Some roles require overly-exaggerated character acting, particularly those in comedy films. For example, the breakthrough roles for Jim Carrey (in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask) saw him portray the lead characters in a very flamboyant fashion, as the script demanded. He has played several "straight" roles since.
Overacting may be used to portray an outlandish character, or to stress the evil characteristics of a villain. Academy Award winner Gary Oldman was almost typecast as a criminal early in his film career: the necessity to express villainous characters in an overtly physical manner led to the cultivation of his "big" acting style, which hearkened back to his classical theatre training and would become his trademark. Oldman has conceded that his approach involves an element of overacting, saying: "[I]t's my influence on those roles that probably they feel bigger than life and a little over-the-top. I mean, I do go for it a bit as an actor, I must admit."
Oscar and Tony Award-winning actor Al Pacino, when asked if he overacts, said: "Well, all actors do, in a way. You know what they say: in the theater you have to reach the balcony." Pacino suggested that directors serve to rein in screen performances that are too large.
In an article on overacting, Independent critic Leigh Singer wrote: "Unlike theatre's declamatory projecting to the back row, a 'stagey' performance onscreen isn't a compliment... ultimately, it really is a matter of personal taste." Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly argued that "there's a thin line between overacting (bad) and acting that you're overacting (bizarrely genius)"; the publication at one time gave year-end awards for "best" and "worst" overacting in film, with the aforementioned Oldman and Pacino winning the former for their work in Léon: The Professional (1994) and The Devil's Advocate (1997), respectively. Guardian journalist Chris Michael, a proponent of overacting, said: "From Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith to Heath Ledger's Joker to the entire oeuvre of William Shatner, mannered or stylised acting is an underrated skill."
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