Chris O’Dowd’s Terrible Acting – He’s A Bad Actor
I just wrote some observations the other day in another blog post of O’Dowd’s appearance in the 2016 movie “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”
In the midst of doing a web search to find reviews and information on that movie, I also came across other people’s reviews of O’Dowd’s work – not just in regards to that one film, but to his other work.
The consensus from most people is that O’Dowd – his acting – was acceptable in the British television situation comedy “The IT Crowd,” and most everyone loved him in the 2011 movie Bridesmaids.
But every so often, here or there, I am seeing people remark that his acting in other roles is terrible or unconvincing.
I skimmed O’Dowd’s IMDB page the other day, which shows what, if any, roles he’s filmed lately, and it’s quite skimpy.
This is not an actor who gets a lot of movie offers. And that’s probably because he’s not a very good actor.
By the way, some of O’Dowd’s movies have gone straight to Netflix (remember in the 1990s, when bad movies would skip the movie theaters and go straight to the bargain video bin in your nearest store)? Here’s a related link on this blog:
I’ve even seen a few people say they don’t even care for O’Dowd’s acting job in “The IT Crowd” program. (I will cite examples of this farther below.)
As for my views: I’ve not seen every single show or movie the man has been in, but I’ve seen a lot of O’Dowd’s movies on cable television, and a few clips from “The IT Crowd” on You Tube. (I’ve also seen clips from movies such as “Cuban Fury,” but not the entire movie itself.)
One Trick Pony
That is to say, I’ve seen enough of O’Dowd’s acting to come to the informed conclusion that he’s a one-trick pony as far as acting is concerned.
O’Dowd showed with the role of the nice cop Nathan Rhodes in “Bridesmaids” that he can pretty much play a sweet, amusing, guy pretty convincingly; however, I think that’s about the extent of his abilities.
Though I will say that there were a few instances in even that movie where I saw some flaws with O’Dowd’s performance as Rhodes, and this was even before I began to dislike the guy.
I was willing at the time to overlook or dismiss those acting flaws at the time because I didn’t realize at that point what a smug, kind of smarmy, hypocritical weasel O’Dowd is in his real life, and the character himself was so very sweet and friendly.
The flaws that stood out to me: the scene in “Bridesmaids” where O’Dowd is sitting on the hood of the state trooper car talking to Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) outside the liquor store, there were a few moments in that scene where his line delivery, body language, and/or facial expressions were such I could tell he was acting.
A few times in that “liquor store” scene, I could tell that O’Dowd was merely regurgitating lines he had read and memorized in a script.
In a clip I watched of O’Dowd on You Tube from the situation comedy, “The IT Crowd,” it showed him employed as Roy, an informational technology employee, sitting at his desk.
From what I’ve read of this show, the Roy character is annoyed by people, he’s a grumpy guy, and doesn’t like assisting co-workers who call him to fix their computer problems.
So, in this one scene I watched from this show on You Tube, he’s seated at his work desk, where his work phone rings. He stares – or glares – at the phone while sighing heavily several times. As if to say, he does not want to answer that phone, because he knows it’s going to be some idiot corporate drone asking him for his computer expertise.
My problem with this scene is that I can, again, tell that he is acting. And that is a no-no.
The stares at the phone, the put-on despair or disgust while staring at the ringing phone – I can tell that prior to the filming of the scene, O’Dowd was handed a show script that said something like,
“When Roy’s office phone rings, stare at it, pretend to act annoyed, and disapprovingly sigh loudly a few times to register resignation and irritation.”
O’Dowd has said in an interview or two that he took acting classes while in London, at some college there. He either needs to get a refund from them – because they clearly did not teach him to act in a television show or movie properly – or he needs to enroll his ass into some more acting classes now that he’s living in the Los Angeles area.
I Can Sometimes Tell He is Acting
And all that I discuss above is a very big problem. An audience member should not be able to watch an actor in a scene and think, “he’s acting,” or, “he’s acting sad now, he’s crying, or he’s yelling, or ranting ,or sighing because a script told him to do so when the phone rings, or the girlfriend tells him they’re over, or whatever.”
I shouldn’t be able to see the mechanizations of the acting, but with O’Dowd, I do.
I never see that sort of thing, for instance, with an actor such as Tom Hanks, who actually knows how to act.
