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Film

From Nicolas Cage to Tom Cruise: The top 10 most peculiar actors of all time

@Russellisation

Given the entirely bizarre nature of Hollywood itself, where actors pretend to be a variation of different characters in an elaborate set, it’s fascinating that the whole of the industry isn’t made up of oddballs, maniacs and peculiar personalities. Instead, acting is seen as a noble profession, even one where one must train for years to fully comprehend and be able to properly perform.

Whilst this may be the case for such thespians as Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Day-Lewis, there are hundreds of other actors who worked their way into the industry through different means, leading to an eclectic range of personalities on the Hollywood circuit. Such actors traverse the industry as if in an exploratory jungle gym, squeezing into strange, unsuitable roles before swinging into the next opportunity before their agent has time to tell them it’s a bad idea. 

This has led to some of the finest cult classics to be brought to the delights of baying cinephiles, including Nicolas Cage’s performance in Vampire’s Kiss, Marlon Brando’s appearance in The Island of Dr. Moreau and Tommy Wiseau’s magical car crash The Room

The top 10 most peculiar actors of all time:

Marlon Brando

Starring in some of the finest films of all time including The Godfather, Apocalypse Now and On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando was an extraordinary acting talent with a wild list of personal eccentricities. 

The father to over sixteen children, Brando is known to have partaken in several bizarre incidents in his lifetime, none more peculiar than buying his own private island for fun. In addition, Brando also wished for his character in Superman to appear as a giant green bagel and often found himself in bizarre situations such as when he, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor escaped New York on 9/11 and drove to Ohio. 

Gary Busey

If you want to know how eccentric the influential actor Gary Busey truly is, simply visit his strange Twitter account and the evidence is plain and obvious to watch, read and witness. 

Popular in the ‘90s and early 2000s, there is no end to the peculiar stories of the actor who appeared in such films as Point Break, Lethal Weapon and Lost Highway. Frequently telling interviewers how much he loved snorting coke off his dog, Busey has also designed his own sex toy, delivered several motivational speeches and once even sprayed a reporter with a hose. God bless Busey.

Nicolas Cage

Perhaps the most famous Hollywood peculiarity, Nicolas Cage seemingly enjoys appearing in mainstream schlock only to occasionally surprise audiences with a remarkable performance in the likes of Mandy, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or Pig.

Making strange career choices are merely one aspect of Cage’s increasingly bizarre life that includes trading rare dinosaur skills in his spare time and even preparing a pyramid for his body to lie in after his death. Such stories join the actor’s simple eccentric style, with his movie persona and real-life identity fusing together to the extent that it’s truly difficult to separate the two.

Tom Cruise

Remember when Tom Cruise appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and proceeded to behave like a crazed child when announcing his love for his former girlfriend, Katie Holmes? We do. It was extraordinary.

Whilst there are limited stories that prove Cruise’s peculiar life, it is the actor’s consistently quirky and bizarre personality that earns his place on this list. Who could forget his infamous advocacy of Scientology in the leaked video in which he rambles on about what sounds like utter nonsense. “We are the authorities on the mind” Cruise utters at one point. Who are we to say otherwise?

Faye Dunaway

An iconic actor of the 1960s and ‘70s, Faye Dunaway was the star of such influential films as Bonnie and Clyde, Mommie Dearest and Chinatown from director Roman Polanski. 

Notoriously difficult to manage in the media, Dunaway often likes to keep a tight hold over what she can and can’t be asked in interviews. After her biographer asked her too many questions about the film Mommie Dearest, for example, she replied with a furious voicemail that clearly stated her disapproval. In addition, she also famously threw a cup of urine in the face of Chinatown director Roman Polanski after he bossed her around too much on the set of the film. 

Andy Kaufman

Though Kaufman was undoubtedly better-known for his career as an avant-garde stand-up comedian, he also starred in a handful of feature films including God Told Me To, Heatbeeps and My Breakfast with Blassie.

His list of bizarre stories is simply too extensive to ignore, ranging from personal eccentricities to public displays of odd behaviour. The pinnacle of such stories may be the moment he took an entire audience of people out for milk and cookies after one of his shows in 1979, and if that wasn’t enough he also invited them to meet him on the Staten Island Ferry the following morning. 

Klaus Kinski 

Working closely with filmmaker Werner Herzog throughout his celebrated career, the German actor Klaus Kinski was known for his peculiar eccentricities and bizarre approach to the acting profession. 

Inventing his own way of entering a film set, known as the ‘Kinski spiral’, the actor and Herzog entered a complicated working relationship that mostly involved constant bickering and, at one point, Kinski constantly trashing the director’s mum’s apartment. In addition to this, Kinski was also an oddball in his private life, throwing potatoes and cutlery at a film critic who called his performance “outstanding and extraordinary”. According to the actor, “I was not excellent! I was not extraordinary! I was monumental!”. 

Tilda Swinton

The star of We Need to Talk About Kevin, Okja and Only Lovers Left Alive, Tilda Swinton, is likely the finest female actor currently working in Hollywood, though this hasn’t stopped her from developing a truly peculiar personality. 

It’s the general eccentricity of this influential British actor that makes her such an endearing enigma in the contemporary industry, with Swinton often bringing her own quirky edge to every role she takes on. She’s also been known to take part in several strange projects, such as when she took part in an art stunt at MoMA in 2013 that saw the actor shut herself in a giant glass box seven times.

Orson Welles

Widely known as one of the most eccentric filmmakers and actors of all time, Orson Welles may have brought Citizen Kane, one of the finest films of all time, to the big screen but he was also remembered for his several career oddities. 

Fascinated by magic during WWII, Orson Welles toured US military facilities with his own performing magic troupe including Welles alongside Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich. In addition to this, when Welles was in front of the movie cameras he demanded the makeup team make his nose look bigger, collecting several fake noses over the course of his career which he kept, named and stored in his Hollywood home. 

Tommy Wiseau

Though Tommy Wiseau is only known for one feature film, in particular, his impact on the world of cult cinema was so significant that his personality has become the focus of underground film fans across the world.

It was his 2003 film The Room that would earn the filmmaker such recognition, allegedly financing the cult classic by selling leather jackets, though it is thought the budget could have been made up through money laundering. A truly fascinating figure, the origins of Wiseau aren’t truly known and he refuses to reveal the source of his income, though when he does reveal his thoughts about his life and iconic film they are usually quite obscure. Case in point, the time when Wiseau stated The Room lowered America’s crime rate.