Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Forgotten Characters 5.6

Previously Forgotten: Christopher Walken in Annie Hall / Stephen Dillane in The Hours / Christina Baranskin in Chicago / Ray Winstone in The Departed / Zosia Mamet in The Kids Are All Right

Sometimes I look back at some films aware of how large their ensembles are but then I watch again and realise how many performers I missed. Large ensembles are a sure-fire way to get, potentially, lost in the riffraff and become a forgotten character especially when you’re something of a character actor getting immersed in your parts. This applies a great deal to

Adam Scott in The Aviator
as Johnny Meyer

Of late, any mention of Adam Scott would come in conjunction with his current work on Parks and Recreation, his recent work in Friends with Kids or his not so recent work on Party Down - as a comedian, in short. Of course, The Aviator does not emerge as a specifically comedic work – it is not. And Scott, playing Howard Hughes’ press agent, is one of a plethora of performers making cameos or playing bit roles (Alec Baldwin, Frances Conroy, Gwen Stefani, Matt Ross, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law) so it’s not especially surprising that his performance is not remembered oft, especially in light of his more recent success. I think it’s worthy of remembrance.
Adam Scott is someone we associate with congenial charm something his Johnny Meyer thinks he has, but does not. It’s essentially a take on the overly smarmy “friend” and press agent, because Hughes keeps everything close to his chest and Meyer exists in this cocoon where he thinks he’s more significant than he is. Howard is easily exasperated and Scott’s two significant both come at the Coconut Grove (where he wears the same suit, curiously).

more on Scott's well placed smarm after the jump...

 I love the exchange he has with Howard early on in the film:

- “Johnny, you are a press agent – are you not?”

- “Yeah.”

- “You’re supposed to know the ins and outs?”

- “Absolutely.”

- “Do you?”

- “Yeah, absolutely.”

- “Then you leave the big ideas to me.”

Exchanges like this where Johnny is reminded of his impotence because Scott’s reaction shots are so excellent. Even in his comedic work it’s his reaction shots that make him such an effective performer, and it’s the same cadence he brings to his work here. That awkward dinner conversation with Katharine Hepburn and Errol Flynn (discussed HERE) works because all the performers are doing fine work, the other three are more notable but Scott is doing just as well.

And, sure, the plateau of performances in The Aviator is strong and nuanced, but Scott deserves some recognition, I say.

What say you? Do you remember his Johnny Meyer?

1 comment:

Nick Prigge said...

Wow. I had honestly forgotten Adam Scott was in that movie. Hence the title of the post.