A Few of Cody Crump’s Favorite Movie Stars

There are “galaxies upon galaxies” of actors to be appreciated. Here are five of them.

I like movies. I also like movie stars. From the moment I was born into this weird world, I have sought refuge in the world of cinema. Not that I have any tangible memories of it, but being born in 1989, my mushy little brain must have been moulded like playdough while watching Look Who’s Talking and Batman. I recently released a song about some of my favorite movie stars, called “Movie Stars” — it may surprise you that some of the actors on this list are not in my smash-hit song at all, and that is OK. You see, there is a buttload of really good actors out there, some I like and some not so much.

When I began thinking about who to include on this very short list, many names crossed my mind. I feel confident in my choices though, as each actor brings very different things to the table.

1. Joe Pesci

An undisputed national treasure, Joe Pesci has given us numerous memorable performances throughout his career. Though some detractors may say Pesci essentially plays himself, I would have to disagree. He has incredible range — shifting from menacing and brash, to funny and vulnerable. He has given life to many characters: Tommy Devito, Vinny Gambini, and of course Harry from Home Alone and Home Alone 2. If these characters were played by a different actor, they likely would have been much more one-dimensional. His greatest achievement, in my mind, is forcing me to ask myself: How can I feel such sympathy for such an asshole?

2. Bill Paxton

Of all the actors on my list, this is probably the most surprising. But it shouldn’t be — Bill Paxton always brings something funky to a film. Upon the first watch of pretty much any Paxton performance, you could say he has a tendency to overact. But underneath the surface are much more nuanced performances. His delivery sometimes seems comedic, but the risks the Pax-Man takes give the audience some of the more memorable lines from some of the biggest films of all time. Whether it’s: Titanic, Aliens, or my personal favorite, Twister. Why should I care so much about a storm-chaser-turned-weatherman who is clearly still in love with his ex-wife? Because Bill brings the goods, conveying deep emotional torment balanced with many moments of comedic relief — potentially unintentional, but funny all the same. If anyone should attempt to challenge his inclusion on this list, I only have one thing to say: “Game over man. Game over.”

3. Willem Dafoe

How this man has not won an Oscar yet is beyond my comprehension. Clearly one of the most gifted actors of his generation, Willem Dafoe is a true chameleon. In every film he is in, I always believe his characters are real. I forget about Willem as an actor and only think about whoever this character is onscreen. While watching The Lighthouse and seeing Robert Pattinson opposite Willem, I couldn’t help but feel like I was seeing LeBron James play one-on-one against Jared Dudley (we know how that would end). Take nothing away from R-Patz, but he and Willem are in different leagues.

4. Samuel L. Jackson

I feel like I don’t even need to say much about Sam. If you remove him from our cultural lexicon there would be a hole the size of the sun. So comfortable and at ease on camera, you could probably have no script and he would find a way to keep you engaged in the film. From small bit parts like Stacks in Goodfellas to the main villain in Jackie Brown, every time Samuel L. appears in a film is like waking up to presents from Santa Claus, even though it is not Christmas. Like the next actor on this list, Samuel L. was born to be on camera.

5. John Travolta

A gift from god to all who love film, Travolta deserves our respect. He is the real deal — the textbook definition of a Movie Star. I’d argue that no actor ever has had more natural charisma or all-around talent. He has danced, sung, and acted his way into our hearts. He has had multiple career rebirths, proving his ability to shift his skillset and adapt to the times. Just to name a few of the landmark films T-Volt has given us: Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Pulp Fiction, fucking Face/Off! And, of course, Wild Hogs. A career sometimes overshadowed by his personal life, I find this only adds more layers to the John Travolta cake. If any of you out there question his ability to stage another comeback, I would offer this advice: Never bet against Johnny T.

That is my list. I must say, it was not easy only picking five stars when there are galaxies upon galaxies of them to be appreciated. I wanted to give just a few Honorable Mentions to Rick Moranis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, and the criminally underrated Brendan Fraser (The Mummy and Encino Man are personal favorites). We are extremely lucky to be able to enjoy the performances of all of these actors whether we realize it or not. I know some of you may disagree with my choices, and that we may simply have different tastes, but I will say this in closing: The collective cultural footprint made by these actors on this very short list is something Godzilla and King Kong would both be very proud of. Long live cinema and long live Movie Stars!

A self-taught musician, Cody Crump was born in Colorado. He was kicked out of his school band and choir for making bad jokes, and impeached as his junior class president for getting arrested. Crump chose music as his path after a Metallica concert at age 16. A man of many contradictions, each release sounds completely different from his last. After living in Denver for three years Crump moved to Los Angeles continuing to hone his craft while playing at venues such as: Soho House, The Standard, The Roxy, and The Chateau Marmont. The film world began to take notice using his music in shows including: The Leftovers (HBO), The Righteous Gemstones (HBO), and How to Get Away With Murder (ABC). Crump currently has several albums of new material, and can’t wait to release them into the world.

(Photo Credit: Anne Dereaux)