A great acting performance, just like a great film is something that stays with you for a very long time and upon each revisit, there is something new to discover. To create a truly haunting performance, the actor needs to touch or resonate with something inside of you. Great acting performances are unforgettable but a haunting performance has more to it, an extra layer of psychology that unnerves you and is impossible to shake. A great haunted acting performance will grip you tightly, overwhelm you and force you to remember it, even if it disturbs and shocks you to the core.
Here’s ten examples of the above;
10. Nicolas Cage – Leaving Las Vegas
1995′s Leaving Las Vegas is the film that got Nicholas Cage an Oscar and though you wouldn’t believe it the way his career has regressed, he more than deserved it. Cage plays Ben, who goes to Las Vegas to literally drink himself to death. Cage does acting drunk better than anyone without it looking silly or unintentionally funny. Leaving Las Vegas is based on John O’Brien’s novel of the same name which is a semi-autobiographical account of O’Brien’s life. O’Brien committed suicide two weeks into the film’s production, which is a good indicator of how unbearably sad and tough the movie is.
Cage ventures into the darkest corners of his soul to bring this performance out, he’s a tragic man, absorbed in self-pity, but he never gets inane or tiresome because of the raw humanity Cage brings to the role. Cage makes us care for Ben, to support him and beg for him to overcome his crippling demons. He doesn’t, and it’s a sucker-punch of an ending even though you know it’s inevitable. Cage makes you believe he is Ben and it is a small consolation he dies holding somebody he loves. Leaving Las Vegas is a dark and sad film, but importantly, it is so human and completely unforgettable.
This article was first posted on February 3, 2013