#TypesTuesday – Actors as Character Types: Kyle Chandler
This month is Power of Conscience month, where most of the website’s content will be dedicated to those who think themselves righteous, the justice seekers, though who believe only they know what is right or wrong, and will go as far as they have to do ensure that their judgment is carried through. After last year, a light was shone on what is right and what is wrong. Power of Conscience dominated last year, so it’s a good way to start 2018 by examining these characters. I’ll be looking at some of these examples from TV, Film and the world of politics throughout the course of January.
Today, we’ll be examining an actor who seems to always play Power of Conscience characters – Kyle Chandler. He always plays the character who does the right thing, and lives a humble existence trying to hold others to the law, or some kind of code. He is honourable and loyal, steadfast and decent. He will do what he believes is the decent thing for his team, his family, and America as a whole, as we will see by analysing three of his most iconic roles, all of which are Power of Conscience characters.
Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights
“Right here, right now, God has placed you to do what you do best. Go all the way.”
The fatherly coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) in Friday Night Lights demonstrates the best qualities of a Power of Conscience character.
He sets a moral example for the high school boys he coaches.
Taylor promotes teamwork, good sportsmanship, responsibility to others and the ethics of fair play in a small town that likes to win and has little patience for losing. He faces constant pressure to bend the rules in order to win games. He shows his team what winning is “worth” and what truly defines “winning.”
In the pilot episode, Taylor prays about strength of character.
Coach Taylor: “Give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives… fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts… that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves.”
Taylor is always torn between his duty and obligations to the team and the demands of his growing family. Like all Power of Conscience characters it’s not easy for him to balance the conflicting demands for his time an attention. Taylor struggles with what is the higher duty in any given situation.
John Rayburn in Bloodline
Chandler plays a similar role in Netflix’s show Bloodline, but he is the patriarch of a dysfunctional family as opposed to the father figure for a team of college football players. He is the big brother who cleans everyone’s mess up, similar to the Older Brother in the biblical parable of The Prodigal Son.
John’s reckless brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) is a Power of Excitement who upsets the family balance, and Rayburn is tested by a polarising opposite to his character, as is Agent Denham in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Rayburn is driven to protect his family, no matter the cost. He doesn’t do this out of love or obsession, but because they are his family and he believes it is his job to do the right thing. This is the closest Chandler gets to showing us the darkest side of Power of Conscience.
Agent Patrick Denham in The Wolf of Wall Street
Working for the FBI, it’s obvious that Chandler’s portrayal of G-Man Patrick Denham is Power of Conscience. FBI agents can often be confused with Power of Truth, for their detective/cop abilities, or Power of Reason, since FBI agents are trained to be meticulous and methodical, like Robert Mueller and James Comey.
However Denham, like all FBI agents, is driven by the law. He defines himself by it. In one telling scene, after he has arrested Power of Will protagonist Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), we see him go back to his normal life on a very average salary, in amongst the fabulously wealthy. He is content to live within his means, and not aspire for more.
In a film about greed, wealth and hedonism, Denham is the dogged Power of Conscience character upholding the law and doing what is right, even though he will never be as successful, comfortable or affluent as crooks like Jordan Belfort. It’s fascinating to see Chandler’s typical Power of Conscience character distilled into a 2.5-hour movie, as opposed to ongoing TV series.