An A-Z of Actors: R

I know these tend to drag on, but please continue to add your own choices in the comments.

Gena Rowlands is an American actress who has been active for more than sixty years. She has won four Emmy awards, two Golden Globes, and has also been nominated for an Oscar, finally receiving an honorary one, in 2015. For over thirty years, she was married to the actor and film-maker John Cassavetes, and appeared in many of his films. After drama school, Gena toured with various theatrical companies, and also worked on television before her collaborations with her husband, on ten films together. In 1974, she won awards for her outstanding role in ‘A Woman Under The Influence’, with her portrayal of a disturbed housewife. More critical acclaim followed in 1980, with the wonderful lead role in ‘Gloria’, as the mobster’s moll who tries to help a young boy being hunted by the Mafia. She has rarely stopped working, with parts in films during every year of the 1980s and 1990s, including notable roles in various TV mini-series too. In 2004, she co-starred in ‘The Notebook’, directed by her son, Nick.

Charlotte Rampling is still popular, in her seventies. As a model and singer too, she became one of the faces of ‘The Swinging Sixties’ in England. After an early role in ‘Georgy Girl’ (1966), she went on to be cast in numerous European films, often taken under the wing of a famous director at the time. As well as her film work, she continued to appear in British and American TV dramas, and she has won numerous European awards for Best Actress, during her long career. Some of her film roles might surprise you, but you may well remember the titles. ‘The Damned’ (1969), ‘The Night Porter’ (1974), ‘Zardoz’ (1974), a strange sci-fi, opposite Sean Connery. ‘The Verdict’ (1982), with Paul Newman, ‘Angel Heart’ (1987), with Mickey O’Rourke, and the French film, ‘Under The Sand’ (2000). In 2015, she was outstanding in the British film ’45 Years’, and she also appeared in the recent ‘Red Sparrow’ (2018).

English actor Mark Rylance already had a distinguished career as a stage actor and television regular, before becoming noticed in films. For ten years, he was artistic director of the restored Globe Theatre, in London, and he has won Tony awards and BAFTAs, for various roles. In 2015, he excelled in the role of Thomas Cromwell, in the BBC adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’, as well as winning the Oscar for best supporting actor, in the film ‘Bridge Of Spies’. He then went on to appear in Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ (2017), and in Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’, this year.

Someone who gets little recognition outside of the UK, Saskia Reeves has had a long and distinguished career, mostly in supporting roles. But her performances are never less than powerful, and she deserves to be better known. Her work so far has led her to collaborate with some of the best, including Mike Leigh, and Stephen Poliakoff. She was outstanding as the incestuous lover, in ‘Close My Eyes’ (1991), and went on to co-star in many TV series and adaptations, including ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1999), and ‘Island At War’ (2004). Later roles saw her starring opposite Idris Elba, in the wonderful BBC drama, ‘Luther’, and in David Hare’s ‘Collateral’ (2018).

I have to finish with one of my favourite British actresses, Miranda Richardson. Her work on stage, screen, and television began in 1981, before she was cast as the true-life killer, Ruth Ellis, in the simply superb ‘Dance With A Stranger’ (1985), where she starred opposite the distinguished Ian Holm, and Rupert Everett. At the same time, she was demonstrating a huge talent for comedy, in the long-running BBC series, ‘Blackadder’, with Stephen Fry, and Rowan Atkinson. Her film career continued, with ‘Empire Of The Sun’ (1987), the wonderful ‘The Crying Game’ (1991), and ‘Damage’ (1992), which earned her a BAFTA. Since then, her career has continued unabated. ‘The Hours’ (2002), ‘The Young Victoria’ (2008), ‘Harry Potter’ (2010), and ‘Churchill’ (2017). She is undoubtedly one of the finest modern British actresses.

49 thoughts on “An A-Z of Actors: R

  1. Believe it for not Mark Rylance voices a character called, “Flop” on Little O’s favourite CBeebies show, Bing. Flop is, a sort of rabbit thing that is the sort of parent of a different kind of rabbit thing called, Bing. It’s very hard to explain unless you’ve watched it. We even have a stuffed Flop that Little O sometimes sleeps with. On the flip side I have also seen him play Richard III at The Globe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is only one left that has not been named yet: Eddie Redmayne!
    I watched him in “Elizabeth I”, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “The Pillars of the Earth” and “My Week with Marilyn”. He is a very good actor.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post πŸ™‚ Three of my favorites are here as well πŸ™‚ Charlotte Rampling is still a beautiful and daring actress with an impressive resume. Gena Rowlands has always been an impressive actress as well and her presence is always welcome too. Thank you for including Miranda Richardson as well, who is still highly underrated in my opinion. Her performance in David Cronenberg’s Spider is every bit as amazing as that of that film’s lead actor Ralph Fiennes. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Number #1 Pick in all caps….

