John Malkovich

Why Do People Hate John Malkovich?

John Malkovich is an acclaimed American actor known for his distinctive voice and ominous screen presence. He has starred in numerous critically praised films like Being John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire, and Places in the Heart, for which he received Academy Award nominations.

However, despite his acting chops, Malkovich has managed to rub some people the wrong way over the years. Here are some of the main reasons why John Malkovich has his detractors:

His unusual persona and acting style

Malkovich is known for portraying eccentric, threatening, and morally ambiguous characters. He has an idiosyncratic style of acting that some find off-putting:

His low, deliberate voice

Malkovich speaks in a quiet, breathy voice that unnerves some viewers. His slow, calculated line delivery makes his characters seem constantly sinister.

His passive aggression

He often plays characters who convey menace through quiet threat rather than overt aggression. This style disturbs some who prefer a more straightforward villain.

His physicality

Malkovich moves in a languid, almost feline manner, slinking around the screen. His posture and fluid gestures lend an air of unpredictability to his roles.

Arrogant and pretentious public persona

Malkovich has a reputation for being aloof, overly intellectual, and condescending in real life:

His sharp wit and sarcasm

He frequently makes cutting remarks and engages in intellectual one-upmanship during interviews. This rubs some the wrong way.

His cultural elitism

Malkovich has derided popular entertainment like comic book movies and reality television. His highbrow tastes strike some as snobbishness.

His bold fashion

He sports bold clothing like lavender suits and panama hats. His striking fashion reinforces his arrogant image for some.

Difficult behavior on set

Malkovich has clashed with directors and fellow cast members during film productions:

His conflicts with directors

He refused to follow the script during the filming of Being John Malkovich, preferring improvisation. This frustrated director Spike Jonze.

His tension with actors

He feuded with Robert Downey Jr. on the set of Heart and Souls, disliking Downey’s straightforward acting methods.

His demands for special treatment

Malkovich insists on luxury trailers and other special accommodations that some see as vain star behavior. These demands have annoyed some crew.

Memorable John Malkovich antagonist roles

Malkovich has carved out a niche playing memorable villains that stick in the public’s imagination:

Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom in Con Air

His sociopathic killer Cyrus was ruthlessly violent and sinister. The role gave Malkovich a strongly villainous association.

Mitch Leary in In the Line of Fire

As the would-be presidential assassin Mitch Leary, Malkovich was creepily obsessive opposite Clint Eastwood’s Secret Service agent.

Gilbert Osmond in Portrait of a Lady

His cruel, controlling manipulator in this Henry James adaptation made audiences hate him intensely.

FilmNotable John Malkovich Villainous Role
Con AirCyrus “The Virus” Grissom
In the Line of FireMitch Leary
Portrait of a LadyGilbert Osmond

Teddy KGB in Rounders

His Russian mobster who preys on Matt Damon in Rounders was both psychotic and Complex. He stole scenes with his malevolent screen presence.

Association with disturbing material

Malkovich has frequently acted in films and plays with dark, controversial content that disturbs moralists:

Starring in Dangerous Liaisons

His cruel, aristocratic Vicomte de Valmont in this erotic period drama about sexual manipulation offended some more conservative viewers.

Directing a production of Hysteria

He helmed a Broadway production of Terry Johnson’s play about the darkly comic treatment of mental illness in Freud’s time. The challenging material was seen asindulgent by some.

Acting in Of Mice and Men

As the handicapped Lennie Small in this adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic novella, Malkovich brought sensitivity but also an unsettling quality to the role that was polarizing.

In summary, John Malkovich’s unusual acting style and persona, arrogant public image, difficult on-set behavior, tendency towards villainous roles, and association with controversial material have all contributed to a segment of the public taking a dislike to him over the years. However, despite having some vocal detractors, Malkovich remains a compelling and distinguished screen presence who has given cinema some of its most indelible characters.

Is John Malkovich a good actor?

Despite his divisive reputation, most critics and cinephiles consider John Malkovich an exceptionally skilled and accomplished actor. Some key points:

  • He has two Academy Award acting nominations, for Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, testifying to the respect his acting garners.
  • He does an amazing job disappearing into roles, transforming his voice and physicality to inhabit even wildly different characters convincingly.
  • He conveys complexity and depth without a lot of dialogue, using his meticulous vocal delivery and subtle facial expressions to communicate a character’s emotions and intentions.
  • He boldly takes on challenging, unsympathetic roles, like his portrayal of Gilbert Osmond in Portrait of a Lady, without worrying about appeal or likeability.
  • He has proven adept in every medium, from stage to film to television, showing his versatility.
  • Great directors like Spike Jonze, Steven Spielberg, and Bernardo Bertolucci have praised Malkovich’s skill and professionalism.

So while he is not universally loved, John Malkovich’s acting talent remains widely admired in the entertainment industry and by serious cinephiles. His skill overcomes any dislike some may have for his idiosyncrasies.

What is John Malkovich’s most famous role?

