7 Things: Actresses That I Like – #6 Laura Elena Harring

It always intrigues me when a movie like Mulholland Drive comes along and captures the public’s attention. Then, one of the main actresses is catapulted toward the stratosphere, while another lingers just slightly above the level at which they both started.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Naomi Watts brought something undeniably special to Mulholland Drive, but she didn’t do it alone. Could she have turned in the performance that she did acting opposite a stick-actor? I’m gonna say “no.” I’m also going to say that we regularly judge the performance of an actor by how much material that person has to work with, so if you’ve got all the best scenes in a movie, if you carry the emotional-weight of the film, you are going to shine on that screen. No doubt. And I am in no way saying that the dinner party scene in that movie where everything seems to be happening around Naomi Watts’ character, and a single-tear travels down her cheek as she quickly turns her head at the sound of a pre-toast clinking glass, isn’t memorable. Obviously, it is.

What I am saying is that Laura Elena (I refuse to drop the Elena. It’s sexy. She should have stuck with it.) gave as good as she was getting and was almost completely overlooked. Often, I think this happens to actresses who are playing extremely sexy characters. I don’t know why, though I suspect that people look at the person and think, “How hard is it to play intensely sexy when you have the God-given gift of sex appeal?” Well, I’ve seen plenty of actresses prove that it’s not as easy as it looks.

Now, that said, I do think that typecasting – the most debilitating challenge for actors – sort of boxed Laura Elena in for several years after Mulholland Drive. I think it still happens to her quite a lot. I suspect that she often gets the direction “Just be sexy.” I also believe, though, that she can be a whole lot more than that. She was hired for Love in the Time of Cholera mostly to be sexy and to display her breasts. In her very brief appearance in the movie, though, she managed to display such comedic sex appeal, there was really no doubting her strong on-screen presence.

And then she got the opportunity to do Drool. The character of Anora was unlike any she had ever played on-screen. Instead of her usual striking confidence, the role required a lot of vulnerability, and it was a brilliant character arc done very well. Which is why it is my favorite performance.

Also, there is nothing quite so magical as walking out of a theater with a new actress crush, looking that person up and discovering that you obsessively watched them in a movie in junior high as well, so you really have a decade-old actress crush. And now, two decades and counting.

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