Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stephen Dillane Appreciation

By Sati. Sunday, November 30, 2014
Stephen Dillane
November 30, 1956 (London, England, UK)

I have to phrase this perfectly: I'm just not convinced that the attention we give to creating what we think of as a character isn't actually quite often the means by which an actor overcomes his own terror of standing there onstage and creating a mask to hide behind.

Ah, happy day on the blog again. In fact between Mark Ruffalo, Mads Mikkelsen and Stephen all having birthday in the same month November is one happy month.

The way these posts usually go is fangirl on acid kind of approach but today you're gonna witness something semi-professional. For two reasons - Stephen Dillane is quite reclusive so he doesn't do much interviews one can fangirl over and also - his is such a fantastic actor who was excellent in so many roles and yet whenever I write about how much I love him and someone else responds 'me too' I swear it's like we are two unicorns that run into each other.

In space.
In another galaxy.
Where everything is a maze.

The praise is too rare.

The Hours
Stephen Dillane is one of the best and unfortunately most under appreciated actors out there nowadays. As great as everyone in The Hours ensemble is - which I believe to common movie fan may be his most well known performance - I think Dillane's work is the best one there. Yes, Kidman's Oscar win was quite deserved and Moore is sensational while Streep really should have been at least nominated but it's Dillane work that is stunning in a pure sense of the word. His love for his wife, his desperation to keep her and him finally releasing her in the train station scene is just incredible and it stands as one of the finest acting moments I've seen. Curiously Dillane was initially going to play Ed Harris's role, but now I just cannot imagine him playing anyone else but Leonard.

John Adams
But it's not the only great performance from him - he won BAFTA for his touching portrayal of a father whose son has been shot in The Shooting of Thomas Heimdall and he was Emmy nominated for his fantastic, charismatic and lovely performance as Thomas Jefferson in HBO's John Adams. In fact if you didn't think it is possible to make this particular founder father hot...I urge you to watch it. The entire ensemble is just fantastic but yet again Dillane is never overshadowed by anyone who is sharing scenes with him.

The Greatest Game Ever Played
Dillane can play any role but it's his romantic performances that are especially subtle and gorgeous - Firelight is truly something to witness. One of his best performances is also a beautiful role in Fugitive Pieces where he plays a tortured writer and the survivor of the Holocaust. Then there is Deja vu - a not so great film elevated by his efforts. In fact he is so good in his performances sometimes a single scene is such a standout it absolutely made the movie worth watching - like his big moment in The Greatest Game Ever Played.

44 Inch Chest
In spite of having disposition similar to the character he plays in Game of Thrones, Dillane is actually quite excellent in comedies too - Ordinary Decent Criminal, The Parole Officer - and especially - 44 Inch Chest, all lighter movies which allowed him to show a completely different talents with big success. Scene stealing all around, yet again.

The Tunnel
Stephen also appeared in supporting roles in whole variety of movies - he is one of those actors who may be in the film for 20 minutes but he is always memorable - his performance was one of the few good things about Zero Dark Thirty, he was very charismatic and funny in Spy Game where he shared scenes with Robert Redford, his work was one of the only watchable things in Savage Grace and then we have him showing up in King Arthur as Merlin.

Blackwater battle, season 2
Recently Dillane won an international Emmy award for his fantastic work in The Tunnel, a story which is also basis for American The Bridge. There he played a good cop, slightly worse husband, and a mentor and friend to reluctant and socially awkward partner played by Clemence Poesy. In the last few years he also appeared in other series such as Hunted, A Touch of Cloth and Secret State. In all three Dillane played a villain with as much grace and success as he has playing romantic heroes and complicated good guys.

Game of Thrones, season 3
But it's his work as The One True King Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones that has brought in so many new fans. The only reason that this character who is perpetually mistreated and underused by the showrunnners is among some of the favorites of the audience who has not read the books is Dillane's fantastic acting.

Game of Thrones season 4 finale
In fact the show, writing and especially the people responsible for the series do not deserve Dillane along with other fine talents in the series where we have random supporting characters getting more screen time than people who are bringing such fantastic acting. Dillane shows up roughly for 15 minutes each season, being one of the only two characters involved in 2 major battles in the series so far which is only making the show's disrespect of him more baffling. It goes to show that blonde girls doing nudity have more to do on HBO than actual experienced actors bringing in their A game, always, at all times, in all scenes.

His scenes are so often the highlight of the episodes - the mixture of moving (the scene where his wife mentions all of their dead children), hilarious (most recently the bank scene) and epic (kicking ass in Blackwater and showing up in season 4 finale). Dillane's involvement in the show is currently the only thing that is keeping me watching so let's hope that he is finally getting the material, screen time and admiration he deserves in upcoming season 5.

