Best Supporting Actor 1915
A character is defined as “a person in a narrative work” which when portrayed in theater or cinema “involves the illusion of being a human person.” Actors play characters of all types, but sometimes there is a great opportunity to give an illusion that reaches an audience, even from the secondary position of a supporting character. Male actors have a wide range of possibilities, from sidekicks to villains, fathers to sons, and nearly all possible professions, to create that human illusion and help to bring a story to life.
This year, quite a number of our candidates for Best Supporting Actor had the signature pleasure of portraying a villain. Wilton Lackaye brought his stage characterization of Svengali in “Trilby” to the screen to general acclaim. Roy Daugherty also played a familiar role in “Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw” – he portrayed the Western outlaw he had been in real life before director-star Marshall Bill Tilghman caught up with him. In the role of Skinny, William Sheer goes from henchman to bitter enemy of the protagonist of “Regeneration” and gives a powerfully frightening performance that will influence crime movies for decades. And Sessue Hayakawa presents a genuinely terrifying vision of greed, lust, and arrogance combined for his memorable role in “The Cheat.” Our one non-villain, Marcel Levésque as Mazamette in the “Les Vampires” serial, still hobnobs with a criminal gang, even if it is only to help out the brave but bland reporter Guérande.
The nominees for best actor in a supporting role are…
- Wilton Lackaye for “Trilby”
- Marcel Levésque for “The Deadly Ring”
- William Sheer for “Regeneration”
- Roy Daugherty for “Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw”
- Sessue Hayakawa for “The Cheat”
And the Century Award goes to…Sessue Hayakawa!
There were some really great villains in the movies I watched in 2015, but none made the same impression as Hayakawa in “The Cheat.” When he believes he has Fanny Ward in his power, his assurance and cold desire for her is chilling, while when he finds that she intends to “cheat” him, his rage comes through the screen in waves of intimidation and frustrated power. At every moment of the movie, he is constantly in character and believable, even when his emotions are at a high pitch that would lead many into overacting. This was the only possible choice for best supporting actor in the end, much as I did enjoy all of those nominated.