Acting is a fine and noble profession. To tread the boards or to grace the silver screen, telling stories of conflict and human emotion. It requires a delicate hand, a subtle touch, a masterful balance.
And sometimes you just say ‘fuck it’ and dial it up to 11.
Chewing the scenery is a phrase that is applied to a performance where an actor is, er, very enthusiastic in their portrayal. They got a bit over the top, a bit out of control. It’s often awful, but it’s almost always a hell of a lot of fun regardless.
Here are a handful of my favourite over-the-top scenery nommers.
Jeremy Irons – Dungeons & Dragons
Off to a strong start! Jeremy Irons doesn’t so much chew the scenery as tackle it and shake it like a terrier killing a rat, unhinging his jaw ans swallowing large pieces of it whole. In this so-bad-it’s-brilliant fantasy flick, he may as well have a massive glowing neon sign around his neck saying ‘I AM TEH EVIL WIZARD’. Power hungry and more than a little bonkers, his character livens up the movie every time he’s on screen.
Al Pacino – The Devil’s Advocate
Al Pacino is the devil. Er, in this film, I should add. I’m sure he’s lovely. In this film he spends his time slithering around like the proverbial serpent until, in a wonderful show of hammery, he makes his explosive speech about God’s sadism and his own love for mankind. It’s glorious.
Alan Rickman – Prince of Thieves
This one is a doozy. It’s the king of death scenes, as Alan Rickman goes from triumph to pain to confusion to pain again to possibly constipated to dead. It’s the yardstick by which all movie deaths are measured. It’s a performance to treasure for all of time.
Nicholas Cage – 50% of his movies
Nicholas Cage is a man of two halves. He’s capable of delivering performances so downplayed that they’re in danger of being bland. They’re not bad, they’re just not very special. And then there’s the rest of his career – bug-eyed full-throated banshee wailing and wild gesticulating. There’s nothing quite like Nic Cage at the top of his game.