at least not as leading men.  They might have appeared somewhere in the background, but even then, I don't think so.  There's a totality of the qualities that both lack.  But it would have changed the nature of those films if they had.

I think the actors in the studio system era had the advantage of being assigned film after film, regardless of genre. Same with directors. They were constantly working on their craft, and could be seen in a variety of different genres. Jimmy Stewart and Robert Mitchum, could both convincingly play in westerns, noir or even lighter romantic comedies. James Cagney could do gangsters, noir as well as musicals.
I can't really see many current stars having that type of versatility. I don't picture Clooney in a musical. Hugh Jackman, yes. Pierce tried it. Someone like Cagney, though really nails it in films like YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

The American studio system absolutely did, as they not only recruited but developed talent pretty much like you say, and you're exactly right that leading actors usually had to be triple threats.  That was pretty much how movies were made for the first 50 years or so.

Then, in the 1960s, the studio system began to dismantle.  Television, foreign films, and cheaper domestic productions from independents had all eaten into the dominance of the studio system, and the great bosses were now old men.  To compete, movies began to get edgier, and a lot of the restrictions from the Hayes Code began to lift.  The Bond films helped usher that in, of course, but the successes of low-budget features that aped their European counterparts -- Easy Rider, for instance -- suggested the future was no longer with studio films.  This, by the way, is where a lot of actors initially groomed for the studio system faltered. 

A great example is George Peppard, one of the last actors brought in under the old system.  The expectation was that he'd be groomed into leading man status, but he was caught in the vacuum between old school and new school leading man.  Whereas leading men of the previous generation might be Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Jimmy Stewart, and so forth, by the end of the decade, quirkier and more ordinary looking men were headlining films -- Jack Nicholson, Jon Voight, Peter Fonda, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Robert DeNiro and so forth.  They, of course, then spawned a whole generation of imitators.  Especially in his early years, William Devane was essentially a poor man's Nicholson, for instance. 

Many old school actors, such as Peck, struggled to find their place in this rapidly changing landscape, while some made the transition by aiming for quirkier or edgier films.  Robert Redford, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty were all young enough to straddle the two periods and become leading men, but they had to strive for unusual roles.  Sean Connery, who ironically had made a lot of this possible with his predatory portrayal as Bond, almost saw his career end as he floundered trying to find a place for himself.  Given all this, it's easy to see why George Lazenby might have thought there was no future in Bond, which by then might have seemed rather quaint as a film series.

Directors drifted further away from the big budget studio films and more toward "personal" films where they considered themselves, like their European counterparts, auteurs.  Of course, some old school films were still made in the late 60s and early to mid 70s, but they were being pushed aside by the works of people like Coppola, Kubrick, Bogdonovich, DePalma, and Scorcese who were more interested in mining the quieter moments in their films than the sweeping qualities of their predecessors, even if they had sweeping stories.  They used newer film stocks and techniques -- more natural lighting, more location filming, more close ups. 

But there were already splinter groups forming.  Lucas and Spielberg, for instance, who'd grown up on B movies of the 50s and 60s saw the opportunity to take their generally simplistic stories, throw a lot of money at them, and then create a kind of hybrid between the old school epics and the new school quirkiness, and thus the summer blockbuster was born.  Other forces shaped the decade of the 70s -- drugs, disco, androgyny, and sexual revolution, for instance, and now the leading man had to not only project a kind of everyman quality, but also sex appeal.  He was no longer larger than life but meant to be recognizable, if in an enviable way.

This differentiated him from the leading man of previous eras.  Yes, those men were handsome and had sex appeal, but this was always tempered by their romanticism and larger-than-life appeal.  They were not defined primarily by their sex appeal but by their temperament and morality (ironically, even if they were terrible people in real life).  Audiences were meant to look up to them more than merely fantasize about them.  But starting in the 70s, they became more sexualized, often androgynously so.  Warren Beatty by then is a major star and spawns knock offs like John Travolta and Al Pacino, who with their long hair, pouty lips, and bedroom eyes had as much in common with leading ladies of the past as leading men.  (One director -- it might have been Orson Welles -- referred to actors in this period as "masturbatory material," or something like that in a documentary I saw long ago.)