Hanks comes across as very natural in front of the camera, and I never see the wheels inside his head spinning as he’s trying to recall his next line or to remember to stand where his mark is.
There are some actors who make a career out of playing themselves in every show or movie, or playing the same character over and over – Melissa McCarthy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Adam Sandler are some examples that quickly come to mind.
In my view, though, a true actor, a talented and skilled actor, can and should be able to portray many different types of people and personalities.
If O’Dowd is good at playing sweet, lovable characters such as the Nice Guy Cop from Bridesmaids – and I think he mostly did fine in that role – he should stick to that. Stop it with trying to play jerks or bad guys.
O’Dowd’s Bad American Accent is a Detriment to Any Film or Show He Is In
As I’ve noted in previous posts, such as this one and this one (so I won’t go into detail in this post), O’Dowd, who has an Irish accent in real life, cannot perform a consistent or convincing American accent in roles where he’s been cast to play an American, such as the character “John Thomas” in the HBO program “Girls” or as the father, “Frank,” in the movie “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”
In movies where O’Dowd is supposed to play an American, I get pulled out of the scenes because his off-kilter, poor mimicry of an American accent is very distracting. As a viewer, I don’t appreciate that.
If You Enjoy It But Aren’t Good At It, Consider A Career Change
My guess is that O’Dowd really enjoys acting – he mentioned in some interview seeing a famous movie actress cheered and applauded in a parade in his hometown when he was a kid, and that prompted him to get into acting later in life.
I remember “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell saying in an article years ago that many people audition for him on that singing show, because their dream is to become singers.
However, Cowell said, many of them lack the talent or charisma, so he gets real with them and tells them to stop pursing something they are clearly not gifted for, and to instead pursue something they are talented at.
Just because you are passionate about something and would like to do it, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re any good at it and should do it for a living.
I am normally a big believer in people chasing their dreams (see the many posts on this blog with inspirational self help content I’ve published), but I’m also a realist.
Because O’Dowd doesn’t have a wide range in front of the camera, and he’s willing to play outside his strength (of playing likable, lovable, average, nice guys), because his American accent is poor when playing Americans, and he’s not convincing when playing bad guys or jerks, and because he loves the movie business, perhaps he should consider a career path that is behind the camera.
Maybe O’Dowd should consider becoming a script writer, a movie producer, a casting agent, a set designer, or something of that nature – whatever the hell people in Hollywood do in behind- the- scenes careers.
Edit. I just found this 2011 interview:
From Geek to Hottie in One Hit – The Australian, July 2011, by Hillary Rose
He [O’Dowd] sees his future as more behind the camera than in front of it.
“Maybe I’ll do one acting job a year, then the rest of the time I’ll be producing and writing. I enjoy acting, but I don’t like being fussed with, people messing with your face and your hair. I never thought that appearance would be as big a part of my life as it seems to be at the moment.”/
Yes, he needs to stick with that thinking and actually make that a reality, because outside of a very narrow range of playing the sweet, likable guy (and as of late, he is choosing to play jerks), he’s not got much acting ability.
Links – What Others Say
I’m not the only one who has noticed these issues.
Plenty of others have noted that O’Dowd’s American accent is terrible, and that he is only gifted or fun to watch in roles in which he plays a sweet, lovable, amusing, friendly person and does poorly when playing outside that type.
Some of what you see below may be material from previous posts I’ve done, but I will try to mainly include previously unpublished (for this blog) material.
Some of the content below is from professional movie critics, while other comments come from everyday, regular people.
Apparently, O’Dowd was in a stage play with James Franco of “Of Mice and Men” sometime around 2014. He actually got nominated for an award for that performance but lost to another actor.
Chris O’Dowd lost out to Bryan Cranston at Sunday night’s Tony Awards in New York, with theBreaking Bad star taking home the Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play award.
O’Dowd was nominated for his role in Of Mice and Men, while the victorious Cranston stars in All The Way.
Comment by Carlos Bandanas, Sept 10, 2017
I like Chris. Seems like a nice lad. But he appears to have the acting range of a mahogany wardrobe. The chancer. Fair play to him.
Comment by Martin Flood, Sept 10, 2017
He’s [O’Dowd is] a terrible actor, completely out of his league when acting with the big guns. His part in The IT Crowd suited him perfectly. He should have stuck to similar roles.
