Patrick Malahide: Chameleon
Inspired by Patrick Malahide’s chameleon like ability to change his appearance, voice, and very demeanor from role-to-role, the brilliant RFodchuk has come up with an equally brilliant idea for a new series: Are We Sure They’re Played by the Same Guy?
Granted, The Pickwick Papers aired in 1985, while The Paradise came out last year in 2012. Nonetheless, it still amazes me that they are played by the same person. The two characters, both shrewd, Victorian men, seem to be as chalk and cheese as they could possibly be. The differences reside primarily in their demeanor.
Alfred Jingle is a young fellow, a “strolling actor” by professed trade. In reality, he is a con artist, always looking for easy prey to mooch money and food from. Being a tall, good looking fellow, he usually seems to target well-to-do women. However, the Pickwickians, being genuine innocents, are equally fine targets and quickly fall for his charms.
Lord Glendenning is an older, widowed gentleman. He is a member of the gentry and has made a fine career in banking, which has added considerably to his wealth. I doubt he ever acts dishonestly, unless he truly feels it is for the greater good…perhaps to protect his daughter. He is shrewd, but not a bad sort.
This is where money comes into play! Jingle has a shirt, he really does, but it is in a rough way and he saves it for special occasions. His green jacket is well worn, out-of-date, and was obviously intended for a much shorter man. His best accessory is his battered top hat. You would think the sight of a shirtless man, albeit one with a jacket and cravat, with a dinged topper would arouse suspicion in anyone, but Jingle’s energetic and commandingly friendly demeanor save him from having to answer any unpleasant questions. It wouldn’t matter, though, he probably has about 50 answers ready made.
When he does come into some money, he buys uniforms rather than normal civilian clothing. He looks very good in the uniforms, and he knows it. They allow him to take on the guise of the handsome, young soldier: Charles Fitz-Marshall.
Lord Glendenning (What *is* his first name?) has an impeccable style. He generally favors warm chocolate browns and soft greys. He has an array of spiffy, unbattered toppers, and the loveliest riding costume ever. He seems to take a lot of care in his attire, but he is not flashy or anything.
He also has some spiffy evening wear that he wears regularly. Everything about him is very conservative and meticulous. Yet, it is also warm, as evidence by choice in colors.
Jingle is all movement, constantly analyzing every situation. He is very rarely still. Even when he looks still, you can see his eyes moving from target to target, and his hands surreptitiously maneuvering themselves for a wine refill. He is high energy all the way.
Malahide’s voice for Jingle is, of course, perfect. He is sharp and commanding. Jingle seems to avoid conjunctions, speaking in bizarrely short and to-the-point, pithy phrases.
But, not Lord G. He plays a much slower game, and while physically active (loves shooting, riding, and is generally very hearty), takes a much more leisurely approach. He is someone who has worked hard to attain and maintain his level of comfort. But, I think his slower game is no less astute than Jingle’s. As a banker, he is also used to sizing people up, just for different reasons.
Again, Malahide’s vocalization is amazing. Lord Glendenning’s slightly raspy, velvety voice is just perfect. It conveys comfort and thoughtfulness, two words that pretty describe Lord G. himself.
Although shrewd, they both have their warm sides. Jingle has his ‘man servant’ Job. Job might be a servant, but he is more like a friend, or even a brother to Jingle. Looks-wise, he is kind of scary, like a rabid Baldrick. But, he is actually very intelligent and extremely devoted to his master, who he looks upon as his only friend. He even winds up being more of a carer to Mr. Jingle when things go wrong for the strolling actor.
Lord Glendenning has his daughter Katherine. She is haughty, spoiled, manipulative, and likely mentally unstable. But, their relationship has its sweet, earnest moments. They seem genuinely devoted to each other. Lord G. knows he has made mistakes in indulging her, but it is a habit I don’t think he’ll be breaking anytime soon.
With over 20 years between the two characters, a physical transformation is bound to happen. Plus, as Jingle, he had all that unruly hair and darkened brow. But, it is the deeper differences one really notices. Jingle’s playfulness and care-free attitude are a stark contrast to Lord G’s general contentment, peppered with the odd growled warning. That ability to play a multitude of different types is part of what makes Malahide such an enjoyable actor to watch.
The Reverend Edward Casaubon / Jack Turner
Like Admin’s highly entertaining example above, there’s a substantial seventeen year gap between “Middlemarch” (1995) and “Hunted” (2012). So, how does one compare a Georgian era, (mostly) mild-mannered country clergyman with a 21st century Cockney multi-millionaire mobster boss with a bad temper? The answer is verrrrry carefully… and Patrick Malahide approached them in very different ways.
The Reverend Edward Casaubon is a 45-year-old clergyman in a small English village whose primary activity, prior to being married, was working on his magnum opus, The Key to All Mythologies, a book which once written would probably have been read by nearly nobody (sorry Casaubon, but it’s true). He’s highly intellectual, introverted, insecure, shy, and unaccustomed to personal dealings and relationships, and as a result, can be very prickly and peevish. He seems much older than his years.
Jack Turner is nothing even close to a clergyman; he’s a 60-something mobster grandad who spent much of his youth and young manhood as a hard-scrabble docks worker, when he realized there were better ways of getting ahead than manual labour. He’s streetsmart, extroverted, extremely confident, and an expert manipulator, whether it’s by a sort of easy-going (yet still scary) charm or more often his preferred tactics: blackmail, bullying, and violence. He is not a nice man. However, he has a great deal of energy and seems much younger than his actual years.
