Wednesday, August 30, 2006
For years, this man was just a bad impersonation to me. The only thing I associated the name James Cagney with were hammy comedians going "You dirty rat. You killed my brother." all the time. I knew he was an actor and a legend and all that but his name never really did much for me.
But, then I purchased a Warner Bros. gangsters DVD box set, many of which star Cagney. Now I know why this man became a legend and pretty much set the standard for gangster films ever since. Wow! That man could act. His level of intensity that he brought to each one of his performances is nothing short of breath-taking. He practically leaps off the screen and slugs you one right in the kisser, he's so dynamic. And yet, he quite often manages to pull off another neat trick at the same time. You're always rooting for him. Even when he plays the most despicable, the most sleazy, or even the most downright evil character ever, you still want him to win in the end and even feel a bit sad when his gangster character is gunned down after years of corruption.
Live action actors and definitely animators can learn alot from studying this man and his work. If you can capture even 1/5th of his intensity, you're doing great. My first attempt at drawing him and his various emotions is below. Some of the pictures are better than others of course, but I think I'm on my way to learning what makes him tick and how to apply that to my other work.
Tell me what you think either about these drawings or about Cagney himself.