Being someone else all the time is hard work. Often, some of the people who do it best aren’t noticed. They’re just so good at it that everyone thinks the characters they play is the real them. Well, here is my list of the most underrated actors today.
Nathan Fillion: Sure, he’s Richard Castle, writer and murder-solver extraordinaire. He’s funny, charming and relatable but he’s also shown that he can act in a dramatic situation just as well when his detective partner-in-crime-solving was shot and nearly killed. There’s no emotion he hasn’t expressed brilliantly as Castle or in his prior roles on TV shows like “Firefly” and “One Life to Live.” Someone please, get this man a starring role in a movie.
Heather Morris: Everyone pretty much knows the stars of “Glee” these days but most of the focus is on Lea Michelle (Rachel) and Jane Lynch (Sue). And the breakout movie role in “I am Number Four” that did nothing to dazzle anyone went to Dianna Agron (Quinn). But the real star of the show is Heather Morris as Brittany Pierce. Without her, the show would just be a bunch of over-the-top teens with way too much drama.
Morris is brilliant as the ditzy, blond cheerleader with witticisms such as: “Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?” and “I think my cat is reading my diary.” She’s so good that it’s easy to overlook her and think she’s just like that in real life. She’s actually a brilliant actress and dancer who once danced with Beyoncé and was asked to teach choreography to the other “Glee”sters before she became one of them.
Catherine Keener: I’ve always known that I love to watch Catherine Keener but I didn’t know that she is 52 years old and that she was born in Miami. She looks great and she’s a local girl. But the best part about her is her charm and charisma. No matter what character she plays, you have to fall in love with her, even as the enabling mother to the really strange adult son who can’t live without her in “Cyrus,” and definitely as Steve Carrell’s first time in “40 Year Old Virgin.”
She adds something to every movie she acts in. She’s been nominated twice for an academy award but has never won. What are those judges watching? It’s time they got new glasses and realized her value to Hollywood.
Taraji Henson: As the former hooker-turned-pimp’s-preggo girlfriend in “Hustle and Flow,” Taraji stole my heart. The expression when she heard her singing voice for the first time was priceless. From singing hooker to Benjamin Button’s selfless caregiver to the straight-laced detective in “Date Night,” there’s nothing Taraji can’t do and do well.
Yet she is almost always the supporting actress in any high profile movie, clearly a waste of an amazing talent. She even studied electrical engineering and once worked at the Pentagon.
Giovanni Ribisi: If you knew him as the unbelievably dim-witted brother of Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) on friends, then it’s hard to imagine he could ever play anything else. But he also blew away audiences in “Gone in 60 Seconds,” “Cold Mountain,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Avatar.” He’s everywhere he should be and his talent always shines through, yet he still isn’t the household name he deserves to be.
Timothy Olyphant: No one is more underrated than Timothy Olyphant. He makes any role he plays seem effortless and so real, you forget he’s an actor. One year it seemed that one minute he was a bald, wealthy businessman in a sitcom in “Samantha Who” and the next an Iraq war veteran, could-be serial killer with plenty of hair to cover the titanium plate in his head in “Perfect Getaway.”
Hair growing ability aside (and please note, he was gorgeous either way), he made “Perfect Getaway” one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and makes every movie or TV show he’s in worth watching. Yet he was still only billed as a supporting actor.
Hollywood needs a star like him to be the new leading man. Please, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and even George Clooney are getting old, and Jack Nicholson has been old. Bring in some younger blood. Give me some more Olyphant and stop underestimating him.
Here’s hoping all these actors will get the recognition they merit someday. They deserve to be noticed for being the stars they already are.