What personal style?? Casaubon has never thought about style; it’s probably one of the furthest things from his mind, and he looks as if he hasn’t considered it in years, perhaps decades. Even George Eliot mentions his “unfashionable shoe lacings”. Luckily for him, he can get away with basic black and a snowy white neckcloth most of the time, and no one will think twice about it. And it’s not due to lack of wealth, either; Casaubon is loaded, but he’d rather spend it on books. It’s an unintended but beneficial side effect that his wardrobe, plus his pale skin and reserved demeanour, give him something of a… dare I say it… vampiric air. Have we perhaps discovered part of the secret of wife Dorothea’s attraction to him? 😉
By contrast, Jack Turner never met a brightly coloured stripe, check, or polka-dot that he didn’t like – and sometimes try to wear all at the same time (see above and left). His clothes are undoubtedly expensive and tailored to order, and just as undoubtedly a means of flamboyant display – perhaps in the same way that certain venomous, highly dangerous lizards and amphibians advertise their lethality in bright colours. Turner has never heard of the words “understated elegance”, and even if he had, the chances are excellent he’d just ignore them completely anyway. When he does wear basic black, it’s usually because he’s planning for mayhem ahead, and expensive leather jackets are easier to get blood (not his own) off of than pinstriped Savile Row suits. Note that I re-saturated some of these pics in order to counteract “Hunted’s” annoying propensity for colour-distorting filters, so the full effect could be appreciated. Anyway, yes, Turner’s something of a clotheshorse (and Malahide wears his wardrobe with undeniable panache), but you’d never say it to his face.
Casaubon is shy and reserved, socially awkward, yet sometimes (more frequently after his marriage) prickly and bad-tempered, due to his insecurities being forced to the surface. He prefers to speak in quiet, cultured tones about his favourite topics. He’s not used to dealing with other people, let alone being married to one, and he becomes so crippled by inward doubt about his life’s purpose that he lashes out at Dorothea. That said, he does have his moments of quiet, understated tenderness, pride, and even very dry humour. If he wasn’t suffering from a terminal illness and could maybe begin to communicate with and trust his wife, he has the potential to be a decent, caring human being. Without Malahide’s portrayal, though, it’s doubtful we’d find him as sympathetic a character.
There are very few who would describe Turner as a decent human being… but that’s kind of why we like him. He’s a brash Cockney from a working class background who’s deeply devoted to his family – some might say too deeply, but I’m going to ignore most of what happens in the last episode of “Hunted” – adores his grandson Eddie, and generally does whatever it takes (using his preferred tactics, see above) to make sure his loved ones have the best of everything. If anything, he’s a bit overprotective, but he is a mobster boss and he’s got lots of enemies. Interestingly enough, overprotectiveness is a trait he shares with Casaubon, both with disastrous results. He’s at his most dangerous when he seems to be friendliest; a cheery grin from Turner (or heaven help you, praise) are a certain sign of your impending doom. Malahide makes him one of the most cheerfully amoral (or amorally cheerful) grandads you’re ever likely to meet.
Casaubon doesn’t have one! Well okay, that’s not quite true. It’s just very hard to find. He’s initially quite shyly flattered (masterfully portrayed by Malahide – and we find that Casaubon is very susceptible to flattery) when Dorothea expresses an interest in his studies and so taken by her adoration and seemingly perfect suitability for him that he proposes to her within a very short span of time. He’s quietly proud when he’s showing her around his house, and even discloses that he supported cousin Will Ladislaw’s family when they were in need. His fleeting moments of warmth and tenderness make us wish we’d gotten to see more of what he might have become.
Turner shows most of his genuine warmth only to grandson Eddie, and even then it’s with the somewhat awkward conversation of an adult who really doesn’t quite know how to interact with a ten-year-old; it’s a subtle touch by Malahide. That said, the scene where we find that Turner’s idea of a good story for his grandson is telling him about a fatal paint factory fire he saw as a boy is just too hilarious. He’s simultaneously the most fiendish and psychotic grandad one could ever imagine! Sadly, son Steven seems to have been almost completely shut out of his father’s warmth in favour of his deceased elder brother; he’s valuable to Turner now mostly as Eddie’s father. Turner treats him as if he’s still a child and excludes him from business dealings – granted, when Steven does find out what’s really going on, he’s very sorry he did.
These are two extremely different characters who both seem very unappealing on their surface; can, and do, behave reprehensibly; and both have an unshakeable belief in their own rightness, but yet retain enough traces of their humanity that it’s still possible to feel sympathy for them. Okay, it’s a bit more of a near thing with Turner, but it’s not that hard to do after watching him talk about his murdered son, John, or seeing his interactions with Eddie. So it seems that the milk tea clergyman and whiskey or stout mobster may actually have more in common than one might imagine – though Casaubon might employ Thomas Aquinas’ skull rather than a bust of Karl Marx if he wanted to do some bludgeoning, say, of troublesome cousins… but no, of course he’d never! 😉
I think that the credit for the fact they’re both as appealing as they are despite what they do can be directly attributed to Patrick Malahide’s portrayal and his ability to give them nuances and facets beyond their surface characteristics and traits, resulting in much deeper, more complex characters than one might have bargained for, and a far more enjoyable viewing experience.