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There are character actors and then there’s Peter Sarsgaard

August 12th, 2013  |  Published in In Focus

If you want to see great acting, watch Peter Sarsgaard.

Boys Dont Cry_Peter SarsgaardHaving first become aware of Peter Sarsgaard from his startling turn as John Lotter the conflicted, dangerous boyfriend in Boys Don’t Cry, I’ve admired his work ever since, watching as he’s made the boundaries blur between good guys and villains with effortless skill.

You’ve seen him and been wowed by his performances in everything from heavyweight dramas to blockbusters – as Chuck Lane the editor trying to figure out the truth of his journalist Hayden Christensen’s stories in Shattered Glass, as Carson the head of airline security being a friend or foe to Jodie Foster in Flightplan, as Troy the marine driven to insanity and tragedy in Jarhead, as David Goldman the dubious businessman wooing Carey Mulligan in An Education, as scientist Hector Hammond struggling to match his father’s idea of who he should be in Green Lantern and as Alan Smith the politician’s aide striving to do the right thing and help ex-love Reese Witherspoon locate her husband in Rendition.

Peter Sarsgaard_The KillingYou may though have as easily seen him in K-19: The Widowmaker, Kinsey, Garden State, Orphan, Knight and Day or the American version of The Killing. The common denominator in much of his work and where I think he excels is in portraying the middle ground of a character, the grey area that could so easily turn them from bad guy to good, or vice versa – and what’s ¬†more, you believe him as either, not an easy task. What’s also always a given is that he’s never less than electric to watch.

So with his new film Lovelace just out on release where he plays Chuck Traynor, the discoverer and mentor of the film’s star Linda Boreman, have a read of this fascinating interview where I was reminded of how many stunning performances he’s given and where he speaks so intelligently (and how odd that maybe because he’s played his fair share of villains his voice is described as ‘creepy’ it’s just distinctive!) about working on dark-hearted characters and how his curiosity always leads to discoveries.

Being a curious person leads you to playing villains

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