5 actors who succeeded in their role (and 5 who failed)
Nine perfect strangers is an original Hulu television series adapted from the novel by Liane Moriarty. A group of nine strangers head to a remote resort town called Tranquillum for some natural healing. However, they end up on a drug-fueled adventure. Nine perfect strangers boasts a solid ensemble cast.
The plot is underpinned by compelling performances, although some actors play better than others. A large number of Nine Perfect Stranger’s the actors were phenomenal additions to the show. Some, however, haven’t been given the tools to grow like their stage counterparts and as a result, they deliver less commendable performances.
ten Fallen short: Melvin Gregg as Ben
Ben is introduced to fans at the very beginning of Nine perfect strangers, but he doesn’t make much of an impression throughout the episode. Despite some interesting backstories (like being a lottery winner and an inattentive husband), Ben isn’t written as well as the other characters.
Melvin Gregg’s character hasn’t had as much growth as the others. Either way, Ben shows self-awareness on the men’s journey through the woods and rightly says no one should pity him. His confrontation with Napoleon in the hot spring is promising, but nothing comes of it. In fact, Ben and Napoleon never have the opportunity to interact directly again.
9 Nailed: Tiffany Boone as Delilah
Right from the start, Delilah is a calming presence in Tranquillum. She seems to have all the answers but remains professional and respectful. Boone expertly portrays Delilah’s emotional turmoil over Masha’s unethical behavior and her concern for the safety of guests. Delilah is an ethical character who believes in minimizing the dosage in smoothies when necessary.
His ability to let the public know Lars’ secret while convincingly keeping them in the dark deserves applause. Delilah doesn’t know he’s a journalist, but she’s definitely suspicious. Delilah’s fondness for Masha and Yao also proves romantic, making the trio an intriguing watch. Little fires everywheres Tiffany Boone brings the duplicity and complex nature of Delilah’s character to life.
8 Fell Short: Manny Jacinto as Yao
Yao seems like a promising character due to his interactions with the guests. He features in Masha’s thoughts about existence, and she seems to think they are connected across dimensions. This is a source of conflict in Yao’s relationship with Delilah.
There’s a lot of emotional turmoil in this love triangle, but Jacinto never has a chance to be anything but upset. It does a disservice to Nine perfect strangers because Jacinto is capable of so much more. Jacinto provided a lot of emotion in The right placebut fans couldn’t see the range he has in Nine perfect strangers because his character doesn’t get enough screen time.
7 Nailed: Bobby Cannavale as Tony “Smiley” Hogburn
Smiley Hogburn is a retired American football player with a painkiller addiction. His growth arc is one of the most defined Nine perfect strangers. Fans get clues to his caring nature early in the series when he stops his car to ask Frances why she’s distraught.
Foreshadowing his journey through the show, Tony becomes hostile and he and Frances part ways on less than friendly terms. However, they end up in Tranquillum. Tony and Frances’ slow-burn romance is unexpected, but a welcome addition to the series. Cannavale is able to successfully balance being a loving character and a loose cannon, nailing his role.
6 Below: Grace Van Patten as Zoe Marconi
Daughter of Heather and Napoleon Marconi and twin sister of Zach, Zoe is a complex character. The loss of a twin brother is occasionally seen on television, but Grace Van Patten lacks the tools to portray such emotional turmoil convincingly. For example, she tells everyone that she wasn’t close with Zach, but later reveals that she was, and her emotions don’t seem to change.
Although Van Patten is a talented actor, the script gives him little work to reveal the depth of his grief. More emotional dialogue would have worked well for Van Patten’s character in Episode 5 when she turns 21 without her twin. His lines in Nine perfect strangers do not adequately reveal the anguish that Zoe feels. The other cast members are given scripts that reflect their restlessness. Unfortunately, this puts her at a disadvantage.
5 Nailed: Samara Weaving as Jessica
Jessica and Ben are the first couple the audience is introduced to. As an influencer, Jessica is somewhat obsessed with her social media presence. Samara Weaving’s dedication to the role included wearing prosthetics so she could look like she’d had cosmetic surgery. Jessica is not particularly superficial, and she is very concerned about the strength of her marriage to Ben.
Weaving is able to display the complexity of Jessica’s personality through her interactions with Frances and Carmel. Her portrayal conveys Jessica’s awareness of how people perceive her. Jessica’s innovation during the sack race, her facial expressions and her kindness show the extent of Samara Weaving’s acting abilities.
4 Fell Short: Luke Evans as Lars
Lars seems rude and unhelpful before fans even know him. Part of Lars’ behavior stems from the bullying he suffered from classmates and his father. Unfortunately, Lars has too many plot points in development and many storylines that aren’t fully explored. There’s childhood trauma, a relationship with Ray, and his eventual investigation of the station.
Lars even becomes a writer without prefiguration in the plot. Evans looks promising in scenes with Zoe and Carmel, but he doesn’t make a compelling investigative reporter or father because his growth as a character is rushed. Nine complete strangers.
3 Nailed: Michael Shannon as Napoleon Marconi
Napoleon Marconi is a carefree high school teacher and the patriarch of the Marconi family. The Marconis (Napoleon, Heather and Zoe) are a lower income family than the rest of the guests. As a result, Napoleon is delighted to have secured a discount on the expensive Tranquillum experience. On the surface, they are the most balanced group, but they hide the greatest tragedy.
Shannon displays a flair for character growth almost in defiance of where the plot falls short. He has lost a son, has a distraught wife and a daughter who suppresses her emotions. Napoleon abruptly changes from a carefree father to an emotionally intelligent and openly grieving father. Such change needs a talented actor to pull it off, and Michael Shannon is up to the task.
2 Below: Nicole Kidman as Masha
Tranquillum owner Masha is a Russian-American woman played by Nicole Kidman. Masha is portrayed as an enigma before she makes an appearance. Playing into Masha’s mystery, the area store owner describes her attendees as “completely new people” to Carmel and Lars.
Nicole Kidman is an incredibly talented actress, but despite her best efforts, Masha’s unconvincing Russian accent is very distracting. Later in the series, Kidman tries to balance the emotions of her carefree nature and her grief, but her phenomenal acting abilities suffer due to her devotion to her Russian accent.
1 Nailed: Regina Hall as Carmel
Arguably the most complex of the guests, Carmel at first seems like a straightforward character. Her husband left her for a younger woman and she seems eager for other people to like her. When she meets Frances, she is openly amazed. Regina Hall plays the sweet wronged wife, oblivious fan, and harmless cheerleader perfectly.
Hall also manages to sell the idea of a woman who tried to murder a mistress while in costume. Carmel is an incredibly intelligent character who manages to fool everyone in Tranquillum as well as the audience. His supposed outbursts are carefully planned in advance, as is his oblivion. Regina Hall convincingly portrays the layered persona of Carmel. This lineup speaks volumes about Hall’s incredible acting abilities.
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