By the 1980s, when sex and nudity become commonplace, the push was to further objectify actors.  Concepts like leading man and lady are largely passe by then except in a retro sort of way.  Now, performers want to be actors, even if they're in soap operas or porn films.  Sex appeal becomes even more critical, where movie stars are not just hitting the gym and pumping up to proportions often distorted from much of reality but may do less acting than posing on screen.  Increasingly, films rely on action and special effects to tell their stories, and actors rely more on more on close ups in their performances, where audiences know them less as characters and more as physical features.  This is also the period where looking younger and younger becomes vital -- megastar Tom Cruise, for instance, who is now the age that Connery was in NSNA but still tries to look a perpetual 30-something -- and a kind of boyish quality at any age is vital.  The new leading man is Robert Downey, Jr., Kevin Bacon, or Michael J. Fox.  If the role is retro or blandly middle of the road, it's Harrison Ford or Kevin Costner.  If the role is particularly absurd, it's Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Brosnan is perfect for this period to cover as many bases as possible.  He's tall and built like a model but still has a boyish, almost androgynous charm, which makes it easier to objectify him while he general plays lighter, fluffier roles.  He has some of the flintyness of the quirkier actors who came before him, yet he still seems like a guy who counts calories and knows the difference between a loafer and a wingtip.  If he has muscles, he got them from the gym and not actual physical work.  He seems likable, but with a darker center, and more important, he seems sexy.  But you probably wouldn't use terms like larger-than-life to describe him.  Gregory Peck or Charlton Heston could easily step into roles like Atticus Finch or Moses, but Brosnan would really, really have to work at it, and even then, wouldn't be all that convincing.  A lot of the same could be said for Clooney. 

Of course, there are always exceptions.  But in the same way that Peck, Holden, Stewart, Heston, and others of a bygone era struggled to find their place in the following one, it would be tough for Brosnan and Clooney to find their place in an older one.  They weren't selected for leading roles for the same reasons or the same audiences.  This isn't to say they could do their best to approximate it, but while it might work for their fans, others would likely see what a mismatch it is.

Last edited by Gassy Man (12th Aug 2017 08:19)

28

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:
ToTheRight wrote:
Gassy Man wrote:

I appreciate that.  ajb007/cheers   I don't think Brosnan would have been signed, nor Clooney, at least not as leading men.  They might have appeared somewhere in the background, but even then, I don't think so.  There's a totality of the qualities that both lack.  But it would have changed the nature of those films if they had.

I think the actors in the studio system era had the advantage of being assigned film after film, regardless of genre. Same with directors. They were constantly working on their craft, and could be seen in a variety of different genres. Jimmy Stewart and Robert Mitchum, could both convincingly play in westerns, noir or even lighter romantic comedies. James Cagney could do gangsters, noir as well as musicals.
I can't really see many current stars having that type of versatility. I don't picture Clooney in a musical. Hugh Jackman, yes. Pierce tried it. Someone like Cagney, though really nails it in films like YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

The American studio system absolutely did, as they not only recruited but developed talent pretty much like you say, and you're exactly right that leading actors usually had to be triple threats.  That was pretty much how movies were made for the first 50 years or so.

Then, in the 1960s, the studio system began to dismantle.  Television, foreign films, and cheaper domestic productions from independents had all eaten into the dominance of the studio system, and the great bosses were now old men.  To compete, movies began to get edgier, and a lot of the restrictions from the Hayes Code began to lift.  The Bond films helped usher that in, of course, but the successes of low-budget features that aped their European counterparts -- Easy Rider, for instance -- suggested the future was no longer with studio films.  This, by the way, is where a lot of actors initially groomed for the studio system faltered. 

A great example is George Peppard, one of the last actors brought in under the old system.  The expectation was that he'd be groomed into leading man status, but he was caught in the vacuum between old school and new school leading man.  Whereas leading men of the previous generation might be Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Jimmy Stewart, and so forth, by the end of the decade, quirkier and more ordinary looking men were headlining films -- Jack Nicholson, Jon Voight, Peter Fonda, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Robert DeNiro and so forth.  They, of course, then spawned a whole generation of imitators.  Especially in his early years, William Devane was essentially a poor man's Nicholson, for instance. 

