JANUARY 21, 2010 12:12PM

Open Call: Who's your most underrated actor?

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Over at Salon, film critic Stephanie Zacharek has written an essay celebrating the underappreciated acting talents of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Comparing him to the likable leading men of Hollywood's golden era, she writes:

Plumbing the appeal of Dwayne Johnson the actor requires setting the size of the package aside for a moment, the better to zero in on subtleties: The expressiveness of those unnaturally mobile eyebrows or the way, either in character or during the course of an on-camera interview, he almost seems to blush when he makes a self-deprecating joke, as if he were wary of calling too much attention to himself. Johnson is so good-natured that even when he's not wearing a smile, his facial muscles carry the ghost of one.

 Zacharek's piece got us thinking: Who else is going unrecognized in Hollywood? So we're posing the question to Open bloggers: Who's your most underrated actor, and why?

Tag your posts underrated actor.

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Okay. I posted but my comment disappeared.

Val Kilmer. He was appreciated for a time, but has not been in enough films. I think his best work was in "The Doors" and "Tombstone" when he played Doc Holliday. He was magic in that movie.
Me. Plenty of low-to-medium gigs, some good callbacks but waiting for that "breakout" role! :)

Maybe when I get back to Chicago? . . . ;)
So funny that my sister and I were talking about how adorable Dwayne Johnson really is! Are you focusing on movies or television or you don't care which?
Dwayne doesn't like the tag "The Rock."
My personal vote goes to Don Cheadle. I expected him to become the next Denzel Washington ever since I discovered him on Picket Fences. But aside from Hotel Rwanda, he has yet to transition into the role of leading man. On the plus side, at least he found a director who appreciates his talents as much as I do in Steven Soderbourgh.

@Natalie: Great call with Val Kilmer. I had almost forgot about him but he definitely stole the show in "Tombstone". Apparently Val's difficult to work with, hence the lack of great roles.
Living: Toss up between David Strathairn and Kevin Pollack.
Dead: Dean Martin and Bob Mitchum
Great responses so far, everyone! Make sure to blog your ideas, too.
I'll have to give this some thought. There are so many underrated actors that I love. I've already posted about Adam West and Jackie Earle Haley.
well, I just wrote about mine - Jeff Bridges - in some detail in my review this week of his new movies Crazy Heart, so have just added the tag to that post.

I also used to tout Philip Seymour Hoffman, but that was way back when no one knew who he was....
Re: due date. Nothing firm. Just post within the next few days and we'll be putting favorites on the cover probably through mid-next week.
Travis, Don Cheadle's remarkable guest turn on ER as a somewhat older intern with early onset Parkinson's was amazing. Definitely worth your time to view. Also check out the movie _Crash_. I love the man.
Carla Gugino, Norma Shearer.
Kinuyo Tanaka and Komaki Kurihara.
John Goodman. Because of his stint on Rossane, he kind of got pegged as a sitcom actor, but has done really excellent work with the Coen brothers, starting with Raising Arizona, continuing on with Barton Fink, Brother Where art Thou, etc. There are really bad actors claiming to be Shakespearean like Robert Reed, George Tekai, but I would not have trouble believing that dispite his appearance and manner, Goodman would grasp the text and be able to portray it's inhabitants.
Representing the departed: Van Heflin - interesting that this talent is never brought up in conversations about classic Hollywood film stars. Check him out in 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers' with fellow underrated genius Barbara Stanwick.

Alive: Bruce Greenwood.
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy & Breach)

Frances McDormand (in just about anything)

Kathy Bates (who is way more talented than many of her roles deserve)

The very talented couple: William H Macy and Felicity Huffman (who was brilliant in Transamerica)

Other actors that spring to mind:

Ellen Burstyn
Christine Baranski
Don Cheadle
Joe Morton
Debra Winger
CCH Pounder
Alfre Woodard
Ray Liotta springs to mind. After goodfellas I was sure he'd stay a major star.
I just posted my official response -- actor Ron Perlman. Happy reading.
Wow, I will take this challenge but "The Rock"? Really??? I love DJ and think is a charming guy and "The Rundown" was hilarious but he is not a great actor by any stretch in my opinion, considering all the REAL underrated actors. To each his/her own though.
I'm not going to write an entire post, but I have been impressed with Cole Hauser. He often brings a tender feeling to his roles, especially in his role as "Ray" in White Oleander, which happens to be one of my favorite movies.

