The sign of a truly great performer is their ability to disappear completely inside of a character, to the point the audience forgets they’re even looking at an actor at all. Not an easy feat, and while some performers – say, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep – seem to do it effortlessly, in other cases their own personas slip through somewhere.
It could be in their body language or speech mannerism, but when you’re watching a star like Tom Cruise, it’s bloody difficult to switch off and think of him as anyone else but Tom Cruise: Movie Star. Some actors also develop specific “tics” they keep recycling, whether it’s Cruise running away from – or maybe into – explosions, Harrison Ford’s angry finger pointing or Kirsten Stewart gasping every twenty seconds.
Those are the obvious examples, but other famous actors have little recognisable quirks that keep popping up time and again. They’re often just little unconscious gestures they probably don’t even realise they’re making, and chances are most fans wouldn’t notice them unless somebody points it out. So here are some of the most overused tics by some of the world's biggest actors, and what they're supposed to mean.
8. Eddie Murphy's "Bruce Lee" Look
Alongside the famous laugh – and making an impressive number of terrible family movies – there’s another Eddie Murphy tradition that has probably slipped by most people.
It started about during production of his first movie 48 Hrs, where he was nervous he wouldn’t look convincing holding a gun, and the only idea he could think of was to copy Bruce Lee’s signature style of darting his eyes around intensely. So that’s what he did, which turned him from wisecracker into badass instantly.
It was so successful he copied it for any subsequent action role. including the Beverly Hills Cop movies, Another 48 Hours., I Spy and Showtime. Besides being a funny piece of trivia, it’s also a heartfelt homage on Murphy’s part, who was a big fan of the martial artist and states Lee is the only actor he’s ever consciously copied.