Whether it is playing or a ’goodie’ or baddie’ audiences seem to love a hard man. The alpha male who struts through a city righting injustices or crushing anyone who stands in their way. What is it about these men that makes them tough and why do audiences keep buying their tickets for a cinema experience of scowling looks and knuckles to cheek connections? Some actors have made playing the tough guy a career choice and honed it down to a fine art. Here is a look at some of Hollywood’s finest brooding muscle.
Th Austrian turned American had such an intimidating presence he was cast as the most diabolical robot killer. Dressed in leather and usually hauling an oversized gun for his requirements Schwarzenegger scared the world with his Terminator films and his ability to play a lifeless being was scary in its accuracy. After a short stint in politics he has returned in many more film showing off his hard man nature often playing on his age and maturity. In life Arnie has a reputation for all things big whether it is muscle or his cars, often seen driving around California in his Humvee. Arnie very much likes these imposing aspects of his life and it only helps to perpetuate his persona as Hollywood’s most eminent hard man.
The Northern Californian native has one of the most famous lines of any hard man in his Dirty Harry films. "Do you feel lucky punk?" is enough to scare an audience at the same time they squirm over how cool it simply was. Eastwood could even play a hard man even when he didn’t speak like his blonde character in the spaghetti westerns. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a masterpiece in silent intimidation. More recently age has not even been able to stop him being ‘hard’ as he puts an Asian gang to shame in Gran Torino playing a dying veteran. This guy has some serious credentials.
When you think of the type of characters that attract the alpha male, you might think loner, military or sportsman. Well Sylvester Stallone has done it all, and more impressively for many of those characters, he wrote them! Stallone has a gift for impactful words as well as impactful violence. His Rocky films are littered with famous quotes. As Rambo Stallone was iconic in the action scene becoming one of the most famous action franchises of all time. His characters like to offload lots of bullets but let’s not forget the quiet intimidation of silent Rambo in First Blood. Stallone is arguably the king of action and is the first in mind when one thinks of the American ideal of a hard man.
Brad Pitt may think of himself as a serious actor but for many of us he is the fighting traveller in Snatch, Ed Norton’s menace in fight club and Nazi destroyer of Inglorious Basterds. Pitt is a Hollywood hunk first and foremost but that does not mean he can play the tough guy too, with the right make up. Oh and let’s not forget his fighting skill were what attracted Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith. Although I hear it is not going so well at the time of writing.