Terrence Stamp in Superman 2 (1980)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Amid the high-camp of the early Superman movies, Terrence Stamp is forced to go above and beyond the constraints of traditional acting to make his presence felt. Witness his bizarre meltdown when Supes crushes his hand for further details…
Why We Love It: As grandstanding, imperious villains go, Zod takes some beating.
Keanu Reeves in The Gift (2000)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Reeves plays a wife-beating redneck with admirable gusto and a deeply hokey Southern accent. Sam Raimi loves to let his performers run wild…
Why We Love It: “Messin' with the devil's gawn git you buuuurned!” purrs Reeves, in an instantly quotable encounter with Cate Blanchett.
Jon Voight in Anaconda (1997)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Voight does his level best to steal the show with an array of remarkable facial expressions. See above.
Why We Love It: Some of his gurning really is quite out there. What’s he aiming for here, we wonder?
Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs Of New York (2002)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: An Oscar-nommed turn it might be, but there’s more than a whiff of ham about the way Day-Lewis chomps his way through his dialogue, squinting, snarling and twiddling his moustache as he does so.
Why We Love It: It’s tremendous fun, and more than a little unnerving.
Raul Julia in Street Fighter (1994)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: It’s a videogame adaptation, so we can expect the performance to be broad, but still… this is pretty epic stuff from Raul Julia!
Why We Love It: Because he gets to shout lines like the following: “You still refuse to accept... my godhood?! Keep your own God! In fact, this might be a good time to pray to Him! For I beheld Satan as he fell from heaven! LIKE LIGHTNING!"
Nic Cage in Face / Off (1997)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: One of Cage’s finest performances, in a film that demands the kind of wild-eyed silliness that our hero is such a natural at.
Why We Love It: For once, Cage is channelling his wild-man energy in the right direction. “I’d like to take his face… off!”
John Travolta in Face / Off (1997)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: It takes a special kind of performer to out-ham Nic Cage… John Travolta is every inch that performer.
Why We Love It: We’re basically watching John Travolta play Nic Cage as John Travolta. What could be more fun?
Sean Connery in The Avengers (1998)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: If you’re playing a super-villain with designs on controlling the world’s weather, there’s only one way you can really play it. Big.
Why We Love It: Only Connery could make a moustache-twiddling villain in a giant cuddly bear suit more ridiculous. Bravo!
Frank Langella in Masters Of The Universe (1987)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Langella is on fine form as chief villain, Skeletor. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another performance in which the actor is so evidently enjoying himself!
Why We Love It: Zod might be persuasive when he instructs people to kneel, but he doesn’t have anything on Skeletor…
Pierce Brosnan in Taffin (1988)
The Scenery-Chewing Performance: A second mention for this one in a week, but Brosnan really does re-write the actor’s manual in this one, delivering his lines in ways noone else would even consider an option!
Why We Love It: It’s ham acting at its most gleeful. Don’t like it? Then maybe you shouldn’t be living heeeeeeeere!