In a recent post about a question my daughter asked me, I mentioned that Daniel Stern has got to be on my list of “Most Beloved Actors.” It was just a passing thought at the time, but it got me thinking…
Who else is on that list?
So I started formulating my personal lineup of actors who have endeared themselves to me over the years because of the movie and television roles they have played. My only criteria is that they had to have at least two different and significant (funny and/or heart-warming) appearances. In other words, at least two movies, two television shows, or one of each.
Here, in no particular order, is my Top Ten.
- Daniel Stern. Roles: Phil Berkowitz, City Slickers. Adult Kevin Arnold (Narrator), The Wonder Years. I could listen to him read the Greater Metro Atlanta phone book and would most likely find myself harkening back to a simpler time. A time when things were easier, a time when life made sense, a time when people actually used the phone book.
- Michael Landon. Roles: Little Joe, Bonanza. Charles Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie. Jonathan Smith, Highway to Heaven. If you’re over 30, any list of beloved actors has to include Michael Landon. Those three credits are like the holy trinity of wholesome family programming. These shows are so packed with good morals and great memories, I can get emotional just hearing the theme songs.
- Robin Wright. Roles: Princess Buttercup, The Princess Bride. Jenny Curran, Forrest Gump. Once, I was in Park City, Utah with a couple of my friends. We were there for the Sundance Film Festival. One of the two friends had a role in a movie that happened to star Robin Wright. We went to the premier of the film and then somehow ended up at the after-party with all of these important people. My friend who was in the movie went up to Robin Wright, introduced himself, and told her what part he played. Our other friend and I were standing right behind him, just waiting for him to introduce us. He never did. When we got back home, my wife got mad that I said Robin Wright was “flawless.” And I felt bad about that. But she was.
- Meg Ryan. Roles: Carole, Top Gun. Sally Albright, When Harry Met Sally. Annie Reed, Sleepless in Seattle. Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail. Kate, French Kiss. Has there ever been a more adorable public figure than Meg Ryan? Seriously, how cute is she?
- Fred Savage. Roles: Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years. The Grandson, The Princess Bride. Really, any person who played in The Wonder Years could make my list of most beloved actors. (Even Josh Saviano, who played Kevin’s nerdy best friend Paul, and contrary to popular myth did not become goth rocker Marilyn Manson when he grew up.) The fact that he made a cameo as Peter Falk’s whiny, yet eager grandson in The Princess Bride is just icing on the cake.
- Sean Astin. Roles: Mikey, The Goonies. Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger, Rudy. Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Loyal, passionate, determined, and under-equipped to do what he needs to do. And still he overcomes all odds to succeed. That’s the story of all three of these roles. And Rudy has to be the most cheered for character in the history of film. “This one’s for Rudy, coach.”
- Kevin Bacon. Roles: Jake Briggs, She’s Having a Baby. Jack Swigert, Apollo 13. Jack Morris, My Dog Skip. I know you’re tempted to play the “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game with everyone else on this list. I imagine the most difficult person to link to would be Michael Landon. But if you can do it, let me know.
- Morgan Freeman. Roles: Various, The Electric Company. Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption. Azeem, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. God, Bruce Almighty. Hoke Colburn, Driving Miss Daisy. Come on, it’s Morgan Freeman. How can you not love him?
- Val Kilmer. Roles: Chris Knight, Real Genius. Simon Templar, The Saint. Doc Holliday, Tombstone. Real Genius is one of the most underrated comedies, in my opinion. And Doc Holliday has to be my single favorite movie character of all time. I quote him more than I quote anyone else. Want to tell someone you’re game? “I’m your Huckleberry.” Like to encourage someone to give it their best shot? “You’re a daisy if you do.” Need to encourage a friend who’s down? “There’s no normal life. It’s just life. Now get on with it.” I could go on, but you’d stop reading faster than Doc draws a pistol.
- Jodie Foster. Roles: Casey, Candleshoe. Annabelle Bransford, Maverick. Eleanor Arroway, Contact. Ever since I was a kid, there’s always been something about Jodie Foster.
Remember, this is my list, my opinions. So you can’t say I’m wrong. But feel free to disagree with my opinions.
Who’s on your list?