Many old school actors, such as Peck, struggled to find their place in this rapidly changing landscape, while some made the transition by aiming for quirkier or edgier films.  Robert Redford, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty were all young enough to straddle the two periods and become leading men, but they had to strive for unusual roles.  Sean Connery, who ironically had made a lot of this possible with his predatory portrayal as Bond, almost saw his career end as he floundered trying to find a place for himself.  Given all this, it's easy to see why George Lazenby might have thought there was no future in Bond, which by then might have seemed rather quaint as a film series.

Directors drifted further away from the big budget studio films and more toward "personal" films where they considered themselves, like their European counterparts, auteurs.  Of course, some old school films were still made in the late 60s and early to mid 70s, but they were being pushed aside by the works of people like Coppola, Kubrick, Bogdonovich, DePalma, and Scorcese who were more interested in mining the quieter moments in their films than the sweeping qualities of their predecessors, even if they had sweeping stories.  They used newer film stocks and techniques -- more natural lighting, more location filming, more close ups. 

But there were already splinter groups forming.  Lucas and Spielberg, for instance, who'd grown up on B movies of the 50s and 60s saw the opportunity to take their generally simplistic stories, throw a lot of money at them, and then create a kind of hybrid between the old school epics and the new school quirkiness, and thus the summer blockbuster was born.  Other forces shaped the decade of the 70s -- drugs, disco, androgyny, and sexual revolution, for instance, and now the leading man had to not only project a kind of everyman quality, but also sex appeal.  He was no longer larger than life but meant to be recognizable, if in an enviable way.

This differentiated him from the leading man of previous eras.  Yes, those men were handsome and had sex appeal, but this was always tempered by their romanticism and larger-than-life appeal.  They were not defined primarily by their sex appeal but by their temperament and morality (ironically, even if they were terrible people in real life).  Audiences were meant to look up to them more than merely fantasize about them.  But starting in the 70s, they became more sexualized, often androgynously so.  Warren Beatty by then is a major star and spawns knock offs like John Travolta and Al Pacino, who with their long hair, pouty lips, and bedroom eyes had as much in common with leading ladies of the past as leading men.  (One director -- it might have been Orson Welles -- referred to actors in this period as "masturbatory material," or something like that in a documentary I saw long ago.)

By the 1980s, when sex and nudity become commonplace, the push was to further objectify actors.  Concepts like leading man and lady are largely passe by then except in a retro sort of way.  Now, performers want to be actors, even if they're in soap operas or porn films.  Sex appeal becomes even more critical, where movie stars are not just hitting the gym and pumping up to proportions often distorted from much of reality but may do less acting than posing on screen.  Increasingly, films rely on action and special effects to tell their stories, and actors rely more on more on close ups in their performances, where audiences know them less as characters and more as physical features.  This is also the period where looking younger and younger becomes vital -- megastar Tom Cruise, for instance, who is now the age that Connery was in NSNA but still tries to look a perpetual 30-something -- and a kind of boyish quality at any age is vital.  The new leading man is Robert Downey, Jr., Kevin Bacon, or Michael J. Fox.  If the role is retro or blandly middle of the road, it's Harrison Ford or Kevin Costner.  If the role is particularly absurd, it's Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Brosnan is perfect for this period to cover as many bases as possible.  He's tall and built like a model but still has a boyish, almost androgynous charm, which makes it easier to objectify him while he general plays lighter, fluffier roles.  He has some of the flintyness of the quirkier actors who came before him, yet he still seems like a guy who counts calories and knows the difference between a loafer and a wingtip.  If he has muscles, he got them from the gym and not actual physical work.  He seems likable, but with a darker center, and more important, he seems sexy.  But you probably wouldn't use terms like larger-than-life to describe him.  Gregory Peck or Charlton Heston could easily step into roles like Atticus Finch or Moses, but Brosnan would really, really have to work at it, and even then, wouldn't be all that convincing.  A lot of the same could be said for Clooney. 

