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Lead character actors / actresses

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What I don't mean-- I don't mean the leading or top character actors. And I don't mean character actors or actresses who occasionally had a lead role in a film (like Charles Coburn). Instead I mean leading actors who really were character actors.

1. Charlie Chaplin. Always a character, always the same character.
2. Broderick Crawford. Started in support, became a bonafide leading man. But still always played character roles.
3. Jack Lemmon. Definitely not a matinee idol, when movie screens were overpopulated with them in the 50s.
4. Walter Matthau. Hit his stride in the 60s, continued through the 90s. Films like A NEW LEAF, HOUSE CALLS and HOPSCOTCH give him top billing. But he was never playing a conventional leading man, ever.
5. Boris Karloff. Star of horror. But not a traditional leading man in any way. That's what makes him unique.

Honorable mentions: Vincent Price; Orson Welles; Zachary Scott; George Sanders; and Tony Randall. They all perfected certain character types.

*****

1. Carole Lombard. She could do serious dramatic parts, but we remember her for her wacky character roles.
2. Lucille Ball. Usually a flop in dramatic fare. But always a hit when she adopted a screwball persona. Audiences wanted her as a larger than life character, not as another Lana Turner or Ava Gardner.
3. Loretta Young. Like Lombard she could essay dramatic roles. But she's at her best in character roles, such as THE LADY FROM CHEYENNE and THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER and as the conniving nun in COME TO THE STABLE. She was actually very-very funny in real life and probably had a million characters inside that brain of hers. 
4. Rosalind Russell. I think she tried to be a dramatic actress during her early days at MGM, and would return to that approach in films like SISTER KENNY or MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA, but she had too much joie de vivre
5. Judy Holliday. She played a very specific character in all her movies and did it perfectly.

Honorable mentions: Joan Blondell; Olivia de Havilland; Julie Harris; Shelley Winters; and Sheree North. They all perfected certain character types.

Thoughts..?

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6 hours ago, garovick said:

This is interesting. Would Paul Muni make this list?

Good question! He does seem like a character actor to me, specializing in an array of "types," usually historical figures. What would you say?

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20 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Good question! He does seem like a character actor to me, specializing in an array of "types," usually historical figures. What would you say?

Yes, I'd say he definitely belongs on this list. Seems like he was always in character.

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:o

And aren't we all discussing CHARLES BRONSON in a couple of other threads?

I'm guessing the idea is to come up with actors( and actresses) that had at some time "leading" status for several films, but seemed more "character" actors than "traditional" leading men or women.  And in that case----

Throw STEVE McQUEEN on that heap.  ;) 

And, as far as those that "perfected certain character types", place JOHN WAYNE at the top of THAT hill!  ;)

Sepiatone

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29 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

:o

And aren't we all discussing CHARLES BRONSON in a couple of other threads?

I'm guessing the idea is to come up with actors( and actresses) that had at some time "leading" status for several films, but seemed more "character" actors than "traditional" leading men or women.  And in that case----

Throw STEVE McQUEEN on that heap.  ;) 

And, as far as those that "perfected certain character types", place JOHN WAYNE at the top of THAT hill!  ;)

Sepiatone

Yes, it didn't matter who the director was, or who the screenwriter was, Duke was still going to play that same sort of no nonsense tough guy character. Even when it wasn't a western, like the crime thriller BRANNIGAN.

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