My favorite performances are when an actor takes huge risks, makes bold choices, yet still does so in service of the script. Two that immediately come to mind are Gena Rowlands in “Opening Night” and Daniel Day Lewis in “There Will Be Blood.”
They’re out there on the edge. Risking complete disaster. Borderline too much. Too big. But not. Just perfect. Riveting. Scary. Unpredictable. Sublime.
Besides incredible material, you need a director who encourages this kind of risk taking. Who creates a safe, non judgmental space that inspires you to go for it. Yet…because we can’t see ourselves when we act, we have to trust them to pull us back if it’s over the top. Or doesn’t serve the story. If you’re lucky enough to find this person, cherish them for life.
Gena had Cassavetes. Daniel had PTA. Not too shabby.
P.S. – This scene. And this scene.