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Actors in Character – Now That is Acting!

There’s no denying the fact that most of us have pretended to be actors. Photographer Howard Schatz, from Vanity Fair, took this idea one step further, place actors in a series of roles and dramatic situations to reveal the essence of their characters.

JOHN SLATTERY

Left: You’re a priest in a hardscrabble factory-town parish, listening to your brother’s son confess that he has killed a man. Center: You’re a gangsta rapper being informed by a haughty bouncer that you are not on the list. Right: You’re a six-year-old who has skinned his knee in the playground, waiting to cry until your mom gets off her cell phone.

TRACY MORGAN

Left: You’re a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike, watching as she takes a header on her first solo try. Center: You’re the cat that ate the canary. Right: You’re a man in denial, figuring that if you don’t listen to your girlfriend’s breakup speech she’ll stick with you.

BRENDAN FRASER

Left: You’re a factory foreman with $200 riding on the game, watching your team’s placekicker muff a 23-yarder with 0:01 remaining. Center: You’re a first-time skydiver, reacting to your instructor’s saying it’s your turn: “What? Can’t hear you! Sorry … what?” Right: You’re in the back row of sixth-grade health class, exulting with your pal in the fact that your female teacher just uttered the word “penis.”

RICKY GERVAIS

Left: You’re the office toady, having a dutiful laugh over your boss’s latest racist joke—and all too aware that everyone else at work hates you. Center: You’re a Miss Universe finalist in the nanosecond between being named fifth runner-up and remembering to flash your best I’m-so-happy smile. Right: You’re the school doofus, blissfully unaware that your having just been named prom king is a cruel, Carrie-style stunt by your classmates.

KEN JEONG

Left: You’re the new longboarder on the secret beach with the famous break, preparing for the onslaught from the territorial locals. Center: You’re a suburban car dealer demonstrating in your three a.m. ad slot how much your customers $$$AVE when they come to you! Right: You’re a Romanian gymnastics coach, exasperated at the failings of your 12-year-old star pupil, screaming, “You are imbecile!”

JASON SCHWARTZMAN

Left: You’re Adam, a five-year-old boy sneaking your pet rat into your seven-year-old sister’s underwear drawer. Center: You’re Lacey, the seven-year-old sister, having just opened the drawer. Right: YYou’re Adam, hiding in Lacey’s closet as she screams, “Adaaaaaam!!!”

LAURENCE FISHBURNE

Left: You’re a broke, struggling screenwriter emerging from a pitch lunch at a Beverly Hills restaurant, just in time to see a landscaper’s pickup back into your borrowed Lamborghini. Center: You’re a stoned, purely mercenary substitute teacher telling your third-graders, “Anyone who makes any noise while I’m resting will be sent home to Mommy in several little boxes.” Right: You’re a nerdy 11-year-old video gamer surrounded by BlizzCon posters and fellow nerds, and you’re taking this particular session of World of Warcraft waaay too seriously.

HOPE DAVIS

Left: You’re fresh out of the Yale School of Drama, desperately overselling Lady Macbeth’s “Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!” speech at a summer-rep audition. Center: You’re a 13-year-old girl, seething as your precocious younger brother is heaped with lavish praise at an extended-family gathering. Right: You’re a lonely woman with a stalker’s crush on a TV star, spotting him coming out of a restaurant and certain that he is making a beeline toward you!

JANE LYNCH

Left: You’re a child swallowing a spoonful of medicine that your mom promised would taste good, and now she’s telling you that if it didn’t taste awful it wouldn’t work. Center: You’re at a social dinner with your work colleagues and their spouses, desperately trying to signal your partner to stop talking so freely about your shared sex life. Right: You’re a bunny-level skier who has decided to try a black-diamond slope, and now, with no idea how to stop, you’re headed straight for a tree.

BROOKE SHIELDS

Left: You’re a celebrity guest at a White House state dinner, forced out of desperation to finally confront the creepy “nobody” crasher who has been trying to catch your attention all evening. Center: You’re a Kansas homemaker on vacation in Vegas, enjoying the stage show of the hypnotist, who has successfully programmed his volunteer (your husband) to quack like a duck. Right: You’re in the fourth row of a high-school auditorium, watching as your 15-year-old daughter begins singing Annie Oakley’s “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”—and freezes halfway through.

THOMAS HADEN CHURCH

Left: You’re the head of the Naples Mob, listening to a young lieutenant announce that he’s branching off to form his own operation: “That’s O.K. by you, right, boss?” Center: You’re a gay decorator who has just been hired to “do” one of the emir’s palaces, but first, says his deputy, the emir insists upon having you over to dinner … with your wife. Right: You’re a 15-year-old emerging from a college party (where you’re not supposed to be), watching some frat boys abscond with your dad’s Lamborghini (which you’re not supposed to have).

JANE KRAKOWSKI

Left: You’re a finalist on America’s Next Top Model who is hearing Tyra tell the other girl she’s out—and you’re prepping to give your nemesis a “sincere” hug. Center: You’re a stand-up comic performing at a Toronto showcase packed with S.N.L. and HBO scouts—and your “lesbian chickens” bit is utterly tanking. Right: You’re, like, 15, and he’s, like, 17, and even tho U have only ever said, like, “Hey” in the hallways, he’s just texted 2 ask U 2 B his D8 @ the prom!!! the prom!!!

