Whisper Talkers on TV - Actors That Do It Well, and Those Who Need to Speak Up!
The New Tough Guy Persona
Over the past decade or so, a new acting style has become more and more popular for the TV actor. The role of the “Whisper Talker.”
Actors today tend to find that speaking in low, fast tones (much like that of a whisper) will provide a stigma around the character they are portraying. A tough exterior, yet broken soul, tormented by a shattered past and irrevocable loss. Often times these characters have something to prove and although they have the muscle to see their role through, deep beneath the surface is a softer persona looking for acceptance.
This I get.
What I don’t always get are the words coming out of the actors mouth. Nothing ruins the flow of a story, or interrupts one’s viewing pleasure than having to rewind, up the volume and rewind again in order to figure out what was said. And too bad for you poor souls that don’t have the convenience of a DVR.
So this began me thinking about who the best and worst whisper to ever grace our television sets. Here is my list and my ratings:
Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) - 24
First of all, in my opinion one of the greatest and innovative TV experiences ever aired. The first three seasons really was a combined effort to make what I think was the greatest TV show on at that time. It wasn’t until the mini-movie 24: Redemption which aired before season 7 that I really noticed Kiefer Sutherlands whisper talking. It’s really noticeable in the opening scene of the movie and continues to the end. Of course he’s not all whisper talker and changes his tone whenever the situation arises.
Whisper Talker Rating: Audible
Jim Caviezel (John Reese) - Person of Interest
Quickly becoming one of my favorite shows, Person of Interest is exciting to watch and has a leading actor with viewer appeal. Jim Caviezel whisper talks through most of his lines but he acts his tough guy part in convincing fashion. It’s too early to tell whether I’m going to put down the remote or not. I figured he played Jesus, therefore I should be tolerant to some point.
Whisper Talker Rating: Audible
Jeremy Davies (Daniel Faraday) - Lost
A great show that sucked you in every week. Intriguing, and the show style was very original. I just couldn’t get around a whisper talker that didn’t have the muscle to back it up. Jeremy Davies played Daniel Faraday in the show and was more of a boy genius than a tough guy. Although he had torment in his life, the whisper talking role should only apply for those with a rough exterior in order to portray their softer side. On TV nobody cares about the soft spoken nerd. By the way, if you want to see excellent tough guy acting by Jeremy Davies, look no further than Justified, season 2.
Whisper Talker Rating: “Can you please repeat that?”
Joseph Fiennes (FBI Special Agent Mark Benford) - Flash Forward
Academy Award nominee, Joseph Fiennes is known for his stage and film acting and has no problem with stepping outside of the mainstream to act in the independent films as well. But combine a poorly written script and whisper talking and you have “Flash Forward.” It’s hard for me to blame him for his approach to his character. There obviously is a reason for his character to be brooding and conflicted. Anyone would if they knew their fate and couldn’t stop it. Too bad he didn’t flash forward to see how the show would have turned out.
Whisper Talker Rating: I’m going to bed.
The role of the whisper talker is alive and well in TV and often times mocked on variety shows. But one thing is for sure: with TV encroaching the limits of what they can do on TV as well as cable shows being more accessible, the role of the tough guy whisper talker is not going away anytime soon. Please, just whisper talk sparingly.