Nick Stahl and the art of acting

May 27, 2004

What is an artist? If you look up the word “artist” in the dictionary it says, “One, such as a painter, actor or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.”

I believe the word “artist” gets thrown around too freely these days. I hear people call Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera “artists,” and that is an insult to the word.

People who create art in general seem to have lost sight of the importance of making films that have substance – just look at the films that are coming out these days. Eighty percent of the films coming out of Hollywood are either crap or should never have been made at all; the remake of “Psycho” comes to mind. But it’s the other 20 percent that makes going to the movies worthwhile.

The actor Nick Stahl is very deserving of the title “artist” because his performances have value, imagination and skill: the three key words of that definition. He has demonstrated from a very early age that he is an actor with longevity and someone who takes his work seriously.

I became a Nick Stahl fan after I saw the film “Bully,” which I feel is one of the best films of 2001. It was hailed by many critics as a masterpiece, including critic Roger Ebert. Although the entire ensemble cast was excellent in their respective roles, it was Stahl who really caught my attention.

Stahl did something in that film that very few actors can pull off: making the audience hate him and feel sorry for him at the same time. Although his character commits some ruthless acts, I felt extremely saddened not only for him but for the other characters as well. This is the first film I have seen that actually gave me some insight into why school shootings happen in this country. The film was brilliantly directed and acted, and Stahl blew me away.

Another Stahl film worth mentioning is the little-known “Eye of God.” In this movie, Stahl plays a young country boy who witnesses a murder. What makes his performance so great is that he hardly says a word but conveys what his character is feeling through his behavior. Again, very few actors can pull off a role with little dialogue, but Stahl does it brilliantly. His best scenes are the ones in which he does not say a word.

The thing that I like the most about Nick Stahl is that he is always consistent; I’ve never seen a bad performance. Even in the one or two bad films he’s in, he’s still impressive. Stahl, 24, reminds me of a young Ralph Fiennes or Edward Norton, and he’s definitely the best actor in his age range. When so many actors his age these days are doing blockbuster fluff, it’s nice to see an actor who likes to challenge himself.

Stahl’s latest film, “Twist,” is about a group of male prostitutes in the mean streets of Toronto. I can’t wait to see the film, and I have talked to a few people who have seen it and said it is Stahl’s best performance yet.

Nick Stahl is an actor to watch in the next few years because with his talent, I believe he’s going take the acting world by storm. And he should because this is one artist that mainstream America is missing out on.

Related link: Nick Stahl's filmography @ IMDb