Presenting the Small Roles… Big Performances Blogathon!

Welcome to FlixChatter’s

The idea of this blog-a-thon is to…

Shine a spotlight on the ‘unsung heroes’ if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness & entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don’t get the credit they so deserve.

You can read the full blogathon guidelines here.

I apologize if I’m not being clear about the date of when the post is supposed to go live. It’s no biggie though, I’m just thrilled of the turnout of this blogathon and seeing people turn the spotlight on a lot of talented-yet-underrated actors.

FlixChatter’s contributor Becky (aka PrairieGirl)’s and frequent commenter Dave W (aka Daveackackattack) are also participating. Check out their posts below, as well as one from yours truly:

James Purefoy in A Knight’s Tale + James Marsden in Enchanted & Superman Returns Stephen Graham in This Is England + Stacy Edwards in The Company of Men
Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress

Here are the full participants in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Thanks so much everyone for taking part! 

P.S. I’ll still be taking submissions all week long so if you want to take part, just drop the link in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list!

Please help spread the word around via Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. and if you have Twitter, please use hashtag #smallrolesbigperformances to help promote the event!


Small Roles Big Performances – James Purefoy + James Marsden

For this blogathon, somehow both Becky and I settled on the actor with the first name James… and both playing a Prince! It’s pure coincidence by the way, but it works out great that they’re two very different actors, one Brit and one American, but both are not only easy on the eye but very talented yet massively underrated.

Visit the main blogathon post to see the full list of participants by clicking the banner above.

James Purefoy – A Knight’s Tale  (2001) 

Genre: adventure comic fantasy romance
Character(s): Sir Thomas Colville / Edward, the Black Prince of Wales

Every time I think of A Knight’s Tale (2001), I giggle, pinch myself, then remind myself (again) that my two favorite actors, Rufus Sewell and James Purefoy, (who both happen to be English, and who both happen to have attended the same drama school in London) are actually TOGETHER in the same film. So dreams really CAN come true! Rufus has a prominent role as antagonist Count Adhemar, whereas James appears only briefly in three short, but significant scenes.
The story (from Wikipedia): 
The film follows the story of William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), a peasant masquerading as a knight, along with his companions in the world of medieval jousting. William poses as a knight and competes in tournaments, winning accolades and acquiring friendships with such historical figures as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Geoffrey Chaucer. The story, concisely, in just 12 words (from an IMDb review): It’s like Top Gun, but with horses and lances instead of jets.
First scene (from Wikipedia):
In this joust, William faces Sir Thomas Colville, who withdraws from the tournament after being injured by William, though they exchange a ceremonial pass so that Colville might retain the honor of never having failed to complete a match.
Second scene: 
In their next tournament together, William realizes the knight calling himself Sir Thomas Colville is actually Edward, Prince of Wales, also known (affectionately) as the Black Prince. The film implies there is a custom encouraging knights to withdraw from competition against royalty in order to cause no harm. Count Adhemar quickly withdraws as he receives confirmation that Colville is really the prince. You can see the immediate disappointment in Edward’s face as he realizes he may not be jousting this day. William is expected to withdraw also. But he has come lance to lance with Edward before and senses his eagerness to engage and doesn’t withdraw, which earns him great respect from Edward. Their match is a draw. Before leaving the field, they both recognize each other from their first meeting, and William acknowledges him as prince. Edward: “You knew me? And still you rode?” William: “It’s not in me to withdraw.”  Edward: “Nor me.”
Interestingly, Prince Edward is not a fictional character. He lived from 1330 to 1376. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular during his lifetime. He died before his father, Edward III, which makes him the only English Prince of Wales never to be King of England. His throne passed instead to his son Richard II.
Third scene (towards the end of the film):
William is arrested for forging papers claiming he was a knight. Prince Edward seeks him out. Here, James is regal, assertive and authoritative, yet deeply compassionate. He orders William to be released from the stocks. The prince draws his sword, touches it to William’s shoulders, and thereby bestows knighthood upon him. He is now Sir William. This leaves him totally free to pursue his goal: winning the jousting championship against Count Adhemar and earning the hand of his desired Jocelyn. It is in this last scene where the noble Prince Edward (and James’ superb acting skills) shines:

I LOVE the costume designer who cloaked James in that subtly embroidered, fur-lined, full length earth-colored coat over a white, deep V-collar shirt that shows off just the right amount of… ummm, well, I think you know what I mean 😉 … I could easily get carried away here (smile). It surely helps that James is tall, dark, and alarmingly handsome.
James has had leading roles in film, but a vast amount of his work has been in television, both here in the US and the UK. His exceptional, standout role was playing Marc Antony in the HBO series Rome (2005-2007, appearing in all 22 episodes). Beginning January 2013 (in the US), he is co-staring with Kevin Bacon in the new Fox criminal thriller TV series The Following.
Spending so much time with James while writing this has left me almost breathless, and … well, you know, yes, never mind, again. But hey, I’m just taking one for the team… team FlixChatter, that is.
So, have you seen A Knight’s Tale? If so, did James’ performance stand out for you too? Let us know!

