Unpopular Opinions: Actors

Daniella Nichinson, Guru Ramanathan, Nicole Rosenthal, and Alex Cullina

Actors are the glitz and glory of Hollywood. Us commoners find ourselves fascinated not just with their performances, but with the juicy details of their everyday lives, cementing their places in pop culture. It seems that everyone has some sort of polarizing opinion on either an esteemed or loathed thespian. This is Unpopular Opinions: Actors edition.

John Travolta

Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor

When did John Travolta become the creepy uncle of the entertainment industry? I’ll never understand this growing aversion to Travolta because I always envision him as the amazing actor that he’s been since he entered the scene in the 1970s. Sure, his career has endured painful lows, but it has also reaped tremendous highs. Though he hasn’t had many notable performances of late — except for his acclaimed turn as Robert Shapiro in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” — I believe there’s something great brewing in him. Just look at “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.” Both films showcase his infectious charisma and ravishing looks, as well as his uncanny, inimitable ability to dance. Even now, at 64 years old, the man can still move. But his greatest feat of acting — the performance that resurrected his career — came in 1994 with “Pulp Fiction,” where he starred alongside Samuel L. Jackson as a slightly dim-witted hitman. It’s hard to believe the same man who played Danny Zuko was also responsible for the heroin-using, foot-rubbing connoisseur Vincent Vega. John Travolta may not be at the top of the Hollywood food chain, but I’m sure the next few years will usher a monumental comeback.

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Nicolas Cage

Guru Ramanathan, Film & TV Editor and Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor

To say that Nicolas Cage is a bad actor is to make a claim of the most abominable degree. This sentiment, which seems to be held by many, is somewhat understandable. People tend to have short memories, so when the name Nic Cage comes up in conversation, it evokes thoughts of films like “Ghost Rider” and “Bangkok Dangerous.” Unfortunately, his recent career has been tainted by such shameless blockbusters that it’s easy to forget the stellar performances of his past. Cage has proven for decades his ability to conquer all genres from drama (“Leaving Las Vegas”) to comedy (“Moonstruck”) to action (“Face/Off”) to thriller (“Mandy”). While the Oscar-winning actor has definitely made some questionable film choices in the past decade, his talent cannot be undermined and he only continues to produce an incredible library of work that many actors could only dream of. For every “Ghost Rider” there is also a “Lord of War,” “Kick-Ass” or “Joe” to show that Cage has never missed a step in his acting prowess. Cage’s super expressionistic style is always a joy to watch in any film and can often elevate a weak script to at least some level of entertainment, especially seen in the classic “Vampire’s Kiss.” If you’re still not convinced by his range, Cage played twin brothers in the fantastic “Adaptation” — one who’s self-loathing, pathetic and tormented by writer’s block, the other who’s confident, charismatic and far more successful. With this past September’s release of “Mandy,” his future seems to be bright, as he’s making a name for himself in the indie-film sphere. It’s only a matter of time before people realize, once again, the greatness that runs through Nic Cage’s veins.

Ethan Hawke

Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor

If John Travolta is the creepy uncle of the entertainment industry, then Ethan Hawke is the greasy cousin. Between questionable facial hair and even more questionable fashion choices, it isn’t hard to see why a 1994 Ethan Hawke won People magazine’s “Worst Dressed” and made GQ’s annual Overrated list. In almost every role he has taken on, he seems to give the character an air of that guy; you know, the one who claims to just be a simple guy enjoying simple things. He may even claim to be a nice guy, silently cursing the Chads of the room. Take his performance in “Before Sunrise;” in what is supposed to be his breakout role, Hawke merely regurgitates fragments of Philosophy 101 while making heart eyes at the camera, slicking back his greaseball hair, feigning to understand the concept of love in a span of 24 hours. Swoon.

Christian Bale

Alex Cullina, Books & Theater Editor

I don’t particularly dislike Christian Bale as an actor. He was fine, if a bit understated, in the “Dark Knight” films, an otherwise almost impeccable trilogy, and I’d say the same for his performance in “The Big Short.” To be honest, I’m writing this mostly in reaction to the trailer for the upcoming “Vice,” Adam McKay’s highly anticipated biopic about Dick Cheney’s rise to America’s second-highest office. The trailer’s release blew up the internet, with commenters expressing particular excitement for Bale’s performance; he’s unrecognizable under the pounds of prosthetics required to transform him into the politician, who was more than 15 years older than the actor during the events of the film. From the relatively brief glimpses we get of Bale in the trailer, people are already anticipating an Oscar nomination — but to me, it looks little better than an affected caricature disguised by an admittedly uncanny likeness.

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