An A-Z of Actors: O

A tricky letter, as not that many acting surnames start with ‘O’. I will limit myself to just three selections, to give some scope for your own choices.

A British stage, film, and television actor, Clive Owen is well known on both sides of The Atlantic. Rising to stardom on British TV in ‘The Chancer’, following an early stage career at The Young Vic, in London. Critical acclaim followed a lead role in Stephen Poliakoff’s film, ‘Close My Eyes’ (1991), and he went on to make an impact in ‘Gosford Park’ (2001). More mainstream roles followed, including parts in ‘The Bourne Identity’ (2002), and ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ (2003). Since then, his career has been on a roll, starring in ‘King Arthur’ (2004), ‘Closer’ (2004), ‘Sin City’ (2005), and ‘Inside man’ (2006). That same year, he received great reviews for his role in ‘Children of Men’, and the following year, starred in both ‘Shoot Em Up’, and ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’. Since then, he has made 18 more films, with the most recent due to be released in 2019.

Irish-born actress Maureen O’Hara started out as a singer and amateur actress, in her home city of Dublin. In 1937, she was offered a contract by a production company headed by Charles Laughton, and embarked on a film and television career that lasted until 2010. As well as working with Laughton in ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’ (1939), she also made five films for John Ford, including ‘How Green Was My Valley’ (1941), and ‘The Quiet Man’ (1952), starring opposite John Wayne. Other successes included the pirate epic, ‘The Black Swan’ (1942), ‘Miracle On 34th Street’ (1947), and ‘Our Man In Havana’ (1959). She died in 2015, aged 95.

My last choice today, is Londoner Gary Oldman. He has worked on stage, screen and TV since 1979, getting his film break in Mike Leigh’s ‘Meantime’, in 1983. He continued to work with The Royal Shakespeare Company, but got additional attention for his film roles in ‘Sid And Nancy’ (1986), and ‘Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a biopic of playwright Joe Orton. He made the transition to playing American characters, with a role in ‘State Of Grace’ (1990), followed by his outstanding performance as Lee Harvey Oswald, in Oliver Stone’s film, ‘JFK’ (1991). Villainous roles suit him well too, and he played the bad guy in ‘True Romance’ (1993), ‘Leon’ (1994), and ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997). As well as roles in the Harry Potter films, and The Dark Knight Batman films, he most recently won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, in ‘The Darkest Hour’ (2017).

31 thoughts on “An A-Z of Actors: O

  1. Of course, I also nominate Gary Oldman (“True Romance” / “LΓ©on: The Professional” / “The Fifth Element”) and Peter O’Toole (“Lawrence of Arabia” / “How to Steal a Million” / “The Stunt Man”). Obviously, I also thought of Maureen O’Hara and Laurence Olivier. Everyone thought of those names!

    So I’m going to add a couple of O’Connors: Donald (“Singin’ in the Rain” / “There’s No Business Like Show Business”), and, just for the heck of it, RenΓ©e (primarily for her TV role at Gabrielle in “Xena: Warrior Princess”).

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  2. Great post πŸ™‚ As for Gary Oldman, I am so glad you mentioned Sid & Nancy. He was just electrifying in that. I mean he is always great (with maybe a few notable exceptions), but he just threw everything he had into that performance. Speaking of which, that film was directed by one of my many favorite filmmakers and that was Alex Cox. But you probably knew that already πŸ™‚ Not only that, but he introduces films in such an insightful and fascinating way. I could watch his (and Mark Cousins) many different Moviedrome intros all day on youtube. Same sentiments apply for Derek Malcolm when he introduced films on BBC’s “Film Club.” Again, I live in the States, but after finding a lot of the videos on youtube, I just became enthralled and had to seek more out. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

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    1. Oldman really caught the essence of Sid, I agree. I like him very much as Joe Orton and Lee Harvey Oswald (“I’m just the patsy”), but he irritated me in Leon. I admire Cox’s film ‘Walker’, with the out of historical context use of helicopters, lighters, etc. And Ed Harris was on top form too.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I love your inclusion of Gary Oldman. That man is great. My favourite performance of his will always remaining of Stansfield in Leon. It was so powerful, and simply unforgettable. I am not a fan of Clive Owen, though. It annoys me that he sometimes has this half-dumb bewildering facial expression reminiscent of Brendan Fraser’s. As for me, apart from American Olsen twins + Elisabeth Olsen, nothing comes immediately to mind!

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    1. I know what you mean about Owen, but I liked him in ‘Croupier’, and ‘Close My Eyes’. I also thought ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ was silly, but great fun. I actually think Oldman went over-the-top in Leon, but still love the film. I liked him a lot as George Smiley, in ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.
      Many thanks for leaving a comment.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Gary Oldman would have been my first choice too, but at least you’ve left me Peter O’Toole who I loved as Lawrence of Arabia when I first saw it. Have my own remastered copy of course.
    Also Miranda Otto, I first saw her as Eowyn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but also she was a really good baddy in the TV series Homeland. She’s been in many movies and TV series, but never seems to have that celebrity status, which I think is probably a good thing!

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