Jeffrey Wright is an extremely talented Actor but for some inexplicable reason he’s been relegated to playing innumerable supporting roles rather than being allowed to perform as a leading man. Regardless of his status within the film industry, it has to be said that for the roles he’s given, he’s proven himself to be one of the greatest Character Actors of all time.
Every time he appears on screen his performance varies so greatly that most viewers probably don’t realise it’s the same Actor. From the stern and unpleasant Carl Fairbanks in Broken City, to the cool yet quirky crime kingpin Peoples Hernandez in Shaft, all the way to the mild-mannered Mr. Dury in Lady In The Water, Wright always gives a captivating performance, on many occasions he even steals the scene from Hollywood A-Listers. In Manchurian Candidate for instance, Jeffrey Wright owned the small but important scene he appeared in against the veteran stalwart Denzel Washington. The moment his character Al Melvin confronts Ben Marco after his presentation to the boy scouts, his jittery and unhinged portrayal of an Army test subject is unforgettable. The way he contorts his face, his body language, the believability of his demeanour and expression, the way he delivers his lines, all these aspects give credence to the character he plays.
It’s quite clear that Wright gives his all in every film he appears, it is then quite astounding that his skills as an Actor haven’t been widely acknowledged. Wright to me in a hugely underrated and underexposed Actor, his mastery of the craft is evident regardless of the quantity of his lines, regardless of the time he’s given on screen, and regardless of the importance of his role. No matter which film you see him in, it can’t be denied that Jeffrey Wright is a great Actor.
The Wright Stuff.