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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Chris O'Dowd shaves head and grows thick beard for 'flawless' Broadway performance

Caitlin McBride

Published 17/04/2014 | 10:18

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16:  Actor Chris O'Dowd attends the after party for the Broadway opening night for "Of Mice and Men" at The Plaza Hotel on April 16, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Actor Chris O'Dowd attends the after party for the Broadway opening night for "Of Mice and Men" at The Plaza Hotel

Irish actor Chris O'Dowd has undergone a full Lennie transformation for his role in 'Of Mice and Men', earning him the best reviews of his career.

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The Roscommon native is starring alongside James Franco and Leighton Meester in the stage adaptation of John Steinback's classic novel, which earned rave reviews after its opening night last night.

O'Dowd takes on the classic role of the gentle giant Lennie opposite Franco's super sharp George, and on top of bulking up his physique, he's also shaved his head and grown a full bushy beard for the role.

And while it may have been considered a risk to move from a burgeoning film career to a stint on stage, it's clearly paid off as the Moone Boy star was praised by critics for his flawless performance.

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It marks a transition into more serious role for the popular comedic actor, with his currently role in black comedy Calvary also earning praise.

"O’Dowd has mastered a small but refined repertoire of facial expressions and gestures (one hand movement has the delicacy of an artist) that is quite astonishing," Variety magazine wrote of his performance in Of Mice and Men. "Going beyond that physical expressiveness, the depth and understanding he brings to the role render Lennie, quite simply, heartbreaking.

"The ensemble acting is flawless."

"That stellar work, lead-produced by David Binder, extends to a name above the title: Chris O'Dowd, whose Lennie represents a genuinely lovely piece of acting, an embrace of the complexities of the kind of man we'd now diagnose with all kinds of labels and perhaps protect (or perhaps not), but whom they just used to call "slow." Or "not real smart." And then stick him out there to make a living, to find a friend on stony ground," the Chicago Tribune wrote.

 

The Hollywood Reporter also praised his performance, saying: "Irish actor O'Dowd is tremendous in a part that could easily stray into mawkish territory. His Lennie is a trusting innocent, clinging to the rituals of his life with George.

"Like a child with a beloved bedtime story, he begs repeatedly to hear George outline their shared dream of owning a small farm, where they can "live off the fat of the land." Even the familiar words of George's scolding when he messes up are to some degree soothing to Lennie."

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