I had every intention of seeing The Men Who Stare At Goats this weekend, but time gets away when you're doing laundry and scrubbing dogs. So I turned to Netflix and decided to do a double feature of Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Cobra Verde. Yeah, I'm not sure why I do these things to myself either.
But the intense eyes of Werner Herzog's best fiend inspired a little list of the actors and actresses who inspire you to shift in your seat with just a single gaze. The list is long and extremely difficult to narrow down to just five, and is unfairly biased towards the menfolk. While a very honorable mention goes to Clint Eastwood's squint, in the interest of variety and equality I decided to honor five others that were equally as terrifying. I hope you dig deep into your fears, and offer up your own picks of a stare that might not be able to kill goats, but that you don't ever want staring into your soul ... or at least across your work desk. (It is Monday after all, and what would your employers do if they caught you having fun with us instead of filing those TPS Reports?)
Head below the jump for the quick list ....
1. Klaus Kinski
I know there was a point in my life that I thought Vigo the Carpathian was played by Klaus Kinski. I was wrong, but you can see how easily a young person would make the mistake. Kinski has inspired shivers ever since I saw him in Doctor Zhivago (I was always convinced he'd kill everyone on that train), I can't say it any better than the brilliant Kimberly Lindbergs' did on Cinebeats: "You can see the poverty Klaus suffered as a child, the time he spent in asylums and prisons, his unhinged sexuality, passion for life and unbridled anger pouring out of his eyes and every pore of his ragged skin."
It took me a long, long time to warm up (no Shining pun intended) to Nicholson. As an impressionable youth, my first encounters with him were in Batman and The Shining, and I wasn't convinced he was on the up until Verdell the dog approved of him in As Good As It Gets. Even so, I've never been able to watch the love scene in Chinatown without a bit of a shiver. It would take an awful lot for me to willingly climb into a bed with those eyes.
3. Ralph Fiennes
I like Fiennes. I do. He's played the range from cold-blooded killers to shabby professors, and I believe him wholeheartedly every single time. But all it takes for him to make the switch between kind and charming to He Who Must Not Be Named is to shut off the soul behind his eyes. He has the coldest and most inhuman look of anyone on the list and I don't know how he does it. I don't want to know.
4. Sigourney Weaver
Weaver is one of my personal heroes. I truly believe she can break just about everyone on this list in half, and even if she saves that sort of thing for alien queens, she can certainly stare any one of them down. Think about her look of grim determination once she steps inside the Power Lifter in Aliens, or her not-quite-normal gaze in Alien: Resurrection. But the one that might top them all? The icy look she gives poor, humble Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.
5. Christopher Walken
In a staring contest between Eastwood, Kinski, and Walken, who would win? Could there even be a victor, or would life as we know it be snuffed out due to the sheer power? Walken is like Fiennes in that he can ably go from kind, to sad, to sinister quite easily, and do little more than shift what you see behind the eyes. (As Walken himself has said, he doesn't need make-up to look scary, he can do it on his own.) I've never forgotten my introduction to him via Batman Returns, and it's taken a lot of cowbell to convince me that he's actually a very nice person.