Of course, there are always exceptions.  But in the same way that Peck, Holden, Stewart, Heston, and others of a bygone era struggled to find their place in the following one, it would be tough for Brosnan and Clooney to find their place in an older one.  They weren't selected for leading roles for the same reasons or the same audiences.  This isn't to say they could do their best to approximate it, but while it might work for their fans, others would likely see what a mismatch it is.

Excellent post! The concept of leading actors certainly has evolved from the classic era. I suppose today one must land a role in a major franchise to become a leading actor. Personally I'd like to see this current era transition into something else. A 50 something year old Tom Cruise, I'd find far more interesting if he were playing roles his own age. You really don't see many human interest dramas along the lines of, say, FIVE EASY PIECES for actors today. Then again, perhaps I've gotten so burned out on the countless franchises, comic book films, etc, I've stopped paying attention to what else might be out there?

29

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:

The differences may seem subtle, but Brosnan and Clooney simply don't have the look for the era.  You may not see it, and that's fine, but their features and demeanor just aren't up to snuff.  That doesn't mean they can't be dressed up in period clothing or given period hairstyles, but in the same way Natalie Portman or Winona Ryder will never be Audrey Hepburn, Brosnan and Clooney will never be Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, or Gregory Peck.  Comparing them to such is laughable.

What do you mean their features aren't up to snuff?

30

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

walther p99 wrote:
Gassy Man wrote:

The differences may seem subtle, but Brosnan and Clooney simply don't have the look for the era.  You may not see it, and that's fine, but their features and demeanor just aren't up to snuff.  That doesn't mean they can't be dressed up in period clothing or given period hairstyles, but in the same way Natalie Portman or Winona Ryder will never be Audrey Hepburn, Brosnan and Clooney will never be Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, or Gregory Peck.  Comparing them to such is laughable.

What do you mean their features aren't up to snuff?

They look like actors of the past few decades rather than the ones who preceded them.

31

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

ToTheRight wrote:

Excellent post! The concept of leading actors certainly has evolved from the classic era. I suppose today one must land a role in a major franchise to become a leading actor. Personally I'd like to see this current era transition into something else. A 50 something year old Tom Cruise, I'd find far more interesting if he were playing roles his own age. You really don't see many human interest dramas along the lines of, say, FIVE EASY PIECES for actors today. Then again, perhaps I've gotten so burned out on the countless franchises, comic book films, etc, I've stopped paying attention to what else might be out there?

Thanks!  I'd agree about Cruise, but that's going to be tough since he came through that 1980s/1990s era, where boyish looking men were selected to be leading men.  He's lucky in that, like Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, he retains a youthful quality, but he'll never age into a man like, say, John Wayne or Robert Mitchum did.

In some ways, it's easier to see the distinctions between old school actors and those in transition by looking at the differences between Cary Grant and Sean Connery.  Here are two photos that show what might be considered subtle but meaningful differences that casting people, in particular, would be looking for, even if the men are relatively similar physical types. 

Both are tall, dark-haired, handsome, and Caucasian, with no obvious physical flaws, but you can see that Connery has a pointier, slightly less refined nose and profile, bushier features, bigger ears, wider set eyes, and a larger mouth.  Ironically, though he was a body builder, his jaw actually seems a little less developed in the photo than Grant's, though perhaps age has something to do with it.  There's a smarmy look to Connery's eyes (which he used to great effect not just in Bond but in most roles he had during the era) that give him a cockier, more predatory quality than Grant, even when Grant played the villain and projected darkness. 

My mother, who saw the Bond films in theaters when initially released, said she and her friends thought Connery was rat-like when he appeared onscreen.  It was only after Goldfinger and Connery being everywhere in photos and such that she began to soften on whether he was really all that handsome.

Actors say a lot with their eyes, and the ability to project those inner qualities becomes the hallmark of their performances, but casting directors in the studio system, where it was expected actors would fit into certain "types." looked for both inner and outer characteristics natural to the actors.  Think about how, say, Jack Nicholson, for instance, always has a kind of manic quality in his eyes that have defined him or Robert DeNiro always looks suspicious. 