From the Cook’d and Bomb’d forum:
[comment by] Clownbaby – July 7, 2018
There’s another one. Katherine Parkinson. Of all the people they could have picked for The IT Crowd, why was she picked? Why? Then again just about everything about that show doesn’t quite work
Reply to that remark:
[comment by] Rolf Lundgren – July 8, 2018
I feel the same about Chris O’Dowd. I re-watched The IT Crowd recently and really disliked his performance. Is he supposed to be the everyman character? A nerd like Moss? The wisecracking one? The dopey one? You can partly blame the writing but I don’t think he ever had a handle on the character.
[comment by] never again – July 8, 2018
Agree about O’Dowd there. Also seen him be very good elsewhere.
Katherine Parkinson too – her Inside No 9 part is enough to convince me of her acting abilities (Humans too) but she seems to be going from strength to strength.
[comment by] clownbaby – July 15, 2018 [reply to Rolf Lundgren]
I don’t think anyone really had a handle on their characters, even ma boy Chris Morris, cause the whole show is a bit half-arsed. I find Chris O’Dowd a bit hard to read in everything he’s in, he’s like a weird hybrid of smug, cuddly and sarcastic. I don’t know how to feel about him.
[comment by] paruses – July 16, 2018 [reply to clownbaby]
I saw him [Chris O’Dowd] on Graeme Norton the other night. Not sure how recent is was as I was channel hopping and don’t watch it anyway.
He was on With Amy Whatsit and Jeremy Thingy from Arrivals so is likely a year old or so.
He seemed affable enough and Jeremy seemed to genuinely find him hilarious while Amy had a more dead-eyed celeb laughter look.
When they cut to the clip of the Christopher Guest film he’s in (Mascots) I was baffled by his [O’Dowd’s] performance – the accent was all over the place for a start and then he did this weird face at the end of his vox-pops which seemed unlike any Guest film I’ve seen. It is on Netflix so I might have a watch this evening.
–(end comments by paruses)–
(At least one person in that thread (named “suky”) said they were “initially put off” by O’Dowd in the television show “Get Shorty” but later came to enjoy him on that show. But as you can see, most people there are not won over by O’Dowd or his acting.)
From a review of the Netflix movie The Cloverfield Paradox, in which O’Dowd had a role (source: The Shetland Film Blog):
…Chris O’Dowd’s character Mundy (I just want to interject at this point to say that I usually love Chris O’Dowd) was so clearly shoehorned into the film as a comic relief that I genuinely cringed whenever he opened his mouth.
O’Dowd was completely at odds with the tone that the rest of the film was trying to set, which jarred almost immediately.
He also seemed to be on the space station with the specific role of using a metal glue gun to close up any openings, which he seemed to have to do alarmingly often.
I hated Chris O’Dowd’s acting (Mundy)
Posted byu/davidraspberry – 2018
His [Chris O’Dowd’s] acting [in the Cloverfield Paradox movie] made me physically cringe.
Every facial expression he made was wrong, every word that came out of his mouth was in the wrong tone and he used the wrong volume, it was extremely awkward and it made me feel uncomfortable.
No kidding when he died I said out loud “thank God!” LMAO.
I thought the standout performance goes to David Oyelowo who played Kiel. He’s a great actor.
O’Dowd in Love After Love
The performances could hardly be better — with the exception of O’Dowd, who’s good but maybe needed to find just one redeeming moment. (The writers could have helped.)
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – O’Dowd’s Performance Reviewed
Miss Peregrine’s For Peculiar Children Review by Matt Donato
We’re introduced to Butterfield’s character through emotionless interactions between Jake and his father Franklin, an elder who is painfully played by an American-accented Chris O’Dowd (to a distressingly unnatural degree).
Surprisingly though, the stinker of the film award has to go to Chris O’Dowd – the usually brilliant star of The IT Crowd and Bridesmaids – as Jake’s dad.
Ditching his memorable Irish accent for a dire Fauxmerican effort, he’s such a let-down in a film that’s almost entirely well cast.
Thankfully this is made up for with Samuel L Jackson, who appears in the film’s second half.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Box Office Review- from MaskerPiece Theater
… The characters in this story all felt mostly natural, assuming they had the “gifts” they possessed in the film.
