“Without wonder and insight acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.” Bette Davis
Of all the tabloid bad boys and Hollywood hunks paraded across the silver screen these days, few ever seem worthy of the title thespian. Sure, there are celebrity cuties galore, but it takes a bit more than a capped smile and a set of firm abs to make me swoon. Honestly, while hot guys seem a dime a dozen these days, true actors seem fewer and far between. When I admire an actor it is his talent that I find truly intriguing, and when it comes to admiration and intrigue, there’s only one dark-eyed Adonis who comes to my mind. Any guesses as to my top leading man, who happens to possess said talent in spades?
Here’s a hint:
And one more for good measure:
Okay, so anyone can see that Jeremy Northam is one gorgeous fella. But look closely (go on, take a moment, or five) and you’ll see we’re not just talking a heart throb de jour here, but a classically and quintessentially beautiful specimen of masculinity. Some may chalk his trans-generational and cultural knee weakening ability up to a certain je ne se quoi, but I believe what we have here is a perfect example of the Goldilocks effect, as in the man is all around “just right.” In both body and character Mr. Northam contains a wealth of extremes tempered with respective opposites, resulting in the happiest of mediums. He’s tall, dark, and dashing, but combine all that with an infamous lopsided grin and a distressed pair of jeans and you’ve got yourself a good deal of boy-next-door charm. He’s proved himself to be pensive, insightful, shy, humble, confident, exuberant, jovial, and utterly hilarious. He’s sophisticated, elegant, refined, but completely down to earth. One can just as easily envision him extemporaneously spouting sonnets as kicking back with a pint and a bag of crisps.
Furthermore, there’s no denying that the boy’s got skills. As “one of Britain’s finest actors”, upstanding men and women alike go giddy at the size of Jer’s chops. (And no, I don’t mean these chops.)
I’ll spare you a detailed summary of Jeremy’s talents, as others have analyzed Mr. Northam’s career with far more depth and eloquence than I possibly could. But for the sake of bolstering my choice, I will give a few quick nods to his theatre training and natural talent, as they are clearly evident in every role he tackles. There is no “good enough” for Jeremy, he gives himself entirely every time. He’s proved himself brilliantly gifted on stage and screen, playing everything from felon to saint. But, his list of talents is in no way exhausted with acting, as he has also proved himself a talented musician and singer, as well as an exceptional audiobook reader. For there is always something to be said for that voice of his. You know, the one so deliciously decadent it gives meaning to the term plummy? Like cool silk strung along rich velvet …ahem, anyway… His natural cadence seems easily adaptable to all literary forms, as he can deftly tweak the phrasing and tone of even the most static characters, giving each one a resounding voice of their own.
It’s rare to find an avid Jeremy Northam fan who hasn’t pondered the fact that this brilliant actor has continually been neglected his due. I am no exception in this case, and have set myself at the task of unpacking this seemingly unfair pass over of our dear Jer (you know, “That guy from The Tudors.” ). I think my personal discovery of this phenomenal actor may prove insightful in this case.
Though I can’t claim to have been officially “Jeremized” until only last year, the first time I truly sat up and took notice of Jeremy Northam was actually in 1999. My brother used to work at a video store and would often bring home screeners of films not yet released for rental. One afternoon I found myself popping in a odd looking film with an even odder title, Happy, Texas. At 16 I could hardly call myself an amateur film critic, but even then I fancied myself a girl who knew the good stuff when she saw it. And whoever that guy was playing an escaped con-man turned beauty pageant director certainly had the goods. Unfortunately, this is where I have to admit that I too am guilty of the “that guy ” syndrome, as this was not the first film I had actually seen Jeremy in. Yet, while I continued to esteem his films for over a decade, I never really noticed how prevalent he was in my list of thoroughly enjoyed flicks. It wasn’t until I subscribed to Netflix that I realized, as I poured over my list of recommended movies, that this guy was in everything. “Really, that was him in The Net? Oh, and Gosford Park? Of course!”
After about my tenth time of watching a delightfully spirited Mr. Knightly propose to his dear Emma, I couldn’t help but ask aloud, “Why isn’t this man a bigger star?” Clearly a lack of looks, personality, and talent weren’t keeping our boy from the spot light. So, the only satisfactory conclusion that I could come to is that the guy is altogether just too good. The actor has said himself that, ” I think it’s a good idea to be able to disappear into the story, so that the first thing the audience sees isn’t you, but the part”, and our Jeremy has been successfully disappearing into parts (and our hearts) for over twenty years. I think it’s very safe to venture that Jeremy Northam will never be a big star simply because he doesn’t want to be, as celebrity seems often a bane rather than boon to good acting. His relative anonymity lends him a certain mystique, as well, for who isn’t hopelessly enticed by a mystery man, particularly one with impossibly dreamy brown eyes? And while he did “put his name out there a bit”, he will continue to gracefully sidestep the whole 15 minutes of fame travesty. In his own words:
“I’d like to think that I’ll be one of those actors who will be working into my sixties and seventies, someone who doesn’t just get a good five or ten years. I’d like to have a career that spans decades.”
Well, two decades down, hot stuff; at least two more to go. Take care of yourself and don’t disappoint us now; you’ve got a plethora of fans to please, even if they don’t realize it, yet. While for many you may still be “that guy” in everything, everything is a long row to hoe.
Jeremy Northam is about to be seen on US tv screens every week in Miami Medical, as Dr Matt Proctor, to air on CBS from April 2, 2010. The promos can be seen at http://www.cbs.com/primetime/miami_medical/
To meet other fans, get the latest news and chat about Jeremy’s work (a warm welcome is assured), please visit: http://www.jeremynorthaminfo.com