John Malkovich’s most iconic and widely known role is undoubtedly that of John Malkovich in the fantastical comedy Being John Malkovich from 1999.

Directed by Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich starred Malkovich as a fictional version of himself. In the film’s surreal premise, the protagonist Craig Schwartz, played by John Cusack, discovers a portal that allows people to enter the actor’s mind and control him for 15 minutes at a time.

The idea of actually “being” the enigmatic actor proved powerfully intriguing to audiences. Malkovich appeared game for self-parody and the strange voyage into his psyche.

The role catapulted Malkovich to a new level of fame. His performance was widely praised:

  • He displayed excellent comic timing as well as gravitas as he portrayed a version of himself marked by melancholy and existential angst.
  • He conveyed the confusion and loss of identity his character experiences as others take control of his consciousness.
  • He subverted his own aloof image by showing vulnerability.
  • He gave the film psychological depth through his portrayal of a man struggling with disconnection from society.

Though not his first acclaimed performance, Being John Malkovich cemented Malkovich’s icon status in pop culture and remains his signature role.

What movies has John Malkovich been nominated for an Oscar for?

John Malkovich has received two Academy Award acting nominations over his illustrious career:

Places in the Heart (1984)

Malkovich received his first Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as Mr. Will, a blind boarder taken in by a widow played by Sally Field in 1930s Texas in this drama. Though not the showiest part, Malkovich movingly depicted the sensitivity and dignity of his character.

In the Line of Fire (1993)

His chilling turn as would-be presidential assassin Mitch Leary in this Clint Eastwood thriller earned Malkovich his second Best Supporting Actor nod. He was widely praised for bringing depth and nuance to the villainous role opposite Eastwood’s heroic Secret Service agent.

Though he did not win the Oscar for either performance, these nominations speak to Malkovich’s versatility and commitment as an actor. They come for very different roles in different genres, showcasing his impressive range.

What is John Malkovich’s net worth?

According to multiple reports, John Malkovich’s estimated net worth as of 2023 is around $60 million. Here are some of the factors contributing to the acclaimed actor’s considerable wealth:

  • Malkovich commands high salaries for film acting roles, easily earning millions for major movies. For instance, he was paid $3 million for 1999’s Being John Malkovich.
  • His prolific work rate, averaging 2-3 films per year, provides regular income. He has over 130 acting credits since beginning in the 1970s.
  • He has earned money for writing, directing, and producing films as well.
  • Repeat roles in franchises like Transformers bring in lucrative backend deals.
  • Theater acting and directing gigs add to his earnings.
  • He has invested in real estate and businesses like fashion lines.
  • Residuals from decades as a top Hollywood performer contribute to his wealth.

While known for his artistic sensibilities, Malkovich has also accumulated an impressive net worth through shrewd financial decisions and non-stop work across entertainment mediums. His fortune affords him the freedom to pick and choose projects.

Why is John Malkovich so creepy?

Several qualities of John Malkovich’s physicality, acting style, and roles contribute to his creepy, unsettling screen presence:

  • His slow, soft-spoken vocal delivery carries an undercurrent of menace.
  • His lanky frame moving with languid, fluid motions projects an predatory quality.
  • His ability to drain his face of empathy and convey coldness through expressionless stares.
  • His frequent portrayals of killers, gangsters, and villains associates him with the sinister.
  • His inclination towards threatening, amoral characters that seem possessed of a dark inner life.
  • The way he invades others’ personal space yet remains detached in interactions heightens discomfort.
  • His unusual line readings, emphasizing unexpected words, create unease.
  • His unconventional good looks, with hooded eyes and prominent bones, appear almost reptilian at times.
  • His air of arrogant eccentricity clashes with his characters’ malevolent tendencies.

Ultimately, Malkovich has made a career of portraying instability and deviance in a compelling but unnerving manner that strikes many as just plain creepy. He has emerged as perhaps his generation’s most effectively disturbing actor.

Was John Malkovich ever nominated for an Emmy award?

Despite his extensive and acclaimed career in film and theater, John Malkovich has somewhat surprisingly never received an Emmy award nomination to date.

He has appeared in some high-profile television productions over the years:

  • Playing Blackbeard in the pirate adventure miniseries Crossbones (2014)
  • Portraying Hercule Poirot in the BBC series adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders (2018)
  • Guest starring on shows like 30 Rock and The New Pope

However, he has yet to garner enough attention from Television Academy voters to earn an Emmy nomination for these or other TV roles. The oversight is likely due to the fact that Malkovich has worked much less consistently in television than film. His primary focus remains cinema over the smaller screen.

Additionally, when he has acted on television, it has tended to be in limited series or guest appearances rather than regular roles that might have built him more Emmy consideration over multiple seasons. So while never recognized specifically for TV, John Malkovich’s screen work remains award-worthy overall.

What accent does John Malkovich have?

