Daniel Day-Lewis (Daniel Plainview) – There Will Be Blood: Hardly a revelation to suggest a Daniel Day-Lewis character would be among this list, but this is widely regarded as one of the best screen performances for a reason. It was a perfect demonstration of complex and intricate characteristics that had clearly been worked on for some time. The result is a trademark intense, mesmeric presence, which Day-Lewis has seemingly mastered better than anyone, I would propose. A master class in acting.
Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh) – No Country For Old Men: Again, iconic, and rightfully so. Javier Bardem gave me nightmares in this performance. The deeply cold and harrowing character of Anton Chigurh was delivered perfectly by Bardem. Set within a Coen brothers masterpiece only adds to the grand deliverance. The disconnect of Chigurh from the rest of civilisation was particularly disturbing. The scene at the petrol (gas) station is a great demonstration of the awkwardness that comes with such a disconnect.
Renée Zellweger (Ruby Thewes) – Cold Mountain: From the moment Ruby arrives on screen, her amazing energy emanates through. Ruby is funny, boisterous, tough as nails and yet also caring. The physicality in the way Renée carries herself is so great to watch, along with the amazing thick accent. It’s a performance I had heard a lot about prior to watching it and it delivered in every way possible.
Rani Mukerji (Michelle McNally) – Black: The struggle and emotion that Rani manages to project are masterful. That very struggle of being both deaf and blind is so palpable as an audience member in the way that it’s delivered. To embody those disabilities and become that character over the course of a film, while grasping that emotional energy must be very challenging. It’s a performance I really admired.
Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold) – Entourage: Quite possibly my favourite character on TV. So many iconic moments and one-liners delivered by Ari throughout the Entourage series. It was a big part of my school and university life, so I have a nostalgic feeling towards it too. The chaotic combination of charisma, brashness, arrogance and wit was performed perfectly by Jeremy Piven. The paintball gun scene will forever be one of my favourites.
Ricky Gervais (David Brent) – The Office: Perfection. The impact of The Office within pop culture can’t be overstated. I have friends from all over the world who, like me, have been heavily influenced by the masterful character of David Brent. It’s genius. The idiosyncrasies and depth of Brent are played so brilliantly by Gervais. The juxtaposition of Brent being surrounded by normal people only magnifies its brilliance.
James McAvoy (Macbeth) – Macbeth: I saw James McAvoy play Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios a few years ago. I was always a big admirer of his, but even more so after the performance. The intensity and physicality he displayed was something to behold. So, imagine my reaction when McAvoy disrupts the performance to help an audience member that had seemingly fainted in the front row only to then crack a couple of jokes, before heading straight back into the performance. I was in awe.
Ruth Wilson (Alice Morgan) – Luther: One of my favourite villains. Ruth is so great in everything she does. She managed to bring a performance that captures intensity, mystery and seduction, but also terrifying at the same time. The way Alice displays volatility and a real cold feel were beautifully played. Moreover, we also get to see a side to her personality, which displays genuine care and loyalty.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (title role) – Everyman: Chiwetel Ejiofor took me on a wild journey in his performance for Everyman at The National. Considering Ejiofor barely left the stage throughout the piece, his maintenance of energy in his performance was genuinely incredible. I was lucky enough to be in the front row so that I could really see and feel everything, even the sweat on Ejiofor’s brow. I left feeling really inspired about my own craft.
Kayvan Novak (Waj) – Four Lions: If we are talking favourite performances, this has to be in there purely for how much it made me laugh, and continues to do so. I’ve been a big fan of Novak’s since the Fonejacker days, but his portrayal of Waj in Four Lions is so iconic. From even the first scene where he references his ‘big hands’, Waj, totally mocked the stereotypes surrounding terrorism we are all fed on a daily basis.
Hamza Siddique is an ex-cricketer and now a London-based actor. You can follow him on Twitter & Instagram: @hamzasiddique