I also have to agree with those who have mentioned Don Cheadle and Chris Cooper. Any time either of them are in a movie, I want to see it. But I like to think that they are not "underrated."

As far as performers no longer living, I think of Veronica Lake in Sullivan's Travels (1941). She passed away many years ago at age 53.
Underrated actor- Samantha Morton, Miranda Richardson, Kathy Bates, Catherine Keneer, Viggo Mortonsen, Benico Del Toro, Frances McNormand, Alfrie Woodard to say a few. There are so many...........

The woman who played 'Ralph' on Greeen Acres.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I just posted as to why.
Kim, my better 90% says: Jeff Bridges

I'm gonna go with: Alan Rickman

Thoughts: Michael Keaton where have you gone?

All actors that make the films they are in better.

Leading Actor (star): Bruce Willis, who is willing to act as a supporting player and makes the films better.

Clint Eastwood: Today considered a directing and acting god. During his long and storied acting career he was under-valued (sometimes maligned), becuase he was so under-stated.

Every movie he puts-out today is eagerly anticipated as it was in Mr. Eastwood's heyday. However, his acting heyday was all guts and glory (Dirty Harry, the spaghetti westerns), his films today are all glory (The Outlaw Josie Wales is a masterpiece)...I love Gran Torino.

Just my thoughts... there are so many great character actors that add to films or "make them" it's hard to decide.

Ask Scorcese... he's pretty much all knowing... and he talks fast
Travis: You wrote, "Natalie: Great call with Val Kilmer. I had almost forgot about him but he definitely stole the show in 'Tombstone'. Apparently Val's difficult to work with, hence the lack of great roles."

Could be, certainly; but could be that thing that just gets around because someone had an off day -- maybe not even Val. I remember in high school there was a rumor going around that I was pregnant. It wasn't true, not even possible, yet some things people believe without question. It is fun I guess.

I hope to see Val Kilmer have opportunities, or accept more opportunities, to do more great work. I feel he is not so much underrated as underused.
if it's a female----it's ACTRESS!! Katherine Shue
if it's a female----it's ACTRESS!! Katherine Shue
I feel a Gary Oldman fest coming on!

This topic has me thinking because it's not the simplest thing to define underrated.

Not acknowledged with awards? Not enough name recognition? Subtle actors whom we barely recognize (John Hurt, for instance)? Actors we take for granted? Actors who are just starting out? Actors more known for their star power and less for their talent (S. Bullock, Matt Dillon.)

This MSN article has a few bits of advice on the topic:

This is a funny category because the best actors tend
to be well appreciated by other actors whether they gain fame with the public or not . So my choices are the late George Grizzard, Rene Auberjonois, Charles Dutton, and David Trellfall.
How about Vince Deadrick, Sr.? http://open.salon.com/blog/trudge164/2010/01/24/vince_deadrick_sr_an_underrated_overworked_actor
I like John Goodman as a possible choice.

But some of the others...Clint Eastwood? Sheesh, I could only hope to be that underrated!

Goodman works because we equate him with comedy and he's actually far more complex and multi-faceted than that.

Val Kilmer, I can KINDA get that one. He's always getting a critical bashing. And he's a very committed actor, to say the least.

Silkstone, I'll have to read your piece on Jeff Bridges. He's one of my favorite actors. I just find it tough to think one of the all-mighty Bridge offspring is considered underrated.

I'm actually thinking of acting myself, submitting video to OS and calling myself the most underrated actress. Hell, I'm acting every day and I ain't gettin' no awards!
o.k. i put katerine shue, but the somebody put catherine keener & i must change my vote. can' figure out why she doesn't do more. also i must concur (thats agree) w/ the vote for McDormand. she's so good, we should melt when she comes onstage. Wm macy does good work, but guys porbably would vote Clint E. he's pretty versatile.