Rarely viewed as an 'actor's director,' Malick has nevertheless brought out some great work
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2. Martin Sheen, “Badlands” (1973)
In Malick’s debut feature, Martin Sheen really burst onto the scene in a star-making performance as alluring as it was dangerous. The actor has said he was greatly inspired by James Dean early in life, and in “Badlands,” he was able to tap the kind of charisma that made Dean an icon and bend it around the intriguing character of Kit Carruthers. Sheen exuded all the elements necessary to make it a portrayal organic to Malick’s vision: boredom, delusion, obsession, passion, kindness, coldness, etc. It was a seemingly irreconcilable blend, a tightrope Sheen walked to perfection.