Tag Archives: character actors

Actor Spotlight for Feb. 23th-March 2nd: Pell James

pell james

After going to a showing of Fanboys, I was shocked when I saw Pell James and Jamie King playing hookers that the geeks try to get with in the Vegas part of their adventures. This made me wonder, where did Pell James go? For a while, I thought she was going to be the new Indie Darling  and it seemed her career has just stalled. I remember seeing her in James Marsh’s The King with Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt. I was just blown away and how she held her own against such strong and established actors. James has a certain gentle grace that is almost hypnotic. After that, Jim Jarmusch casted her  in Broken Flowers as a spritely girl named Sun Green, who entrances Bill Murray for a few moments, like so many other women in the film.

I guess her chance to really propel her career was with the film, Undiscovered, starring another “why the hell isn’t he more famous” Steven Strait, as two people struggling to make it in the L.A music industry. While the plot is tired, these two promising actors couldn’t make the film work. Maybe it’s because Ashlee Simpson had a supporting role.

The last notable project she was in was Fincher’s Zodiac as one of films first victims. In her brief screen time, her death instills a fear in the audience that would continue to grow as the film progresses. Pell James is an extremely talented actress who deserves better film roles. 


Actor Spotlight for Feb. 9th-15th: Melora Walters


Ah, Melora Walters, how I love you. A career as varied as yours has been is certainly something to admire. Walters have carved out a niche in Hollywood as a character actor, using playing weak, crazy or unhinged women. No one can play desperation quite like Melora Walters. 

In the early 90s, Walters struggled like any actress to find a part in any movie. Usually, that entailed background roles in cheaply made movies. She plays the “Pet Shop Owner” in Beethoven (1992) and Secretary # 2 in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Argueably, her biggest break in the early 90s (pre P.T Anderson) was her role of Trina, the saucy swimmer love interest of Chris Elliot in the 1994 film, Cabin Boy. They all have to start somewhere.

In 1996, Walters started what would be a promising and continuing professional relationship with legendary director, P.T Anderson. She started as a small role in his first feature film, Hard Eight, later retitled Sydney playing Jimmy’s (played by Samuel L. Jackson) girlfriend. In Anderson’s 1997 film, Boogie Nights, she played a porn star named  Jessica St. Vincent. While not a major character in that particular ensemble, Walters held her own against powerful actors like William H. Macy, Burt Renoylds and Julianne Moore. Her most notable role in a P.T film would be that of Claudia Gator in the 2001 film, Magnolia. 

Walters in Magnolia

Claudia Wilson is one of the most damaged characters ever to grace the silver screen. That’s a bold statement but I’m prepared to make it. It is a crime that she was not nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of a lost and lonely addict, still suffering after the years of sexual abuse she went through as a child. Her only hope is a cop named Jim (played by the amazing John C. Reilly), who falls for her when he receives a complaint from her neighbor about her loud noise. I believe their interactions are the highlights of the film, especially their date. 

After her stunning turn in Magnolia, Walters went on to have small, but important roles in films like Cold Mountain (2003) and The Butterfly Effect (2004). Recently, she has turned her attention to television. While Walters is continuing  playing the unhinged, but lovable Wanda Henrickson on HBO’s mormon drama, “Big Love” , she jumped networks for a brief guest stint on “Desperate Housewives”, playing Sylvia Greene. Her character travels to Wisteria Lane during a tornado to confront the married Adam (played by my love, Nathan Fillion), whom she once had an affair with. Even though she is sucked up into the tornado, Walters is the catalyst of major changes in both the characters of Adam as well as his wife, Katherine (Dana Delaney). 

However, one of my favorite Walters role would be that of Kate in the 2002 movie, Wise Girls. Yes, this was marketed as a Mariah Carey movie and while she is in it, Mira Sorvino is the main character, Meg. Carey, who played Raychel,  actually is fine in the movie because she doesn’t really have to emote real emotion, just be real sassy and bitchy. Anyways, Walters, Sorvino and Carey play waitresses at an Italian restaurant, which of course, is a front for the mob. While Raychel willingly participates, carrying out drug filled tin foil swan leftovers, Meg and Kate are more hesitant. When Meg saves the life of a wounded mobster, thanks to her nurse’s training, she gets in deeper than she ever thought possible, even witnessing a murder.

Walters is exceptional in this movie, which I think was just directly released to television. She plays Kate, a seemingly complacent, insecure former aspiring actress turned waitress, but SURPRISE, she is really an undercover cop and is getting evidence for a big trail against the mobsters. When Meg witnesses the murder, Kate sees her opportunity to get her to testify and reveals her true identity, really pissing Meg off. Walters is brillant in this role, finally playing some one calculating on the inside as well as tough on the outside. She is able to be relatable, but tough and genuinely compassionate towards the damaged Sorvino character. All in all, Wisegirls is a super, fun movie and Walters really gives it her all.

So here’s a collection of clips from Magnolia, but it’s missing the main scene in the restaurant with Claudia and Jim.

Actor Spotlight for Feb. 2nd-8th: Elias Koteas

Elias Koteas

Elias Koteas has the honor of being the first actor chosen to be highlighted in my now to be weekly “Actor Spotlight”. Elias Koteas is a sweet little character actor who bares a strikingly similarity to Christopher Merloni. He brings a certain air of gravitas to any role he takes.

Early in his career, Koteas had to make the most of the parts he was given. From the Skinhead (no, he wasn’t a neo-Nazi) character in Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) to Casey Jones in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Saga (1990s), he manages to stand out among the silliness, breathing life into his kooky characters.

Elias Koteas in Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)


After the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie (and my favorite of the

franchise), Koteas began to appear in small parts in more serious films. 

Elias Koteas in Crash (1996)

In 1996, he appeared in David Cronenberg’s Crash, Gattaca (1997), Fallen (1998!) and a substantial role in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998), tackling a variety of different roles. In Crash, he plays a man, who along with James Spader, gets his jollies by watching and being apart of car crashes. Creepy, yes, but a turning point in Koteas’ career.

Since the late 1990s, Koteas is steadily working, even scoring a pivotal guest appearance on “House M.D”, where he plays a character named Moriarty who shoots Dr. House. His path to character actor Hall of Fame has been sealed, especially with his recent bit roles in action movies like Collateral Damage (2002) and Shooter (2007) as well as a police officer in David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007). Koteas usually has several stand out scenes that tend to steal the movie away from the stars of the movie, ahem, Mark Wahlberg. 

One of my favorite Koteas’ role is in the 2006 film, Skinwalkers, where he plays the patriarch to a family of werewolves. Laugh if you must, but it’s a fun, little horror flick that also stars Jason Behr and the too hot for her own good, Rhona Mitra. Koteas, the head of a good werewolf clan, must save Mitra and her young half boy/half werewolf son from the bad werewolf clan, lead by Behr, who are trying to kill them to stop them from fulfilling a prophecy that would turn all werewolves into humans.

Koteas is a sympathetic hero, trying to keep his fellow skinwalkers alive while they are being attacked by the warring werewolf clan. Koteas’ yearning to be like the humans he loves is heartbreaking as he sacrifices everything to see that the werewolf gene, that he sees as a curse, is lifted. Koteas gift as an actor is that he can bring respectability to any role he plays. This coming 2009, he will be playing a priest in The Haunting in Connecticut as well as a roles in James Gray’s Two Lovers and Martin Scorese’s Shutter Island.


Koteas is the one bound to the wall by leather straps. Half werewolf mode!!!
Koteas is the one bound to the wall by leather straps. Half werewolf mode!!!


Now, for your enjoyment, Koteas as Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: