Actors and Writers

…are very interesting people, generally.

(Also saxophonists. But that’s for another time.)

I have a list on my phone of actors I love and also actresses I love. In it I tried to rank the actors based on actual acting and not looks, which is how a lot of my peers decide who their favorite actors or actresses are. This has made me really think about what it must take to be an actress, to really enter into the personality of a character, of a whole other person, and I am really sort of impressed by it.

Also, it relates to writing. Creating a whole other person, hopefully somewhat independent of your own personality. I imagine the ultimate challenge in character development is to create a character who goes against everything you believe in. Probably similar to learning to love your child with open hands when they tell you they hate you, though of course that’s mere speculation.

In the Word window that is behind this Internet one, I am trying to write a novel. (Again.) Most of my characters already have a basis in life, as usual. But we will see what I can do to make the people, even the ones I can’t understand, come alive.

Anyway, I want to write down my favorite actors and actresses and maybe a little bit about why in some cases.

1. Bob Newhart above all others. The man has so much more to him than Elf. I consider him a genius, and I will always appreciate his talent more than anyone else’s.
2. Christopher Eccleston. In addition to being my first and favorite Doctor, he has a certain classicity (is that a word?) to his style. I wonder if he dabbles in Shakespeare at all.
3. Peter Falk. The man is a genius. From Max in The Great Race to Sergeant Columbo to the grandfather in The Princess Bride, he will always be a fantastic actor. I cried when he died.
4. Patrick Stewart. Who doesn’t love Patrick Stewart? Though most of my experience with him encompasses nothing but Star Trek TNG, I adore him. I fangirl a little bit over his friendship with Ian McKellen, and I also think that he needs to appear on Doctor Who very soon.
5. Danny Kaye. I think my list actually contains more British actors than American, but there is no not loving the incredible joy of Danny Kaye’s acting. Singing, dancing, jousting, or leading Rudy Huxtable round his dental office, he was perfect.
6. Geoffrey Palmer. More British telly – As Time Goes By as the immortal Lionel and a delightful appearance in Doctor Who, albeit as the villain. I will always have a soft spot for him.
7. David Tennant and Matt Smith. Because I can never decide which of these Doctors I love more than the other, I won’t. But I do love them, and DT’s Shakespeare career intrigues me more than I can say. I also am very interested in what else Matt Smith might do or have done, and I love these two lunatic Time Lords.
8. Wallace Shawn. I couldn’t end this list without another nod to the best movie of all time, The Princess Bride. Or to the Cosby Show. Wallace Shawn is a fabulous character actor.
9. Jack Lemmon. Nor could I end this list without another nod to the Great Race, or without acknowledging one of my favorite oldies, How to Murder Your Wife, also starring the stellar Lemmon. His wry comedic brilliance is just something.

1. Judi Dench above all others. Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, Jean Hardcastle, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, everything. She is truly superb. I believe her equal to anything, and when I read that she had been considered for the role of the Ninth Doctor, my head nearly exploded. I’m a big enough Nine fan as it is.
2. Suzanne Pleshette. The beautiful, sarcastic, always capable wife of Bob Newhart from the Bob Newhart Show (my very favorite sitcom ever), as well as many other things. She also played adventurous ingenue (of sorts) in If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, which is a lame movie but I loved her in it. She is lovely and classy.
3. Susan Egan. She played Belle in Beauty and the Beast Broadway, and as both the Disney movie and the Broadway show are tangled up in my memories of my earliest years, I love her. I have spent my whole life listening to her astonishing voice. (Side note: I have no idea what her face looks like.)
4. Alex Kingston. There will be lots of Doctor Who actors and actresses among my favorites, but I adore Alex Kingston. Her character is practically impossible, and not only in the context of the show. River Song’s timeline is so convoluted that her character development is difficult. She begins by playing the character in her final moments, then skips back some time, goes backwards a ways, plays the character as she is being born (well, regenerated into), fills in the gap between death and second appearance, and then plays her basically as a supernatural being in a very, very last farewell. What a challenge that must have been.
5. Julie Andrews. Her sensible, lovable, beautiful manner is one of the greatest things in the world. I saw a video of David Tennant receiving some award or other, presented to him by Julie Andrews, and as she recedes into the shadows and he turns to make an acceptance speech, he says, “I’m sorry, whatever else happens in my life I just met Julie Andrews,” and the entire audience squeals, but if that doesn’t illustrate her magnitude I don’t know what does. She is a thing of beauty.
6. Marcia Wallace. She’s best known for Mrs. Krabappel on The Simpsons, but I love her for Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show. Sarcastic, witty, and wonderful, Carol made me laugh on many a weekday night when high school had gotten to me, and I will always love Marcia Wallace for it.
7. Audrey Hepburn. Despite the fact that she has been revived to the point of being screen-printed onto my sister’s wallet, I still love her in My Fair Lady and Roman Holiday. Of the same caliber as Julie Andrews, I will always think she is a wonder.

Oddly enough I suddenly seem to be able to pick favorites more than ever I used to. My favorite color is red, my favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle, my favorite movie is The Princess Bride, my favorite song is “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, my favorite actor and actress are Bob Newhart and Judi Dench, my favorite television show is definitely Doctor Who. I still can’t pick a favorite artist, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to pick a favorite book.

Not that that bothers me.


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