Today, the popular thinking is that the actor is merely a blank canvas who then becomes a character, but one of the reasons I don't buy a lot of performances by contemporary actors is a lot of them don't escape whatever natural qualities they have to try to become what they think the character is.  That's why, for instance, I'd never cast Brosnan as, say, Atticus Finch, even though Brosnan is also tall, dark-haired, etc.  Gregory Peck has everything the character represents, not just in his physical features but in what he seems to project naturally -- intelligence, sensitivity, nobility, fatherhood.  Brosnan doesn't.  I'd say the same for Tom Cruise, who's made an entire career out of playing the same hyper, arrogant guy in every movie he's made.  But at least he accepts his limitations.

Before anyone says that's a fluke because Peck was born to play the role, I'd say he was equally effective as Keith Mallory in The Guns of Navarone and as Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday.  There's a kind of calm decency that resides in Peck that comes out in his performances, even if the characters are edgier.  It helps that he's an almost impossibly handsome man, like a statue, but it also explains why he falters when trying to play characters with truly dark qualities and is rarely successful, the successes only happening when he's very young (Duel in the Sun) and very old (The Boy from Brazil), where the entire production is weighted toward propping up the performances.  He still had to work hard against type.  When he tries to play characters that are much muddier internally, especially later in his career, it just doesn't work (I Walk the Line is a good example).

These may all seem trivial, almost inconceivable distinctions, but like I said, they're what keep the wannabes from being the real thing.  It's why there will only ever be one Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, or John Wayne but plenty of imitators that fall far short.  At the same time, I could exchange Matt Damon for practically any white actor of average proportions and get pretty much the same effect. 

https://s21.postimg.org/c2hktaxv7/Cary-_Grand-with-_Sean-_Connery-1957.jpg

https://s12.postimg.org/s6tnd4buh/Cary-_Sean.jpg

Last edited by Gassy Man (12th Aug 2017 20:35)

32

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:
walther p99 wrote:
Gassy Man wrote:

The differences may seem subtle, but Brosnan and Clooney simply don't have the look for the era.  You may not see it, and that's fine, but their features and demeanor just aren't up to snuff.  That doesn't mean they can't be dressed up in period clothing or given period hairstyles, but in the same way Natalie Portman or Winona Ryder will never be Audrey Hepburn, Brosnan and Clooney will never be Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, or Gregory Peck.  Comparing them to such is laughable.

What do you mean their features aren't up to snuff?

They look like actors of the past few decades rather than the ones who preceded them.

What's the aesthetic differences between the past and present actors?

33

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

You're going to have to read my previous posts.

34

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Again, all highly subjective.  Looking like a rat appeals better to one generation over another, but "rat" implies something negative and yet entire generations have swooned over a certain actor we know who looks like a rat.   It’s so easy to revere stars who’ve passed into legendary status, i.e., those long dead, but I guess it’s difficult or impossible for some people to concede praise to extremely popular celebrities still in their prime (especially those deemed as threateningly good looking) because for whatever reason, it’s “personal" especially as it relates to feelings of inadequacies, lol!   Am I shooting in the dark?  I just can't think of any other reasonable motivation behind a staunchly worded (and many ones at that) argument in response to a throwaway comment of Brosnan fitting in among the golden age of Hollywood actors.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

35

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

They you have limited imagination and I'll just ignore it from this point on.

36

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

There's no need for this to get personal, guys. Please make use of the PM function if necessary.

11 songs done for next CD- one being discarded- now the mixing & mastering begins.

37

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Amazing what a conversation can incur from ones hairstyle.

"...I have the oddest feeling we will be meeting again sometime..."
-Roger Moore's James Bond. RIP.
I have a YouTube channel on all things Bond (amongst other things, coming soon™).
The name's Beyond, Bond and Beyond

38

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

It all just a load of follicles, if you ask me.  ajb007/wink

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

39

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:

They you have limited imagination and I'll just ignore it from this point on.

