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Clowns and Commanders

July 25, 2013

You can’t exactly call the entertainment industry a fair representation of the real world. There are certain formulaic expectations we’ve come to accept after years of movie going and television watching, and so we march into the theaters and sit on our couches understanding the sort of uneasy truce forged after years of exposure.

Your leading man or woman will usually be a supple young creature with flawless skin and charismatic swagger; someone will go on some sort of journey (real or emotional), encounter a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, have sex with someone for the sole purpose of providing a platform to showcase an actors boobs and overcome previously-thought-to-be-terrible odds and triumph in the end.

Over the years, the main characters have been flanked by some impressive wingmen and various other types of fringe players — usually the comic relief or the best friend — and while they are a necessary part of the whole picture, I’ve noticed that this is where the fat characters are usually stuck: Sidekick City.

So it’s always interesting to me when an actor, regardless of size, busts out of this holding pen and right into the leading role without giving any type of shit what you might think about it.

Example #1: Philip Seymour Hoffman


Hoffman as Scotty J. in Boogie Nights

When PSH is on screen, I dare you to look away. I DARE you. He’s played everything from the compelling big guy villain Owen Davian in Mission Impossible III to the absolutely enthralling Lancaster Dodd in The Master, but he always looks appealing doing it. Far be it for me to tell all of you how to feel about his performances, but goddamn you to Hell if you don’t admire a guy who gets you all fired up emotionally and physically when he’s up there on the screen.

Example #2: John Goodman


Goodman as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowsky.

Here’s the thing about JG, he can play either side of the fence and not even break a sweat while he bounds over it. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t do: husband, father, everyman, lunatic, criminal or large blue monster — his range is incredible and his leading man status doesn’t prevent him from taking smaller roles that he turns into pure gold.

Example #3: John Rhys-Davies

Rhys Davies

Rhys-Davies as Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Why we love him: he’s a dashing British juggernaut with a deep commanding voice you recognize instantly; his blockbuster run (James Bond, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings franchises, just to name a few); and a roster of work that dates back to the mid-60s put him comfortably in a league of his own.

Now, you might be scratching your head and wondering where all the women on this list are, and I’ll point you to a post from last year, where erylin touts the skills of a not-yet-hugely-famous Melissa McCarthy, a versatile and hilarious Rebel Wilson and SNL’s Aidy Bryant. We also have an ongoing list of fat actors and actresses, past and present, that you can feel free to contribute to.

How’s that for predicting the future?

Sadly, I feel like the women on this list have had a much harder road to travel than the men, and that the expectations for actresses include a whole list of things that would never be asked of the guys, but we are getting there faster than I would’ve hoped.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Duckie permalink
    July 25, 2013 12:10 pm

    I thought John Goodman was inspirational as the temporary President Walker in the West Wing tv series! He really showed how in some situations, largeness can be used in a very positive and effective way!

    Another fat actor I really love is Stephen Fry. That man is amazing! I love the scene in the most recent Sherlock Holmes movie where he’s naked as Mycroft Holmes! So incredibly funny and wonderful! So abashedly body accepting for that character! I might have a little crush on him!

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