An A-Z of Actors: W

Close to the end now, and lots of choices with ‘W’. I will be featuring one very famous actor in this letter, as well as three others perhaps not so famous, to leave room for your selections and favourites.

Starting today with English ‘tough-guy’ actor, Ray Winstone. A former youth boxer, and a genuine East End boy, he started out at theatre school in London, before being catapulted to fame with his chilling role as Carlin, in the BBC production of the Borstal (youth prison) drama, ‘Scum’, a play so powerful it was not shown on television at the time. It was later filmed in 1979, and given a cinema release, with Ray playing the same part. That same year, he appeared in ‘Quadrophenia’, as well as continuing to work in television series. Despite taking on so many hard man roles, he also tackled difficult areas, such as domestic abuse in ‘Nil By Mouth’ (1997), and incest, in the harrowing ‘The War Zone’ (1999). He has rarely stopped working, with so many supporting or starring film roles, including ‘Sexy Beast’ (2000), ‘Ripley’s Game’ (2002), ‘Cold Mountain’ (2003), and ‘King Arthur’ (2004). Since then, he has appeared in more than forty other films, including Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ (2006).

English actress Billie Whitelaw started work as a child actress in the 1940s, and worked in every area of acting, until 2007. Early stage work featured many notable collaborations with Samuel Beckett, and working as part of The National Theatre company. Her film career began in 1953, and she was in many British films of the period, with a role in the famous ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ (1958). During the 1960s, she appeared in twelve films, including ‘Payroll’ (1961), ‘No Love For Johnnie’ that same year, and ‘Charlie Bubbles’ (1967), starring opposite Albert Finney. In 1972, she appeared in Hitchcock’s last film, ‘Frenzy’, and four years later as the evil housekeeper in ‘The Omen’ (1976). Then in 1990, she played the mother of the notorious twin gangsters, in ‘The Krays’. Her final role was in Simon Pegg’s 2007 comedy, ‘Hot Fuzz’. She died seven years later, in 2014.

American character actor M. Emmett Walsh has a distinctive look, and has made a few unforgettable appearances in some excellent films, as well as on television. You might think you don’t know the name, but look him up, and you will certainly know the face. You will know the films too, including some of the most highly acclaimed in modern cinema. ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969), ‘Little Big Man’ (1970), ‘Serpico’ (1973), and ‘The Jerk’ (1979). He went on to appear in ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), ‘Silkwood’ (1983), ‘Blood Simple’, the 1984 film by the Coen Brothers, and ‘Raising Arizona’ (1987). Since then, he has been in over sixty five other films, including a standout role in ‘Calvary’ (2014). He is still working, at the age of 83.

No apologies for choosing someone famous as my last offering in ‘W’, as he is one of my all time favourite actors, as well as being a much lauded director. For me, the marvellous Orson Welles can do no wrong. I have never not liked him in a single role he has played, and some of his films I have watched over and over again, including ‘The Third Man’ (1949), ‘(Touch Of Evil’ (1958), and ‘Chimes At Midnight’ (1965). His career was long, and his roles too many to list, but they of course include the legendary ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941), ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ (1942), ‘Jane Eyre’ (1943), ‘The Stranger’ (1946), and ‘Macbeth’ (1948). In 1959, he played the crusading lawyer in ‘Compulsion’, and in 1970, the French King Louis, in the epic ‘Waterloo’. He continued to work until his death in 1985, leaving behind what is arguably one of the greatest legacies in all of cinema history.

47 thoughts on “An A-Z of Actors: W

    1. Thanks, Thom. I noticed her when I was very young, and followed her career for a long time.
      I always ‘believed’ in her characters, and never once felt she was ‘acting’.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Ray Winstone. Was it Gal or Gail in Sexy Beast? Great actor. Love him in The Proposition and everything I’ve seen him in–even if I didn’t particularly care for the film he was playing in.
    I’m going to go obscure–Lindsay Wagoner of The Bionic Woman TV series. A wonderful actor who was never really given the chance at a plum role that would have broke her out of relative obscurity though she did win some acting awards for her work in The Bionic Woman. Then there’s Eli Wallach. Fantastic actor. Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pam. It was Gal, used as short for Gary, especially in London.
      (Also Tel for Terry, and others)
      Thanks for your choices of Wagner and Wallach.
      I agree that Lindsay would have benefited from ‘meatier roles’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post 🙂 So glad to see M. Emmet Walsh on here and yes, Orson Welles was every bit masterful as an actor as he was a director. It is a shame that Hollywood treated Welles so terribly after Citizen Kane. I mean look what RKO did to The Magnificent Ambersons? Make no mistake that is a great film, but the RKO butchered an originally 132 minute film to 88 minutes leaving Welles upset at the final result. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice job with the W. There are many Welles films I like very much and can watch over and over. Looks like by Hook or By Book has named many I was thinking of.
    Hmmmm.
    No one said Christopher Walken or Forest Whitaker.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll limit myself to three films in my shout-out:
    Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane” / “The Lady from Shanghai” / “Touch of Evil”)
    Eli Wallach (“The Magnificent Seven” / “The Misfits” / “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”)
    David Warner (“The Omen” / “Time After Time” / “Titanic”)
    Christopher Walken (“True Romance” / “Sleepy Hollow” / “Catch Me If You Can”)
    J..T. Walsh (“The Grifters” / “Breakdown” / “The Last Seduction”)
    Bruce Willis (“Billy Bathgate” / “The Fifth Element” / “Sin City” films)
    Rachel Weisz (“The Mummy” films / “Enemy at the Gates” / “The Fountain”)

    I’ll limit myself to four films for my top choices. Tie in both the male and female category!

    John Wayne (“The Searchers” / “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” / “The Sons of Katie Elder” / “The Shootist” [I first saw “The Sons of Katie Elder,” starring “Big John Wayne,” in Albuquerque, NM.]

    Gene Wilder (“Bonnie and Clyde” / “Blazing Saddles” / “Young Frankenstein” / “Silver Streak”)

    Sigourney Weaver (“Alien” series / “Galaxy Quest” / “Avatar” / “Paul”)

    Naomi Watts (“Dangerous Beauty” / “Mulholland Drive” / “King Kong” / “The Impossible”)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Pete, they are finally going to release Orson’s long-unfinished last film “The Other Side Of The Wind” because Director Peter Bogdanovich oversaw it and Netflix paid…can’t wait to see it

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is before coffee so please forgive me….Rachel Ward, Wahlberg boys, Leslie Ann Warren…..and the absolutely beautiful Natalie wood….I shall leave the rest to my peers…LOL chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I first saw Ray Winstone in the wonderful television series Robin Hood (that featured the equally wonderful music of Clannad in it) and I really though he was such a great actor. It was only years later, when I grew older, that I saw him again this time leaving his mark in films. I really had to think hard where I knew him from until it just clicked. Could not agree more: such an amazing actor.
    My favorite actor though: Denzel Washington. I have been a fan of him for an incredibly long time and just think he is awesome. He has made so many terrific films, and played such diverse roles that it’s hard to pick a favorite (though his Oscar winning performance in training day certainly is one of my favorites 😊😊).

    Liked by 1 person

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