Sunday, March 22, 2009

façade: Denis O'Hare

Denis Patrick Seamus O'Hare, character actor extraordinare
An adjustable wrench is defined as an essential tool that can be shifted in size to fit and tighten any nut or bolt. AKA, the adjustable spanner.

That description also applies to a club of reliable character actors, among whom Denis O'Hare is the latest member. A staple of the Broadway stage - he played Oscar to Christina Applegate's Charity Hope Valentine in the recent revival of Cy Coleman's "Sweet Charity" (see photo below) - O'Hare has seemingly become a ubiquitous face in one new movie after another, most currently in Tony Gilroy's twisty "Duplicity."

This may be O'Hare's breakthrough role in movies. As Duke Monahan, he is alternately playful, untrustworthy and always a pleasure to watch - all of this considering that he holds the screen against such hugely watchable performers as stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen.

What can I say? Preston Sturges would have loved him.

Recent O'Hare performances have included a homophobic, anti-gay senator in "Milk," two Angelina Jolie vehicles, "A Might Heart" and "The Changling," a pediatrician in "Baby Mama," one of Ryan Gosling's more disreputable teaching colleagues in "Half Nelson" and assorted roles in "Charlie Wilson's War," "Garden State," "21 Grams," "Michael Clayton" and Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown," his first major movie.

As a singer, O'Hare also got to play Prince Dauntless opposite Tracy Ullman in the 2005 TV movie of "Once Upon a Matress."

He's built up quite an impressive filmography in a relatively short amount of time. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him - and more often.


wwolfe said...

The first time I saw him was in a remarkable performance in an episode of "Law & Order," in which he played a schizophrenic man who represents himself in a murder trial. His ability to let us see why a person suffering from his condition would choose to not take his medication, and his depiction of the character's mental disintegration after the medication wears off, was truly heartbreaking.

jkaiser said...

wwolfe took it right out of my mouth. O'Hare has also racked up some other good L&O performances over the years, another memorable one being the leader of small town militia on trial for the an armored car robbery that left 3 dead. He was quite chilling in that one.

Denis said...

Does anyone know the name of that particular episode of Law & Order, where he played the schizophrenic and his sister finally testifies against him? I'm a college professor of mental disability, and I would LOVE to get a copy of that episode to show exactly what he gave in that performance! Cuz wwolfe is quite right - that episode always brings tears to my eyes... BTW, I tried to email Mr. O'Hare directly about this a year ago... No response... :>(

mirisp said...

Denis is absolutely awesome. I discovered him in True Blood as Russell Eddington and I must admit he is the best character in the show. I love the way he changes from sweet to evil. Definetively u can guess he's been on stage for good.
Hope to see him more often on the theatres.