Spy Game
Favorite films:

The Hours
Fugitive Pieces
Game of Thrones
Firelight
Spy Game
Perfect Sense
John Adams
The Tunnel

Fugitive Pieces
Favorite performances:

The Hours
Fugitive Pieces
Game of Thrones
John Adams
Firelight
The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall
The Tunnel
Haven
The Greatest Game Ever Played
Haven 

Favorite characters:

Leonard Woolf, The Hours
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams
Stannis Baratheon, Game of Thrones
Mal, 44 Inch chest
Charles Harker, Spy Game


Trivia:
  • Worked as a Journalist before becoming an actor.
  • Was inspired to try acting after reading about how Sir Trevor Eve gave up a career in Architecture to become an actor.
  • Did not start acting until he was in his mid-twenties.
  • He was awarded the 1999 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse, London, England.
  • His son, Frank Dillane, played the role of teenage lord Voldemort in Harry Potter films
  • On nudity on Thrones -  “It doesn’t particularly appeal to me, reminds me of German porn from the 1970s. But I presume it serves a purpose, and the merits of the show far outweigh my concerns on that score.”
  • But there's also a great deal of whimsy - check out this Q&A


HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

19 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday to a fine man and a talented gentleman. I noticed him playing Thomas Jefferon in John Adams and he was just perfect in that role. I kept calling him the Thomas Jefferson guy, you know Thomas Jefferson! But he's good in all that I've seen him in and criminally underused in GoT. I had no idea it was his son who played teenaged Voldemort! Harry Potter has some neat connections...Brendon Gleeson was Mad-Eye and his son Domnhall played Bill Weasley.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the actors just brought their kids to work and voila :) Harry Potter is like a real mine of British talents, it's actually odd that Dillane didn't get to play anyone there

      Delete
  2. Love this post!!! A lot of his filmography is so hard to come by. It's frustrating, I want to see Fugitive Pieces so badly.

    I'm glad Dillane gets a lot of love on your blog. Hail Stannis!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I think it's in online streaming somewhere....

      All hail the king! We're probably getting first trailer soon I hope he is in that.

      Delete
  3. Damn, man! I always thought Dillane was Scottish for some reason. It disappoints me to hear he's not but a fine post all the same, Sati. He's a great actor! I'm a big fan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Nope, he's a true London born gentleman :)

      Delete
  4. 'Firelight' was the first film I saw Stephen in, so that movie will always hold a special place in my heart. But my favorite Dillane performance is as Thomas Jefferson in 'John Adams.' Seriously, it was the only movie in which I thought a 250 year old dead guy was smokin' and that was all b/c of Dillane. I'm still pushing for HBO to make a series dedicated just to Jefferson with Dillane. I'd watch the heck out of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be such a great series, I wish they showed his marriage - it's such a beautiful and tragic story. It's really weird no one is making movies about his life.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I agree. I would love to see a movie about that. That's one perspective that hasn't been shown before. His wife seemed to be a very colorful woman. I think she divorced her first husband, which was usual in those days. She was also a musician. I would also like to see more about his relationship with Sally after his wife passed away. She supposedly was his wife's half-sister. Lots of good material for a Jefferson biopic. Nick Nolte just didn't cut it. He was in 'Jefferson in Paris' about 20 years ago.

      Delete
  5. Oh I didn’t know Ruffalo, Mikkelsen and Stephen all have a b’day this month, so no doubt November is a happy time for you :D

    This is awesome, I love it when a blogger devotes a post so passionately to an actor/filmmaker what have you, and few people do it better than you!

    “ Stephen Dillane is one of the best and unfortunately most under appreciated actors out there nowadays…” I believe it Sati, though I feel the same sentiment towards another seasoned Brit, Timothy Dalton. I really need to see more of his work, and there’s no shortage of recommendations here so thank you! I think The Tunnel is on Netflix too so I might give that a watch.

    Wow, I had no idea his son is an actor also, I don’t remember him in the Harry Potter films though, so I have to google it now.

    In any case, wonderful tribute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, very happy :P

      I go plain crazy over these people, but somebody needs to, dammit :)

      Timothy Dalton I think is getting new fans with Penny Dreadful, he was quite excellent there, but I only saw few episodes.

      The Tunnel is a very good show, the acting is strong and the story is quite entertaining too, but it's the lead performances that are the best thing about it.

      Delete
  6. Woohoo! Happy birthday to the One True King of Westeros. I need to watch more of his films.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You really do, he is excellent in all of his roles even in not so great movies :)

      Delete
  7. Great post! The Tunnel is on my ever-growing TV watchlist, but I haven't seen much of his work, apart from The Hours, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and a few films with minor roles. I need to check out more of his films.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would give anything to see The Tunnel, but it is unavailable here in the U.S. :-(

    ReplyDelete
  9. Stephen Dillane is as good an actor as Mark Rylance and deeply gorgeous.

    TBH Im amazed you havent included his amazing performance in Welcome to Sarajevo, Mike Winterbottoms excellent film based on a UK journalists experience in Bosnia - you have to see it forthwith! ;)

    http://putlocker.is/watch-welcome-to-sarajevo-online-free-putlocker.html
    Also look out for the incredibly beautiful Goran Visnic as their driver and interpreter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Stephen is a much better actor than Rylance.

      I saw WtS after I wrote this post, but I actually wasn't a big fan of the movie

      Delete