I agree, but I'll also exercise the right to ignore.  There's no reason to continue the conversation.

40

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Barbel wrote:

There's no need for this to get personal, guys. Please make use of the PM function if necessary.

Sorry, I somehow responded to my own response, haha.  Anyway, I'll just ignore him/her rand try to keep everything else civil.

41

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Thanks, GM.

(I'd guessed that you quoted the wrong message!)

11 songs done for next CD- one being discarded- now the mixing & mastering begins.

42

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Wow, now it's implied that I'm a woman...as if that's a bad thing ajb007/lol  There are easier ways to ask me out and it's no longer frowned upon  ajb007/wink

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

43

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Ok, that's enough- both of you have had "right to reply". Any more off-topic posts will be deleted. PMs are available.

11 songs done for next CD- one being discarded- now the mixing & mastering begins.

44

Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:
ToTheRight wrote:

Excellent post! The concept of leading actors certainly has evolved from the classic era. I suppose today one must land a role in a major franchise to become a leading actor. Personally I'd like to see this current era transition into something else. A 50 something year old Tom Cruise, I'd find far more interesting if he were playing roles his own age. You really don't see many human interest dramas along the lines of, say, FIVE EASY PIECES for actors today. Then again, perhaps I've gotten so burned out on the countless franchises, comic book films, etc, I've stopped paying attention to what else might be out there?

Thanks!  I'd agree about Cruise, but that's going to be tough since he came through that 1980s/1990s era, where boyish looking men were selected to be leading men.  He's lucky in that, like Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, he retains a youthful quality, but he'll never age into a man like, say, John Wayne or Robert Mitchum did.

In some ways, it's easier to see the distinctions between old school actors and those in transition by looking at the differences between Cary Grant and Sean Connery.  Here are two photos that show what might be considered subtle but meaningful differences that casting people, in particular, would be looking for, even if the men are relatively similar physical types. 

Both are tall, dark-haired, handsome, and Caucasian, with no obvious physical flaws, but you can see that Connery has a pointier, slightly less refined nose and profile, bushier features, bigger ears, wider set eyes, and a larger mouth.  Ironically, though he was a body builder, his jaw actually seems a little less developed in the photo than Grant's, though perhaps age has something to do with it.  There's a smarmy look to Connery's eyes (which he used to great effect not just in Bond but in most roles he had during the era) that give him a cockier, more predatory quality than Grant, even when Grant played the villain and projected darkness. 

My mother, who saw the Bond films in theaters when initially released, said she and her friends thought Connery was rat-like when he appeared onscreen.  It was only after Goldfinger and Connery being everywhere in photos and such that she began to soften on whether he was really all that handsome.

Actors say a lot with their eyes, and the ability to project those inner qualities becomes the hallmark of their performances, but casting directors in the studio system, where it was expected actors would fit into certain "types." looked for both inner and outer characteristics natural to the actors.  Think about how, say, Jack Nicholson, for instance, always has a kind of manic quality in his eyes that have defined him or Robert DeNiro always looks suspicious. 

Today, the popular thinking is that the actor is merely a blank canvas who then becomes a character, but one of the reasons I don't buy a lot of performances by contemporary actors is a lot of them don't escape whatever natural qualities they have to try to become what they think the character is.  That's why, for instance, I'd never cast Brosnan as, say, Atticus Finch, even though Brosnan is also tall, dark-haired, etc.  Gregory Peck has everything the character represents, not just in his physical features but in what he seems to project naturally -- intelligence, sensitivity, nobility, fatherhood.  Brosnan doesn't.  I'd say the same for Tom Cruise, who's made an entire career out of playing the same hyper, arrogant guy in every movie he's made.  But at least he accepts his limitations.

Before anyone says that's a fluke because Peck was born to play the role, I'd say he was equally effective as Keith Mallory in The Guns of Navarone and as Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday.  There's a kind of calm decency that resides in Peck that comes out in his performances, even if the characters are edgier.  It helps that he's an almost impossibly handsome man, like a statue, but it also explains why he falters when trying to play characters with truly dark qualities and is rarely successful, the successes only happening when he's very young (Duel in the Sun) and very old (The Boy from Brazil), where the entire production is weighted toward propping up the performances.  He still had to work hard against type.  When he tries to play characters that are much muddier internally, especially later in his career, it just doesn't work (I Walk the Line is a good example).

