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By Andrew Gans
23 May 2012


Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon. 

"The words 'national treasure' are overused, but in Langella's case they are apt. Langella's combination of raw talent, charisma, sex appeal and technique have been evident over a lifetime of great performances, but the addition of a masterful characterization is what made his Nixon the jewel in his crown. Somehow, the demands of playing someone we all knew (or thought we knew) so well—someone who had been caricatured and parodied so many times—brought out the very best in Langella. I was shocked when the paunchy, stooped figure loped across the stage at the beginning of the play, and marveled at how Langella transformed his honeyed baritone into Nixon's rumbling cadence without invoking memories of Dan Ackroyd on 'Saturday Night Live.' He conveyed more with his hands while sitting in a chair than most actors can with their whole body. He played Nixon as a man hungry for affirmation and desperate to silence the voice of inferiority in his head. He showed us the roots of his narcissism. Thank goodness the performance is preserved on film. Langella's combination of soul and technical mastery are the equal of any of the greatest British thespians."

Click here to visit Frank Langella's page at the Playbill Vault.