I hold nothing back when I tell you that love Rafe Spall. Since he arrogantly tapped out a text to the infuriation of the titular character in Shaun of the Dead, he has been on a stunning trajectory. Son of the great Timothy Spall, Rafe has done magical with his talent and that looks to be on the rise. Funny and sarcastic yet emotional and stoic, Spall can play a range of characters in an eclectic collection of movies and television shows. With an abundance of personality, he is easily one of the country’s best actors and deserves to be in all the things. I’ve said this for a while, so I’ll say it again; Put Rafe Spall in all the things.
Anyway, he is setting sail in family adventure Swallows and Amazons which sees him play the mysterious Uncle Jim who is pursued by spies. To celebrate his role, we’ve collated some of Spall’s best work in celebration.
Black Mirror: White Christmas (2014)
Charlie Brooker’s television series revolves around different dystopian worlds where technology have obliterated the moral system, laying waste to our humanity. White Christmas is one of the most alarming astute, powerful terrifying, and utterly palpable Chritmas shows. It stars Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall who are two men having a chat inside a cabin about the misdeeds they have done in their life. Whilst Hamm drove a digital woman (who is very much real) mad, and caused a man to commit suicide, its Spall’s Joe who has the viscerally bleak tale. Dealing with technology that means you can block people from your life, Joe is driven to extremes to get his ex-wife back. Unfurling Joe’s state with sorrow, rage, and anger, this is an impeccable and enthralling personality.
Life of Pi (2012)
Spall lost a dramatic amount of weight and adopted a Canadian accent to play this role so when he cropped up in Ang Lee’s Oscar winning drama, many didn’t recognise him. But it is truly the stellar actor as Yann Martel – the author capturing Pi’s story to tell to the masses. With eyes as wide as wonder, Spall had to quickly replace Tobey Macguire yet still became a memorable feature of a film filled with glowing whales and hungry tigers which is an astonishing feet!
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Teaming up with Paddy Considine to produce the best double act in the film, seconded only by Angel and Danny, Spall is part of the Andy’s. Considine and Spall play moustached and gruff detectives who are so affectionately called the Andy’s because of their shared name (and because talking to them is like an uphill struggle.) Undeterred by Angel’s insistence that a series of accidents are actually murders, The Andy’s make Angel’s life a bit of a misery. They also have the best comedic timing with one another and within the whole of Hot Fuzz. In fact, I could repeatedly watch Rafe Spall do the “farmers’ mums” joke and still giggling accordingly.
One Day (2011)
The overall reaction to this film is admittedly poor mainly due to Anne Hathaway’s confusion as to what warrants a Yorkshire accent. Nevertheless, there is a lot of gold that shimmers within this romantic drama that revolves around two people on the same day – just different years and experiences apart. Rafe Spall plays the unfortunate Ian who is always second place to Emma’s affections for Dexter. He struggles on and eventually finds his own happiness but never forgets his Emma. To understand Spall’s brilliance, you just have to look at the scene where Dexter and Ian are reminiscing about Emma, the heartfelt and earnest Ian, though spurned from Emma, still emotional about her. It’s a great performance from a side character and one that Spall encompasses well.
X + Y (2014)
Sidebar: Netflix called this film a comedy. Now I don’t know where they pulled that from seeing as, within the first ten minutes, a devastating car crash happens, but apparently this is as hilarious as Stepbrothers. Which it isn’t, because the film is in fact a glorious drama about a young boy with autism competing in a mathematical competition. Rafe Spall plays maths tutor Martin Humphreys who helps the young Nathan achieve his goals whilst also cultivating a safe environment for Nathan to flourish. Blighted by sclerosis, Humphreys’ struggles in pain every day which is what Spall greatly echoes out. Though somewhat stoic and indefinitely grumpy, Spall allows the teacher moments of emotional clarity and growth too in an astute and underappreciated performance.
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