With a strong background in theater, John Malkovich comes across as studied and smart in whatever role he takes on, which makes him a natural for costume dramas. Since his breakout role in Dangerous Liaisons, he’s tended to play dark, sometimes outright creepy characters in frock flicks, but he does them in a seductive fashion that gets under your skin. I think it’s the intelligence and his reedy, whispery voice. He should be in some historical horror because he’s my ideal of a Victorian vampire! But surely he’s a nice person in real life, as he says:
“I don’t think, personally, I’m much like any character I ever played, including John Malkovich (in Being John Malkovich (1999)). I don’t really see the resemblance at all. It’s more a frequency you transmit than something that you fundamentally are.”
He’s not bad, he just acts that way!
Mr. Will in Places in the Heart (1984)
Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman (1985)
Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men (1992)
Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde in Mary Reilly (1996)
Gilbert Osmond in The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Athos in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Le Baron de Charlus in Marcel Proust’s Time Regained aka Le temps retrouvé (1999)
Charles VII in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau in Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Javert in Les Misérables (2000)
Monsieur Numance in Savage Souls aka Les âmes fortes (2001)
Charles Talleyrand in Napoléon (2002)
Charles II in The Libertine (2004)
Klimt in Klimt (2006)
Rev. Gustav Briegleb in Changeling (2008)
Duke of Wellington in Lines of Wellington aka Linhas de Wellington (2012)
Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in Crossbones (2014)
Giacomo in Casanova Variations (2014)
Dr. Felton in Last Call (2016)
Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders (2018)
What’s your favorite of John Malkovich’s historical costume movie or TV roles?
Dangerous Liaisons. And I really need to see Le temps retrouve. Sorry keyboard refuses to do French accent marks.
I thought he stuck out like a sore thumb in this. Yes, the costumes were fabulous, but his flat voice annoyed the hell out of me and he was outclassed by just about everyone.
Copy and paste ’em from the Internet. Anyway, do get hold of “Le temps retrouvé” For those who haven’t read Proust–or haven’t read him since university–it might be near incomprehensible in spots, but memory is like that, and the entirety somehow works to convey the spirit of the novels. I’m not sure how accurate the production is; it looks marvelous.
Thank you for including Crossbones in this list. That show was amazingly stupid and for some reason I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was the pirate equivalent of the electric-Jesus Dracula show staring Jonathan rhys Myers where you asked every week can it get anymore idiotic? Both shows consistently answered yes.
I can’t stand John Malkovich, but I actually liked him in this. Yes, it was stupid, but entertaining and almost worth it to see Julian Sands rant and rave.
He’s not a favorite of mine, but his self-portrayal in Being was great fun. I actually think it must have been hard to pull off. He was awful in Klimt. “phoned it in” as they say. Such a great subject he rendered boring. However, the fellow who played Schiele was spot on!
Klimt’s circle and that period in Vienna is my area of interest and collecting (No I don’t own an original Klimt!) Malkovich wandered into my booth at an antique fashion and textile show a few years ago, looking at the bathing suits. He wasn’t particularly interested in conversation!
Yeah he is (aside from his voice which is a hate-it-or-love-it feature that NEVER changes) a really interesting actor who is often very poorly cast, kind of like Willem Defoe. He’s so distinctive that it’s hard to not see “John Malkovich” in things (his casting as Poirot is a particularly egregious example as he in no way can pull off a Belgian accent), which doesn’t make him a bad actor at all, it just means that when he’s right for a part he is very, very right, and when he’s wrong…. My family and I were just talking about other actors with distinctive features like that and it so often comes down to their voices. Emily Mortimer is another one (and I adore her).
I will always view him with dubiousness, since they cast him over Alan Rickman in the film version of Dangerous Liasions.
I especially liked him in Dangerous Liaisons, Changeling, Places in the Heart, and Shadow of the Vampire. I also thought he was the best thing about The ABC Murders.
I have a soft spot for the “Walking on Broken Glass” music video.
So do I!
I actually have a hard time seeing him as sexy thanks to Lindsay Ellis comparing his diction to an unhappy Olive Garden customer. Just something about the way he talks… But he does wear fiendish very well.
One of my coworkers made his costumes for when he did the Libertine at Steppenwolf! Absolutely fascinating guy with hell of a scarf collection.
Just, “Linhas de Wellington”, like the tiltle in Portuguese, is a Portuguese, not French, production. In fact, Torres Vedras is a small town north of Lisbon, and the story is about how the Portuguese managed to defeat Napoleon. John Malkovich has a house in Lisbon and a few investments in the city.