The Best Of Ed Harris

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Best Of Ed Harris

Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most talented leading men- known for his commanding voice, air of authority and striking features; he’s landed a brilliant range of varied roles, and garnered countless Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. To celebrate the release of The Face of Love, available on DVD and digital platforms from February 2, 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment, we count down some of his greatest roles over the years. 

The Face of Love (2014)

This understated, moving drama from Chumscrubber director Arie Posen, works from a highly unusual premise- Nikki (Bening) is a recent widow struggling to get over the loss of her late husband, when she unexpectedly meets Tom (Ed Harris) who happens to be a doppelganger of the man she loved for most of her life. As she embarks on a new affair with this double, the question arises as to whether she truly loves him or simply the memories he stirs. The film is also notable for featuring one of the final performances by the legendary Robin Williams.

The Right Stuff (1983)

Based on the book by Tom Wolfe, this action-packed drama covers the formation and development of America’s space program, concentrating on the original Mercury astronauts. Harris, in the first of his many forays into outer-space cinema, plays John Glenn, the straightforward scout of the group, who goes on to be the first American to orbit the earth. He’s joined by an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, Scott Paulin, Charles Frank, Lance Henriksen and Dennis Quaid.

Sweet Dreams (1985)

This acclaimed biopic of Patsy Cline stars Jessica Lange as the softly-spoken country music superstar, and charts her life until her untimely death following a plane crash in Tennessee in 1963. Lange is wonderfully matched by Harris, in a superbly menacing turn as Cline’s husband Charlie Dick, offering an insight into their turbulent marriage.

The Abyss (1989)

This Oscar-winning sci-fi drama directed by James Cameron stars Harris as the platform foreman manning a nuclear submarine, which crashes into an underwater cliff and sinks. The team are joined by nearby oil rig workers to investigate the cause of the crash, and as they crew embark on their mission they discover that they may not be alone…

apollo 13 (1995)

Based on the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission, this drama earned Harris an Oscar nomination for his role as Gene Kranz, the Apollo 13 Flight Director who rallies his team at mission control in a desperate attempt to get the astronauts home safely after a engineering fault leaves their ship stranded. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon play the crew that went down in history as heroes, for defying all the odds to return home safely.

The Truman Show (1998)

This brilliantly thought-provoking social satire focuses on the life of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), a seemingly ordinary man who slowly comes to the realisation that his entire life is in fact a 24-hour TV show. Carrey gives a stunningly moving performance as the everyman discovering his entire life is a lie, while Harris gives a wonderfully sinister turn as Christof- the producer responsible for the entire programme, who goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure Truman remains part of his perfectly engineered suburban bubble.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

This stunning biopic of tortured genius John Forbes Nash, Jr also stars Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, and focuses on the talented mathematicians’ battle with schizophrenia, and his eventual Nobel Prize. Following graduate school Nash (Crowe) turns to teaching and romances his student Alicia (Connelly). Meanwhile the government asks for his assistance in cryptography in order to break Soviet codes, embroiling him in a terrifying conspiracy. Harris plays William Parcher, Nash’s supervisor from the US Dept of Defence.

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

This historical dramas title is taken from William Craig’s 1973 nonfiction book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, which describes the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942 and 43. Although the film is fictional, it is loosely based on stories told by Soviet sniper Vasily Zaitsev. Jude Law takes the role of Zaitsev, who stalks German soldiers to damage their morale and raise that of his fellow countrymen- until Major Konig (Harris) arrives, determined to track down the famed Russian sniper and put an end to his killing spree.

A History of Violence (2005)

David Cronenberg directed this adaptation of the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, which recounts the story of the mild-mannered Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen), catapulted to local celebrity after a vicious attempted robbery in his diner. Heralded as a hero for killing the robbers in self-defence, he struggles to adjust to his newfound fame- and his attempt to return to his old life is further thrown into disarray when the mysterious and menacing Carl Fogarty (Harris) arrives in town, claiming Tom is the man who wronged him in the past…

Gravity (2013)

Alfonso Cuarón’s groundbreaking thriller set in space won seven Oscars, not least for its hugely innovative cinematography. Harris lends his voice to the role of ‘Mission Control’- although he is never seen. Instead, the action focuses on Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first ever shuttle mission, alongside veteran Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) who is planning to retire after the mission. When the shuttle is destroyed, Stone and Kowalsky are left to fend for themselves – tethered only to each other and spiralling into the darkness.

The Face of Love is available on DVD and digital platforms from February 2, 2015, courtesy of Signature Entertainment

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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