These may all seem trivial, almost inconceivable distinctions, but like I said, they're what keep the wannabes from being the real thing.  It's why there will only ever be one Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, or John Wayne but plenty of imitators that fall far short.  At the same time, I could exchange Matt Damon for practically any white actor of average proportions and get pretty much the same effect. 

https://s21.postimg.org/c2hktaxv7/Cary-_Grand-with-_Sean-_Connery-1957.jpg

https://s12.postimg.org/s6tnd4buh/Cary-_Sean.jpg

Good comparisons between Sean and Cary. Definitely at that time the concept of the leading man was slowly beginning to transition. Sean is definitely more raw and edgy in appearance. I'd say by GF and TB he was starting to look more streamlined compared to his earlier films (especially Darby O Gill).
Gregory Peck playing against type kind of reminds me when of Spencer Tracy played Jekyll and Hyde. At the time his performance wasn't exactly widely praised, though possibly due to comparisons with Fredric March, whose version of that story was only 10 years previous. I also think by then audiences were long accustomed to Tracy in roles like Boys Town, and may have not wanted to see his darker side.
I believe his acting style was pretty much to play himself, but in his character's situation. I personally like his Jekyll/Hyde performance. I agree about today's actors not escaping their natural qualities. I also feel today an actor would be cast in an iconic role despite their lack of suitability for the part. Yet, they'd still often be praised for their performance. To be honest I never felt Robert Downey Jr was Sherlock Holmes in the least, but I wouldn't say he gave a particularly bad performance. If Brosnan ever were to be cast as Atticus Fitch, he'd probably still seem the like the Brosnan of, say, Laws of Attraction.

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Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

That's a good point about Tracy.  He carved out a career playing irascible but basically good-hearted men.  He's so much so that his less-successful doppelganger, James Whitmore, played the same kinds of parts.

Casting him -- or any actor -- against type occasionally works because of the contrast, but it mostly works with actors who don't seem to have much natural charisma or personality to begin with.  Daniel Day-Lewis or Meryl Streep would be good examples.  It's not so much they are method actors as it is they really don't have the qualities to be movie stars, their talent notwithstanding.  This makes it easier for them to be chameleons.  But they are so good at it, they overcome their limitations, which is quite rare.

I agree about Downey -- I've never been a big fan, and to me, he's the same in everything.  But he brought a kind of manic energy to a semi-comedic version of Holmes.  It was really the production, designed around him, that made the films work, helped immensely by Jude Law as one of the few fairly accurate representations of Watson on screen.  But as Holmes himself, Downey never seemed physically convincing.

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Re: Brosnan's Hair Style

Gassy Man wrote:

That's a good point about Tracy.  He carved out a career playing irascible but basically good-hearted men.  He's so much so that his less-successful doppelganger, James Whitmore, played the same kinds of parts.

Casting him -- or any actor -- against type occasionally works because of the contrast, but it mostly works with actors who don't seem to have much natural charisma or personality to begin with.  Daniel Day-Lewis or Meryl Streep would be good examples.  It's not so much they are method actors as it is they really don't have the qualities to be movie stars, their talent notwithstanding.  This makes it easier for them to be chameleons.  But they are so good at it, they overcome their limitations, which is quite rare.

I agree about Downey -- I've never been a big fan, and to me, he's the same in everything.  But he brought a kind of manic energy to a semi-comedic version of Holmes.  It was really the production, designed around him, that made the films work, helped immensely by Jude Law as one of the few fairly accurate representations of Watson on screen.  But as Holmes himself, Downey never seemed physically convincing.

I might have been more interested in those Holmes films had Jude Law and Downey Jr switched roles. I'd agree about Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep. The don't quite come across as movie stars, but actors very dedicated to their craft. I'm sure they work very hard to overcome their limitations, and the results end up on the screen.