    JEAN RENO (“Nikita” / “LΓ©on: The Professional” / “Ronin”)
    Kurt Russell (“Used Cars” / “Breakdown” / “Poseidon” / “Death Proof”)
    Burt Reynolds (“Deliverance” / “Smokey and the Bandit” / “Striptease”)
    Claude Rains (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” / “Casablanca” / “Notorious”)
    Cliff Robertson (“Charly” / “Obsession” / “Spider-Man”)
    Robert Ryan (“The Naked Spur” / “The Professionals” / “The Wild Bunch”)
    Jason Robards (“Once Upon a Time in the West” / “Comes a Horseman”)
    Ving Rhames (“Mission: Impossible” series / “Piranha 3D” / “Striptease”)

    THELMA RITTER (“All About Eve” / “Rear Window” / “The Misfits”)
    Jane Russell (“The Outlaw” / “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”)
    Denise Richards (“Starship Troopers” / “Wild Things” / “The World Is Not Enough”)
    Debbie Reynolds (“Singin’ in the Rain” / “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”)
    Diana Rigg (“The Avengers” TV series, in the role of Emma Peel)

    Honorable mention goes to Steve Railsback (“The Stunt Man”), Paul Reiser (“Aliens”), Tony Randall (“Let’s Make Love”), and Sam Raimi (“Drag Me to Hell’).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, I admire Denise Richards. But I think we both have to confess that it has little to do with any acting ability she may possess. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comprehensive list, David. I’m not sure about Cliff Robertson, as I always found myself fixating on his clumsy toupees, so hardly noticed if he was acting. πŸ™‚ The same applied to Burt Reynolds…
      Best wishes, Pete.


  5. Love that you showcased Gena Rowlands. Fantastic actor and gorgeous woman. She was wonderful in Gloria and A Woman Under the Influence. She has elevated everything she’s been in.
    I really like Kelly Reilly. I didn’t know anything about her until I saw her in Flight and that performance stood out to me. Very natural. I thought she was the best thing about the very lack luster True Detective Season 2. I had no idea that she was British until not too long ago.
    I will also add Eric Roberts. He has blown his career with…well…blow. He’s been in some horrible movies and has chewed scenery painfully but at one time he was a very good actor. He was terrific in Star 80 and Runaway Train back in the day. Too bad he blew it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eric Roberts always unsettled me, Pam. As I said in a reply below, I found his unusual looks rather feminine. Not an issue, except that he played such macho roles. Kelly Reilly is another matter. A gorgeous British redhead, and I am amazed that you didn’t know she was from the UK. She is well known here for her work as a teenager in TV roles, but check out her film pedigree too.
      ‘Last Orders’ (2001), ‘The Libertine’ (2004), a wonderful film. ‘Mrs Henderson Presents’ (2005), ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (2005), and ‘Eden Lake’ (2008). I expect a lot more from her, with her distinctive looks, and confident style. Many thanks for reading and commenting.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  6. Christina Ricci, started out in the whimsical Mermaids, with Cher & Winona Ryder, on to play Wednesday in the Adams Family, and then did a lot of Indy movies. Great little actress. Anyone mentioned Keanu Reeves, I suppose The Matrix trilogy is his most famous thing, but many good movies behind him, John Wickes is one of my favourite (gotta love a man who takes revenge on his dogs murderers!) but also good in The Devils Advocate with Al Pacino and Constantine. He is a bit type cast now but it’s a type I like 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I think “The Apostle”, starring Robert Duvall, is my favorite Miranda Richardson movie. And Claude Rains is another favorite “R” actor.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rampling was terrific in “The Verdict”, a great performance…once again I am diving into the deep end of the cult cinema pool to offer up the prolific (and usually extremely nude) European Actress Lina Romay – her husband, Director Jess Franco was the most prolific Director in cinema history (200+ films overall), and he directed her in cult gems like “Countess Perverse”, “The Night Has A Thousand Desires” and of course “Lorna The Exorcist”. Here is a post that shows you some of her greatest roles if you want to know more (and you do) –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good call with Caesar. He was great as The Joker, on the Batman TV series.
      I always thought Eric Roberts looked a bit weird. His face is distinctive, but strangely female too. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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