I do not yell much myself. I figure there are plenty of loud people in the world already. Also, I like to think that I can control my crazier, rant-inclined self. (Whether or not I actually do is debatable. But I do not yell. At least not often.)
Happily for all of us, Hollywood is filled with guys just itching to yell angrily. The cuss words, the spit flying from their mouths; the angrier they get, the more awards they receive.
And so, for you entertainment:
Angry Men and the Audiences that Love Them
The classic example is Jack Nicholson. I have come to equate the word “truth” with someone spouting off that famous line. He essentially sits there the entire time. No weapons, no actual threats; he sits and yells. However, it is still a cemented standard of how to be scary.
Also, we see Tom Cruise trying to be angry. He tries, sure. His face does a little wobbling with anger. But we are looking for those that inspire fear. Tom Cruise does not. You can see it again in Mission Impossible III: Ghost Protocol. He has the guy hostage. He is yelling over plane noise. And yet, no fear is instilled.
Now granted, that is largely due to the fact that Philip Seymour Hoffman does a great job with his character. Hoffman has everything under control, so Cruise’s attempt to be scary is only diminished by the bad guy’s calm. The same can be said of Christian Bale in The Dark Knight.
Does Bale yell? Sure. He even gets a little auditory assistance to make his voice sound more menacing (supposedly). But he is up against Heath Ledger in his legendary role. The Joker is in control. That is what makes the villain so effective; even when captive they are the ones pushing the buttons. Bale yells, he throws, but he never scares anyone to even close the degree that Ledger does.
I like Idris Elba. But he does not scare me. In this rebooted version of Pullman’s speech, he is trying to get all his men as angry as he is. “Cancelling the apocalypse”, and all that. It does nothing for me. ID4 did it better and first. He stands there in his wacky suit yelling. If his rage gets you to go chop up and wrestle some sea monsters, I am happy for you.
Anthony Hopkins on the other hand, is always fun to watch. Sure he did creepy in Silence of the Lambs, but he can also yell too. He yelled at Banderas in Mask of Zorro. And for a Shakespearian dose, you can see him yell at Thor in Thor. Who else has the vocal presence to banish a god from their realm? Sure, the special effects help, but Hopkins… ahh. He is always pretty great. That angry man frightens me plenty.
Now, if you are going to talk about special effects augmenting an angry speech, then you have to bring up Gandalf. Commanding presence. Yes, I think the sound and light effects take a little too much of the burden and imposing nature from McKellen. However, if you simply had him standing in an empty room, just his stick in his hands and his weathered voice, I think Balrog would still think twice if confronted with, “You shall not…. pass!”
Going up against Balrog with its whip? Then you might suffer from Whiplash. (Ba-dump. That’s right. First I made a bad pun. The I set up a talk about drumming with a rim-shot. I’ll stop now.) Ah, J.K. Simmons. J. Jonah Jameson himself. My one complaint is that they felt he had to throw a chair to scare folks. He has the tight t-shirt showing off his muscles. He has the bald head. He swears and insults plenty. I think that combination allows him to be scary. Throwing the chair only makes him crazy. If you really scare someone with your anger, you do not have to threaten them with physical danger. (Sometimes it is implied. Sometimes their plans are scarier without actual violence. Giving into throwing chairs seems too easy. Scare us with your restraint, darn it.)
Or you could go the Alec Baldwin route and cut loose. Swear angrily. Insult and then swear. Swear some more. Make them feel bad about themselves with excessive swearing. Swearing all over the place. Oh David Mamet. Oh Alec Baldwin. Nothing but angry swears here, kids.
My personal favorite angry character? Michael Clayton. That is the movie I watch when I want to see someone act the crap out of a scene. When I want to hear solid dialog and see excellent actors go at it with each other, I put in this DVD. And should I have a hankering for a man yelling, I go to George Clooney “discussing” bargaining. He does not have to try to intimidate her. He does not have to threaten physical violence to cuss her out (maybe a little). He finds his target and lays into her. “Do I look like I’m negotiating!” Chills every time.
And as one quick little bonus:
By and large I focused on males in movies. However, I cannot write about males yelling without referencing Phil Hartman and NewsRadio. Dang I miss him. And that man knew how to yell, especially at Matthew, and you still liked him. Go figure.