I nominate Candice Bergen for appearing on film with a body wave (in "Starting Over")!
Charlize Theron in Monster. Not just for the physical transformation, but because she was playing a serial killer.
Patricia Neal in Hud??
WTF is a "body wave"?
Joey Lawrence, appearing in blackface on Gimme A Break.
Marlon brando in last tango. Lately i would say helen hunt in the sessions.
Melanie Griffith for "Shining Through." She must have known no one would ever buy her as a Hasidic Jewess; but dammit if she wasn't going to do it anyway.
Brando was batshit crazy, so bravery never entered into it. If consequences are meaningless to you, its not brave.
Monster definitely could have ended Theron's career. Could have gone wrong in so many ways. She had to have serious guts and confidence to think she could pull that off.
Monica Bellucci in Irreversible.
Dirk Borgarde and Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter.
I may be alone in this, but when I actually saw The Reader after all the hype and Oscar crap, I gave Winslet a lot of credit for playing that character. Yeah, she won for it, but again a project that could have backfired.
Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman, playing a convicted pedophile who has to adjust to life outside prison while struggling with his compulsions.
Bergen was pretty brave in Starting Over...she wasn't particularly experienced in comedy.....yet she just went out and sang that song like she was Carol Burnett or something. Hysterical.
[quote]I may be alone in this, but when I actually saw The Reader after all the hype and Oscar crap, I gave Winslet a lot of credit for playing that character. Yeah, she won for it, but again a project that could have backfired.
Benicio del Toro in [italic]the Usual Suspects[/italic] - He altered his appearance and his speech to create a pretty different sort of criminal. I think he told the director he'd be a German-Chinese Puerto Rican. Even the other actors couldn't understand him at first. But after about two minutes you get the hang of what he's doing and accept an eccentric, mixed-race hijacker who mumbles constantly.
A German-Chinese Puerto Rican? I thought he was supposed to be retarded.
Brave in terms of risking physical health: Christian Bale in Machinist.
Robert Deniro did that film where he gets jerked of by a prostitute while in bed with that homely french actor.
Tony Curtis in The Boston Strangler.
Happiness has a lot of terrific performances from a great cast handling difficult material. Even Lara Flynn Boyle is good in it.
I read that lots of young actors auditioned for the part of the obscene phone caller played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but that hardly anyone wanted Dylan Baker's role as the paedophile psychiatrist. I thought it was a brave performance as Baker was 1. in danger of being typecast as he wasn't really well known in film, and 2. very understated, with no 'yes, I know I'm a monster' theatricality.
The bravest performance in motion picture history was Gloria Swanson's in SUNSET BOULEVARD.
She played a version of herself, with her own photos and film clips appearing in the film, fearlessly peeling off the layers of mystique and glamor and grace that served her success in the past. She investigated her own legacy - scenes from her own enormous flop, QUEEN KELLY, directed by Erich von Stroheim, who stood there as Max as it played - and presented the madness, ennui, delusion and egomania her kind of career could yield. And she dared to turn the mirror to Hollywood's ugliness, and allow the audience and her peers to see the monstrousness of the system in her own face. That last scene - devastatingly self-aware and knowing. She was baring herself to the world.
She also infused the performance with wit and satirical detachment. But no one from her era and vantage - as one of the seminal figures in the industry - ever dared what she did. Remember that actresses as diverse as Pola Negri, Mae West and Mary Pickford all turned it down.
Yeah - this is a "Mary" post. Swanson's performance is worth it.
Jodie Foster in Nell
The one and only Denzel Washington in and as Malcolm X. One of the greatest, bravest, most iconic performances ever.
Monica Bellucci in Irreversible.
Javier Bardem in Perdita Durango (and pretty much any/most other movies he is in, including the full on gay sex scene in Secundo Piel)- this guy is an acting madman.
Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder and Chaplin.
Paul Dano and Daniel Day Lewis in that "I Drink Your Milkshake" scene in There Will Be Blood.
Tom Hardy in Bronson.
Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn.
Elizabeth Berkley in SHOWGIRLS. Seriously. Much in the way kamikaze pilots were brave.
Sissy Spacek in the 'Grass Harp'. A surprisingly touching performance.
Brave is rescuing a baby from a burning building.
Taking a part in a movie in which you are making tons of money for play acting is a meaningless choice in the scheme of things.
People used to comment how actors were brave for taking gay roles. Brave was/is living an open gay life in a hostile world.
I disagree with you R29. Brave is also playing a harrowing role.
Isabelle Adjani's role in 'Camille Claudel' for example was a truly harrowing role.
Joanne Woodward's role in 'Rachel, Rachel' was also harrowing. Playing poignant roles is a brave task. It demands to have stamina, an emotional power.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the sublime work done by Rosie O'Donnell in "Riding the Bus with My Sister".
I agree that "bravery" in performance is very relative, but in terms of having no vanity, Jennifer Jason Leigh has done plenty of weird/unpleasant shit that other actresses would be turned off by...
"Last Exit to Brooklyn" - stripping off in a bar and drunkenly inviting every man in the neighborhood to gang-rape her
"Georgia" - performing 8-minute Van Morrison song live onstage, in drunken/junkie character mode, despite the fact that she really can't sing for shit
"Short Cuts" - giving phone sex while feeding baby and changing diapers (my favorite part: when she asks the customer if he can hear "how wet my pussy is", then holds the phone up to her cheek as she grabs it and makes sloppy J/O noises)
Also starving herself to play anorexic in "The Best Little Girl in the World", being a needy psycho stalker in "Single White Female", other junkies and alcoholics in "Rush", "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle", "Dolores Claiborne", other gang-rape scenes in "Flesh and Blood", "Heart of Midnight" etc. She clearly enjoys being weird and gross onscreen.
Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet, Shelley Duvall in 3 Women, Eric Bana in Chopper, Debra Winger in A Dangerous Woman...
And what about Chloe Sevigny in The Brown Bunny? Brave or just stupid?
Jill Clayburgh in "Gable and Lombard".
After a reported nationwide search, she was chosen to play Carole Lombard opposite James Brolin's Clark Gable.
Jill in no way resembled Lombard . . . it was brave of her to attempt the role.
Someone saving someone else's life despite the risk of serious injury is brave. Someone taking on a challenging role with a large financial reward in not brave.
Hugh Grant in "Maurice"
It came out when AIDS = Death = Gay Sex.
And, he played the reckless twink.
Lucille Ball in "Mame" owns this thread
In complete agreement with the posters who mention Dylan Baker and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Also the actors in Dreams of an Insomniac (if I have title right? Aronofsky film), especially Jennifer Connelly. I thought that near-the-end scene, with her, some actor, and a double-dildo - was harrowing.
Roz Russell in Gypsy. Remember she sang to her own vocals. She didn't think she'd require dubbing.
Lena Dunham in Girls. I couldn't imagine appearing naked on screen if I looked like that. That sounds snarky, but it's not meant to be. I do think it's brave.
Surely Kathy Bates was braver in that respect?
[quote]Isabelle Adjani's role in 'Camille Claudel' for example was a truly harrowing role.
'Camille Claudel' is kindergarten compared to her performance in POSSESSION.
Tilda Swinton in THE WAR ZONE.
Oh Christ, I forgot about that one. Everyone in THE WAR ZONE deserves a purple heart. Dark, disturbing shit.
Sure, it's daring to show your nether regions. But I think R23 has the right idea for what constitutes truly brave acting.
Kathy Bates in About Schmidt
Romy Schneider in 'Mädchen in Uniform'
Romy wanted to escape from the Sissi image that dangerously cast its shadow over her and she dared to play a very provocative role for that time. Bravo Romy.
Have any so called "Mainstream" actors ever had sex on film in the name of art?
Harvey Keitel in "The Piano", for showing the world his undersized cock on film.
Definitely it's anyone who has the guts to play a homosexual.
A really brave one was Kyle Bornheimer having explicit gay sex in that short film "Spokane". Very shocking for an up and coming actor.
R47, Chloe Sevigny was a well-known Oscar nominee by the time she gave Vincent Gallo an unsimulated blowjob in The Brown Bunny.
R21 Bale did it first and he lost over 60 lb. MM has lost less. Bale looked like he was going to die in the Machinist. Bale also lost a ton of weight for Rescue Dawn and it was filmed in reverse so he could put on weight as filming progressed. He also ate worms and bugs for real.
I think DeNiro for Raging Bull could be considered here as well. He gained a ton of weight for it.
How about Tom Hanks for Philadelphia? He was already a star and didn't need to take on such a controversial role.
Many consider Christian Bale's extreme behavior preparing for films like The Machinist or Rescue Dawn as evidence of a certain courage and commitment beyond the call of duty, but to me he just comes across as an attention-seeker who's desperate to prove his seriousness by pulling these blatantly masochistic stunts. Why is his approach considered nobler than, say, Nicolas Cage eating a cockroach for a cheesy straight-to-video comedy like Vampire's Kiss? Same with Jared Leto's starvation buzz on this new HIV-tranny film. I'm not sure their extreme behaviors have really enhanced any of their films or made their performances any more authentic.
Is Kyle Bornheimer actually gay or was it a case of a straight guy showing how cool he is with gay stuff?
Bravery in acting is a relative term.
Still waitg to hear what a "body wave" is.
R29 not true she wanted to but they ventually dub her with Lisa Kirk
Patty Duke in valley of the dolls own this thread
R57 if this thing they do with curlers to add body to the hair
that should be r39 not r29
Ron Eldard (Glen Waddell) and Jena Malone (Bone Boatright) in Bastard Out of Carolina. Several of their scenes together are just plain horrid to watch. Ron Eldard took an unbelievable risk when he signed on for this film - Glen Waddell was pure pond scum. A complete sicko!
r47 Why, certainly not!
[quote]Lena Dunham in Girls. I couldn't imagine appearing naked on screen if I looked like that. That sounds snarky, but it's not meant to be. I do think it's brave.
I don't know--there's something about Lena Dunham that strikes me as very calculating; as if being called "brave" and "edgy" by the critics is the exact reason she appears naked on screen.
An awful lot of these 'Brave' performances are calculated attempts to get and Oscar. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia etc
R65 what do you think they're all doing? They're not trying to cure cancer or anything, they're actors. Maybe "brave" is the wrong word. They are all doing it to get noticed and win an Oscar. Maybe the word should be risky or daring or extreme.
R36, Grant's character was neither reckless nor a twink. If anyone, Maurice behaved recklessly. Or are you perhaps thinking of Rupert Grave's character Scudder?
Jake Gyllenhaal's character in Brokeback Mountain. He took a huge risk in "that scene." Ang Lee said he was "very brave."
Iman in Michael Jackson's Remember the Time video - she had to kiss Michael and pretend to be attracted to him
Would you want to kiss that ugly mug? This was around the time that he started looking like a tranny
Nicole Kidman for 'The Portrait of a Lady'.
She spent two weeks in bed after filming that -diagnosed as suffering from "emotional stress".