The only stand out character was “Franklin” the father of Jake, played by Chris O’Dowd. His character didn’t feel natural at all and the American accent he attempted to have was poorly delivered.
Considering most of the movie takes place outside of America, I would’ve been fine with his character having a British accent.
If he, perhaps, didn’t have to focus on sounding American, he might’ve been able to portray a worried but not overly concerned father who’s into photographing birds.
The only bump, as far as casting goes, is Chris O’Dowd as Jake’s father, Franklin. The decision to have O’Dowd adopt an American accent is a mistake and his performance feels as though he is fighting against his Irish brogue in every scene in which he appears.
Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – from Feeling Fuzzier
…. O’Dowd is utterly miscast too and his American accent leaves a lot to be desired.
IMDB User Reviews:
Amazed at how bad this
(comment by) isgornasa
13 December 2016
…Everything just falls flat, is lifeless and stiff. It was a torture to watch from the very beginning.
It had no atmosphere, the acting was terrible, even from Chris O’Dowd. Only Eva Green was relatively good but the script was so bad that even she didn’t have much to work with.
The story evolves around Jake, a fumbling and bumbling teenager with only semi-attentive parents, played by a fairly one-note Chris O’Dowd …
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review from Letter Boxd
Irish Chris O’Dowd doesn’t make a very convincing American, while English Asa Butterfield is better, but really isn’t a very engaging lead – he’s pretty anaemic of face and personality.
O’Dowd in “Frankie Go Boom”
Via New York Daily News:
by Elizabeth Weitzman, October 2012
It’s especially disappointing to see O’Dowd — already hugely popular in the U.K. — so poorly used. His charming supporting performance in “Bridesmaids” set him on the right track over here, but he’ll have to choose projects more wisely if he does not want his promising movie career to implode.
–(( end excerpt ))–
Via Blue-Ray site:
by Brian Orndorf, October 2012
Bruce’s [played by Chris O’Dowd] insincerity (and O’Dowd’s brutal American accent) is more disturbing than humorous, infusing the picture with an unintentional grip of mental illness that comes to paralyze the helmer’s storytelling judgment.
–(( end excerpt ))–
O’Dowd in Cuban Fury
Via Reeling Reviews:
… O’Dowd’s funny goes missing when cast as a bad guy.
“Cuban Fury” is like a new sitcom with a great cast that’s so badly conceived and executed it’s yanked after two episodes. Only the genuine sweetness between Frost and Jones and McShane’s wacky casting make this film remotely bearable.
In fact, the office scenes drag on a bit and don’t have nearly the punch as the dance-club ones. And O’Dowd (so amusing in things like Bridesmaids and HBO’s Girls) is a tad irksome.
Via A V Club:
Most of the ostensible comedy, meanwhile, is predicated on the sight of a big fat guy trying to be physically graceful—though that’s still preferable to O’Dowd’s unmodulated asshole routine, or to the sorry presence of another dancer (Kayvan Novak) inhabiting every gay stereotype in the book.
Via One Guy’s Opinion:
But a more serious drawback is the excessive reliance on O’Dowd’s Drew, a singularly unfunny and frequently repugnant fellow who’s more creepy than funny.
The comedic dance-off between them, which is meant to be the movie’s comic highlight, comes off as more peculiar than amusing, especially since despite the obvious physical effort, Frost never convinces as a master dancer.
The Positive Review(s)
(edit.) I was reading a review of a movie O’Dowd was in, a movie called Love After Love (released in 2018), and here is how this reviewer ends things:
In the key roles, O’Dowd again proves himself an actor of significant range and sensitivity, while MacDowell swings between warmth and brittleness, with never a false note.
Really? O’Dowd had “significant range and sensitivity” in this film? Excuse me while I feel skeptical.
I’ve seen too many of his performances by this point in time to believe he’s great in this one.
Even if O’Dowd is wonderful in this movie, it would only go to show that his output is highly inconsistent. Aside from most of the nice cop performance in “Bridesmaids,” all the other roles I’ve seen him in thus far, he’s been very “meh” to pretty bad.
Do movie studios, casting agents, and movie directors want to take risks on an actor like O’Dowd whose quality is not assured in each and every movie?
If I see additional critiques of O’Dowd’s subpar acting, I would like to edit this post to add them.