Recently the film Righteous Kill was released in theaters. Now let me start by saying that I’ve not yet seen it, I’m planning on it, but not yet. It stars two actors you may have heard of; Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. These two are widely acknowledged as two of the “greatest” actors of our time. Since this movie was announced I though, “Yeah they’re good, but are they really the greatest?” I’d have to say no.

As I write this I have IMDB open in another window and am looking at their filmographies. While both have some truly brilliant films in their repertoire; Raging Bull, Serpico, Godfathers 1-3 (yes I count 3 as brilliant), Awakenings, and Scent of a Woman etc etc. I probably didn’t list some that you may enjoy, but between the two they’ve acted in round about 100 movies. However while they have many great films, there are lots of bad movies among the list where they both seem to only be playing themselves, or some variation on themselves. I realize that many actors, in fact many of my favorite actors regularly play the same character over and over again. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if we are going to call someone “Greatest” then they should really earn the title.

Now if I’m going to say they are not, as any strongly opinionated geek should I’m going to give you my pick for “Greatest” His name is Gary Oldman. Now stop and think about this for a second…….. Have you thought? Good. He has himself been in, according to IMDB, 59 films. These cover a wide range, and in each he plays a totally different character. Off the top of my head I don’t think I’ve ever seen and interview with him, and thanks to his wide range of work I have no idea who he actually is. Think about these films; Harry Potter, Batman Begins, The Professional, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, J.F.K., and Sid and Nancy. Some you may have seen, and some not. But think about the films that I’ve listed and for one try to think about who he played in each film, then compare them and see how many similarities there are. You won’t find many.

Here is his IMDB page for reference.

If variety is the spice of life, then it should also be a good measuring stick for greatness.


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  • zohner

    I really like Pacino and DeNiro but, you’re right, they have been in some not too good movies. As for Gary Oldman, he’s freaking brilliant. If you see a movie with an actor and don’t know that he’s in it due to his awesomeness, that’s the mark of a great actor.

  • I really like Gary Oldman, but I would have to say that his roles in Air Force One and Lost In Space were awfully similar. I think it’s because one started shooting right as another ended, so he looks the exact same in both.

  • Dr Squishy

    I guess I could see the comparison between a weaselly back stabbing doctor who chooses every word carefully. To an ex Soviet terrorist who screams, rants, and gets right in the face of anyone who opposes him. True both were sporting the mustache goatee, and short hair, but other than that very very different. Then compare that to the villain he played just the year before in the Fifth Element.

  • Oh yeah; Zorg was a complete departure from other roles. In fact, he was a complete departure from all other villains!

  • Gory Oldmon

    Great post. I agree, De Niro and Pacino and Nicholson and a whole bunch of so-called “greats” basically play themselves over and over again thinking they’re ‘acting’. Gary is different in every role. Check out the first 10 minutes of Chattahoochee. Amazing. I also think he’s done an amazing job as Commish Gordon.