James Marsden – Enchanted (2007)

Genre: fairy tale romantic comedy
Character: Prince Edward
I don’t exactly know when I first beheld James Marsden, but I’ve always liked the guy. Not only is he drop-dead gorgeous with to-die-for cheekbones, the Oklahoma native can sing! You might’ve seen an episode where he sang You’re Always On My Mind on Ally McBeal,  and of course in the musical Hairspray. I always notice him in various supporting roles he did in The Notebook, Superman Returns and X-Men. On Superman Returns, I found myself rooting for his character, Richard White, as the nice guy who has to deal with his fiancee’s ex coming back into her life. He could’ve easily been written as a jerk but I’m glad they didn’t and Marsden sympathetic portrayal makes him a memorable character in that movie.
He’s obviously quite a versatile actor who can jump from genre to genre, doing an animated feature like Hop to dark thrillers like the Straw Dog remake in the same year! The youthful-looking 29-year-old also has wonderful comic chops that makes him perfect to play Prince Edward in Enchanted! I thought he was well, enchanting as the fish-out-of-water character from fairytale land stranded in modern day New York City. The second he popped out of the manhole complete in his royal attire, I knew he’d be the scene stealer of the whole movie! Lethargic Patrick Dempsey can’t hold a candle to Marsden’s vibrant and amusing performance, he’s just delightfully oblivious!
I love the scene in the hotel room where he mistakes the TV for being the magic mirror, ahah, and of course the whole singing thing in Dempsey’s apartment. Every time the daft prince shows up, the movie just hits a high note for me. I mean, just the scene of him walking with Giselle on the Brooklyn bridge with the Liberty statue hat is a hoot. I really don’t remember much about Dempsey’s character in this movie, but I definitely remember Prince Edward!
Here’s a clip of all Prince Edward scenes from the movie. Enjoy!

Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon

Thoughts on Purefoy or Marsden’s performances? Well let’s hear it!

Small Roles Big Performances: Stephen Graham & Stacy Edwards

Thanks to Dave Whiddon aka Daveackackattack for his excellent contribution to the blogathon. Visit the main blogathon post to see the full list of participants by clicking the banner above.

Stephen Graham in This Is England

Stephen Graham’s big break came in Guy Ritchie’s gritty, gangster movie Snatch. The British actor’s tough guy exterior landed him supporting roles in Public Enemies as Baby Face Nelson and on Boardwalk Empire as Al Capone but nowhere was he better than as Combo in Shane Meadows’s semi-autobiographical This Is England.

It’s the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a shy, 12 year old boy, growing up in England under Margaret Thatcher’s rule in ’84. His father having been killed in the Falklands War he is raised by his doting mother Cynthia. Bullied at school Shaun feels alienated from the other kids. He soon befriends a group of skinheads who initiate him into their group.

(These skinheads aren’t the neo-Nazi, white power skinheads that you know today. See the Skinhead wiki page.) His mother is not too sure about the group at first. They dress him up in typical skinhead garb (shaved head, Dr. Martens, suspenders, button-down shirt, rolled up jeans) much to her dismay but they do protect him from some bullies at school so his she is grateful for that. Everything is going good until Combo, an older skin from the group, comes home from prison. He enters the screen with the ferocity of a rabid pit bull.

Charismatic but volatile … he’s the kind of dangerous guy who you just never know when he might turn on you. Combo soon makes a derogatory remark about the Falklands War and young Shaun takes a swing at him defending his father who died for that war. Impressed at Shaun’s fearlessness Combo takes him under his wing. Unfortunately Combo introduces Shaun to his racist side which leads Shaun to take part in what is known as Paki bashing. A bit later.

Combo feels it’s time to introduce Shaun to his friends aligned with the white-only nationalist National Front party. In reality Combo’s a lonely and insecure man covered by his tough guy exterior. Later on in an intimate scene we see Combo as he breaks down in front of a girl, whom he has misplaced feelings for, who rejects him coldly. Scorned by the girl he felt for he lets loose his rage on a friend of the group. Shaun, a witness to Combo’s actions, must decide for himself if this is the path he wants to go down. Stephen Graham skillfully shows a sympathetic side to what would normally be a one dimensional character. His explosive performance is electric, tense and oddly touching. Artfully directed, perfectly scored and realistically acted this small film about a boy growing up in Thatcher’s England struck a chord with me even though I myself grew up in America in the 80’s. This is one of my very favorite films.

I highly recommend anyone who is planning on seeing the movie skipping the fan made montage clip below. Ludovico Einaudi’s “Fuori Dal Mondo” from the film plays over the montage. Enjoy.

Stacy Edwards in In The Company of Men

You might remember Stacy Edwards as Michael Cera’s big breasted mom in one of the opening scenes in Superbad. Sadly she probably was seen by more people for that than for her role in Neil Labute’s film adaptation of his scathing take on white, male dominated, corporate America in In the Company of Men. In the film Stacy plays a deaf woman who’s just another worker in a secretarial pool in some nameless, average, everyday company.

The story starts when two middle management types, Chad (Aaron Eckhart in a breakout role) and Howard (Matt Malloy), are temporarily assigned to her branch office for six weeks. Chad devises a ploy with Howard to get back at all the women who have ever wronged them while they are there. Chad decides to pick out an average woman whom they will simultaneously ask out, date, shower with attention and then dump unceremoniously when their business there is over. Howard reluctantly goes along after some convincing by Chad. Chad soon picks out Christine after learning she is deaf thinking she’ll more than welcome the attention from the two men. As the plan progresses things fall apart when one of the men falls for the genuinely sweet Christine.

What happens from here I won’t say but it’s devastatingly heart wrenching to watch. Chad is a clearly a sociopath and Howard is just another schlep following the herd so it’s Stacy’s performance (she’s not deaf in real life) that gives the film its weight and real emotional punch. It’s hard enough to pull off a character with a hearing impairment let alone making you really feel like you know what she’s going through.

The film was considered controversial because of the absolute brutality of the misogynistic dialogue and plot. In the Company of Men was even named to Premiere Magazine’s “The 25 Most Dangerous Movies Ever Made”. It’s one of those films that, if you can get past the low budget indie feel of it, you won’t shake easily thanks in part to Stacy Edwards’ heartbreaking performance. Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart. You may not like it but you won’t be able to ignore it.

Small Roles … Big Performances Blogathon

Thoughts on either one of these performances? Well let’s hear it!