Call them what you want - character actors, "That Guy(s)," scene stealers - I don't care. This is a regular feature where I spotlight one performer, whether they be longtime veterans like J.K. Simmons or Barry Corbin, or a fresher face just making their way up the stardom ranks. For previous FF-UNs, click here.
Today's Familiar Face-Unknown Name:
Where You've Seen Him (high profile): Sherlock Holmes, Miami Vice, Hancock, Mission: Impossible III, V for Vendetta, Gangs of New York
Where You've Seen Him (not-so-high profile): 21 Grams, Vera Drake, The New World, The Illusionist, Happy-Go-Lucky, Me and Orson Welles, loads of British television.
Character Specialties: Oddballs and cops about sums it up, I think. Marsan has a very, very distinctive look, yet it's one that's a bit hard to pin down. I wouldn't say that he's destined to play villains, but more than anything else, he's got a serious, serious look to him, despite his ability (demonstrated in Sherlock Holmes, amongst others) to play for laughs as well. Might be considered a true chameleon if it weren't for the fact that he's so recognizable.
My favorite role: I really wasn't a fan of Happy-Go-Lucky, but Marsan's role as Scott was by far the best part about it. Whereas protagonist Poppy embodied all that is optimistic and Pollyanna-ish in this world, Scott was the yin to her yang - bitter, humorless, generally angry at the world. Yet Marsan sold it; I didn't want to be in the car with his driving instructor, either - he was a road rage threat at any second.
Little Known/Random Facts: From IMDb: "served an apprenticeship as a printer before beginning his career as an actor."
From an interview with Venice Magazine: "My dad was a truck driver. My mum was a school dinner lady. Just solidly working class across the board. I served an apprenticeship as a printer, and then when I passed my apprenticeship my boss, who was an alcoholic, said “In twenty years time, you can be where I am."
From the same interview, on his time working on Gangs of New York: "That was a fantastic experience, but it almost destroyed my career. I did nine months on it, and had a great storyline with Jim Broadbent, which ended up being cut and I only had one line in the final cut. So at the end of all that, I had no work to show for it and was unemployed for a while. But I loved it. I learned a lot from working with Jim Broadbent, just in terms of how to handle yourself on a film set, a really great example."
On being a character actor, in an interview with In Contention.com: "I have friends who are leading men, and they’re only ever allowed to play leading men of a certain type,"..."But as a character actor, there’s a wider variety of projects available. On the big Hollywood films, all they care about is having their lead in place, so it’s actually easier for someone like me to slip in. And I’m happy to do so."