Anyone can memorize a line, pretend to be someone else, or rehearse witty comebacks to use in casual conversations. However, acting is deeper, an art relied upon by storywriters, directors, and film lovers around the globe as actors create characters who exist to dramatize the motivating ideas behind the film. A large part of Mise en Scène, actors, and their acting methods set the tone of a film, inviting us in with their techniques as we establish whether their acting will make or break the film. That is, actors must tell the story and be the characters they represent; otherwise, the performance is neither convincing nor relatable. Actors must create their character in depth by creating the world from which they develop, understand their thoughts, and consider the patterns of this character’s natural habitual response (Downs, 1995).
A film starring influential stars giving noteworthy performances is Man on Fire (2004), a favorite amongst moviegoers. Three actors from Man on Fire are Dakota Fanning, Christopher Walken, and Denzel Washington who stars as a former government agent suffering from a stress disorder and alcoholism, which affects his ability to perform on duty. After a friend (Christopher Walker) refers him to the family during the height of recent kidnappings to protect their daughter (Dakota Fanning) Washington becomes her bodyguard. Washington and Fanning develop a friendship and this closeness reawakens his spirit, and it becomes a more than a job to Washington: the very thing that gives him a reason to live, and take lives once notorious kidnappers take Fanning.
Co-starring in this film is the convincing Dakota Fanning as an articulately intuitive young Piza. Even at a young age, Fanning was versatile, capable of dramatic performance such as her portrayal as Rachel in War of the Worlds (2005), for which she received an MTV award. Fanning employs a type of acting known as method, requiring her to draw on emotions and experiences from her personal life to better portray her character. For instance, during an award winning performance in I Am Sam (2005), she thought of her pet goldfish dying to reach the heart and emotion of her character instead of pretending to be sad on set (BombsBeat, 2014). This personality actor delivers roles as if she simply delivers herself through films with her stylized method acting.
Christopher Walken has performed in over 100 films and television shows (IMDB, n.d.) and his formal training at a performing arts academy, the Professional Children’s School, contributes largely to his versatile acting style. A definite Wild Card, Walken moves effortlessly between genres and characters from Broadway musicals (The Dead 1999), the Angel Gabriel in The Prophesy trilogy, to comedy co-stars (Click, Wedding Crashers, 2009) (Walken, 2014). Casting Directors can and have placed Walken in several categories, speaking volumes of his flexibility as an actor.
Denzel Washington, as stated in the 2010 film The Book of Eli, “Doesn’t Play;’ his strength of personality and employment of the realism method follows this star from film to film. His characters are usually serious and strong, and his resolve to master his character’s role…