JEFF DANIELS

Left: You’re an N.B.A. power forward who’s been lightly grazed by an opponent, flailing and wincing with Oscar-worthy panache to elicit a foul call. Center: You’re an insufferable epicure at a revered restaurant in Lyon, having an out-of-body experience on your very first bite. Right: You’re a high-school freshman who’s just been publicly hazed by a bullying senior, skulking away ashamedly—but getting the last word.

GEOFFREY RUSH

Left: You’re the cornerman for a winded female boxer, desperately exhorting her: “She’s run away with your boyfriend! She’s kidnapped your kid! Get out there and kill that heifer!” Center: You’re five years into a contented but sedentary married life, protesting to your wife, “I said you’re ‘Rubenesque.’ It doesn’t mean fat. It means … Rubenesque!” Right: You’re a 10-year-old in a high-rise apartment, playing fetch with your fox terrier and a tennis ball—which has just bounced out the window, with your dog in full pursuit.

JEFF GOLDBLUM

Left: You’re the surly 14-year-old son of a single mother, steeling yourself as she awkwardly, haltingly begins a belated and unnecessary “birds and bees” talk. Center: You’re at your daughter’s college graduation, and the pretty classmate of hers that you’ve been secretly ogling has just said, “Mr. Lefkowitz, you can’t be 58—you’re too cool!” Right: You’re the valedictorian of your high-school class, having just been introduced to give the speech of your young life—and your mind has gone completely blank.

GREG KINNEAR

Left: You’re a rookie cop whose sergeant is telling you that the boy you just killed was holding a cell phone, not a gun. Center: You’re a city kid using a telescope to spy on people in other buildings—and catching your math teacher in bed with your guidance counselor. Right: You’re a presidential candidate at an epic meet-and-greet fund-raiser, holding that smile in place as you work the endless rope line.

JOHN GOODMAN

Left: You’re a geek flirting with a cheerleader, unaware that you don’t stand a chance. Center: You’re departing the nursing home where your wife resides; it is your first visit in which she didn’t recognize you. Right: You’re a college basketball coach, on the cusp of an N.C.A.A. tournament berth, screaming at the referee, knowing that if you’re ejected, your boys will turn it up a notch.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Left: You’re the ever obeisant wife of a charismatic televangelist, and you’ve just learned that a male prostitute is about to go public with his story of a years-long affair with your husband. Center: You’re a fabulously wealthy Fifth Avenue matron, greeting your building’s doormen—whom you never tip—with a cheery “Merry Christmas!” Right: You’re Barbara Walters, interviewing a recently divorced actress about her latest movie, suddenly going for the jugular with the question “Did it hurt more that he left you for a younger woman?”

MARISKA HARGITAY

Left: You’re a middle-aged woman at your mother’s hospital bedside as she hovers near death, remembering the quarrel you had with her when you were last together. Center: You’re a perky gal in your 20s whose boyfriend of two years has asked you to close your eyes because he has a very special surprise for you! Right: You’re a six-year-old at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the first time, startled by a bang from a huge cannon and the sight of a sleek, silver-clad woman flying high above the crowd in an arc.

DAVID STRATHAIRN

Left: You’re a 9-year-old boy hearing about the details of sex for the first time from your 16-year-old brother. Center: You’re an evangelical preacher, screaming to your flock, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, JESUS!” Right: You’re an ex-jock dad, apoplectic over the penalty the soccer ref has called against your seven-year-old son for a tackling foul.

MICHAEL DOUGLAS

Left: You’re a man whose daughter has been missing for two months. You’ve been called in by the police to identify the body of a young murder victim. The sheet is pulled back … and the victim isn’t your daughter. Center: You’re a boy at a freakish carnival, watching a pierced performer munch live cockroaches. Right: You’re a 14-year-old girl who’s just opened her 18-year-old sister’s bedroom door to find her having sex with her boyfriend.

JOHN LEGUIZAMO

Left: You are a hostage in a desert prison camp, overhearing your buddy being tortured in the adjacent room, knowing you’re next. Center: You are a four-year-old boy at a new, “realistic” dinosaur theme park, getting a lick on the head from a 50-foot-long mechanical brontosaurus. Right: You are a heroin addict begging your dealer to give you a fix, promising you’ll pay him later, really.

AMY POEHLER

Left: You are sneaking a peek, in the middle of the night, at your sweet new boyfriend’s computer … and discovering e-mails to and from his three current “other” girlfriends. Center: You are a Park Avenue matron, paying your husband a surprise visit at his office and discovering him on the couch in flagrante delicto with his secretary. Right: You are a disoriented homeless woman being arrested for loitering.

HUGH LAURIE

Left: You are a dedicated father who, with your wife, has just sat down to dinner with your 15-year-old daughter, who is defiantly announcing that she’s pregnant. Center: You are a fashion designer on the morning of your big runway show, realizing that nothing in the collection is ready or fabulous. Right: You are a blustering, pompous member of the British Parliament, giving a speech that is being broadcast on the BBC, and you’re thrilled at the sound of your own voice.

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