Though he often performs accents for roles, John Malkovich speaks with the general Midwestern accent of his Illinois upbringing in real life. The accent features:

  • Shortened vowel sounds, like “melk” instead of “milk”
  • Neutralization of the vowel sounds in words like “cot” and “caught”
  • Absence of the Mary-marry-merry merger common in other American dialects
  • Minimal dropping of post-vocalic “r” sounds before consonants
  • Tendency towards monophthongs over diphthongs for vowel sounds
  • Few glottal stops replacing “t” sounds
  • Slight nasality and drawl, though less pronounced than in Southern accents
  • No strong regional identifiers like the Northern Cities Vowel Shift

With its lack of distinct hallmarks, Midwestern American English gives Malkovich flexibility with accents in acting while still keeping a subtle familiar base. His voice retains enough of the flat, open vowels of the Midwest to mark him as originating from that region. But the neutrality allows him to modulate his speech more easily.

What was John Malkovich’s big break as an actor?

Most observers would point to John Malkovich’s performance in the 1984 drama Places in the Heart as his true big breakout role that raised his profile in Hollywood and marked him as a serious talent.

In the film, Malkovich played Mr. Will, a blind boarder taken in by a widow played by Sally Field during the Great Depression. Though not the leading part, Malkovich managed to make a strong impression on audiences and critics:

  • With minimal dialogue, he conveyed dignity, wisdom, and sensitivity as a blind man struggling to adapt.
  • His chemistry with Field showed his ability to connect emotionally with scene partners.
  • His reactions and mannerisms displayed the nuance and commitment to character that would define his acting.

Malkovich earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the performance, establishing him as a talent to watch.

Following his breakout, Malkovich began getting starring roles and working with major directors much more frequently. His raw talent was finally given a proper spotlight. Places in the Heart served as his springboard from little-known actor to revered star.

5 Key John Malkovich films

Here are 5 essential films that highlight John Malkovich’s distinguished acting career:

  1. In the Line of Fire (1993) – His Oscar-nominated turn as cat-and-mouse assassin Mitch Leary opposite Clint Eastwood cemented his ability to play a mesmerizing villain.
  2. Being John Malkovich (1999) – This fantasy comedy provided Malkovich a career-defining meta role as a version of himself while showcasing his comedic skills.
  3. Dangerous Liaisons (1988) – His manipulative seducer Vicomte de Valmont proved his ability to capture decadence and moral emptiness even in period pieces.
  4. Of Mice and Men (1992) – As the mentally disabled Lennie, he gave a sensitive portrayal of disability alongside regular collaborator Gary Sinise.
  5. Empire of the Sun (1987) – His first collaboration with Steven Spielberg provided early evidence of his knack for eccentric, damaged characters as Basie the expat mentor to a boy in WWII China.

Is John Malkovich married? Who is his wife?

John Malkovich has been married twice:

First Marriage:

  • In 1982, Malkovich married American actress Glenne Headly, his co-star in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
  • They divorced in 1988 after 6 years of marriage. No children resulted from this first marriage.

Second Marriage:

  • In 1989, Malkovich married Nicoletta Peyran, an Italian film producer.
  • They have two children together: daughter Amandine was born in 1990, and son Loewy was born in 1992.
  • Malkovich and Peyran remain married as of 2023 and their marriage has now lasted 34 years, suggesting it is a stable relationship.

So while his first marriage quickly dissolved, Malkovich has found lasting love in second wife Nicoletta Peyran, with whom he shares a long-term marriage and two grown children.

What language does John Malkovich speak besides English?

John Malkovich is fluent in French in addition to his native English.

His French language abilities include:

  • Speaking with excellent pronunciation showcased in French-language films like Les Liaisons dangereuses and Je rentre à la maison.
  • Giving interviews in French without need of a translator.
  • Living part-time in France for years, immersing himself culturally.
  • Appearing in and directing French plays successfully.

Malkovich learned French as a high school student in Illinois. He continued practicing the language intensively at Eastern Illinois University.

Later opportunities to star in French films and productions kept his language skills strong. And his marriage to French-speaking wife Nicoletta Peyran gave him reason to use French regularly at home.

So thanks to early studies and continual use, John Malkovich attained and maintains impressive mastery of French to complement his English fluency.

Is John Malkovich a method actor?

John Malkovich does not consider himself a method actor, though he shares some techniques with that intensive acting philosophy. Malkovich has said he does not try to “live” his roles in real life the way method actors do. However, his approach does align with method acting in some respects:

  • He tries to fully inhabit the mindset of characters while on screen by drawing on personal memories and motivations. This emotional immersion resembles method techniques.
  • He alters his voice, posture, and physicality distinctly for each role, similar to techniques method actors use.
  • He remains in character and improvises on set. Staying immersed in the role is also method actor behavior.
  • He analyzes scripts psychologically to build characters from the inside out, a method staple.
  • He conveys realistic emotional responses using sense memory exercises, part of the method.

So while Malkovich does not follow method acting strictly, he integrates aspects like living through the role emotionally, thorough character construction, and immersive on-screen techniques into his intense, committed acting style.

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