Welcome to ACTING UP. This is the eleventh installment in a regular Casting Networks feature designed to call attention to standout roles and performances in television/streaming and film. It will spotlight work in projects that have recently been released as well as work in projects being released that same week. The column will also tell you how those actors and actresses got to where you see them now. Read up and watch these performances as your weekly in-home acting class.
Eleventh up: Sosie Bacon, who portrays Patricia Krenwinkel in the feature Charlie Says that opens wide on Friday; and Chris O’Dowd, who stars with Rosamund Pike in the limited-run series State of the Union that premiered on May 6 and runs weeknights through the 17th.
THE PERFORMER: Sosie Bacon
THE FILM: “Charlie Says” in theaters today.
THE PERFORMANCE: If the last name looks familiar, it should. Bacon is the 27-year-old daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. And while she’s had a few plum roles to date, “Charlie Says” may be her best exposure to date. Why? Because, with the 50th anniversary of the Manson Family murders coming up, everything’s coming up Charlie this summer.
Bacon portrays the real-life character Patricia Krenwinkel, one of the Manson followers who participated in the grisly Tate-LaBianca murders and went to prison for her role. In fact, Krenwinkel has been in the pokey for nearly a half-century and is now the longest-incarcerated inmate in the California penal system.
In the movie, Bacon plays her as a dreamy-eyed hippie-turned-killer who is deeply under the cultist spell Charles Manson. She says things like, “We don’t talk about our past. Our lives started when we met Charlie” and “Charlie taught us that death and life are the same thing, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
As played with intensity and conviction by Bacon, the character, at least, doesn’t exhibit a lot of remorse in the wake of the crime. “We did what we had to do – right?” she asks rhetorically. “I know everyone thinks we’re these scary creatures who committed these horrible crimes. But we did what we had to do.”
THE CAREER: Bacon’s most visible performance to date was portraying Skye Miller during the first season of the Netflix hit “13 Reasons Why.” A lot of her other work has been helped by having famous, connected parents, including appearing in the 2005 feature “Loverboy” with mom and dad; in the TNT series “The Closer” that same year (starring mom Sedgwick); and in the 2017 made-for-TV movie “Story of a Girl” (co-starring her father and directed by her mother).
But all indications are that Sosie has much more going for her than good familial connections. She has a look and a style that command whatever screen she’s on, hints of which we saw in “13 Reasons Why” and that evolves in “Charlie Says.”
THE PERFORMER: Chris O’Dowd
THE SERIES: “State of the Union” on Sundance
THE PERFORMANCE: “State of the Union” is an intriguing, deceptively artful confection starring the Irish-born O’Dowd and the British-born Pike as Tom and Louise, whose marriage his coming unraveled following her short affair. The series of ten 10-minute episodes finds the distressed couple meeting in a pub to get themselves together before entering the office of a marriage counselor for their session.
Extraordinarily well-acted, the show (directed by Stephen Frears of “The Queen” fame) demonstrates the easy chemistry the couple has as well as O’Dowd’s disarming charm.
Louise: “If it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t be here.”
Louise: “Just ‘No’?”
Tom: Yes, just ‘No.’ If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. Sad fact.”
Louise: “You wouldn’t take a tiny bit of the responsibility?”
Tom: “No, why?”
Louise: “Because it’s a long, complicated road that’s led us here, don’t you think?”
Tom: “I mean that depends on how you look at it…You slept with someone else, and now here we are.”
Louise: “You stopped sleeping with me, so I started sleeping with someone else.”
Tom: “Such a short version and quite crude if you don’t mind me saying.”
Tom: “Our relationship is like Usain Bolt with a groin strain.”
THE CAREER: Now 39, O’Dowd has enjoyed quite a variety of roles for a man whose career shifted to the next gear less than a decade ago. His most visible credits are his highly visible cameo in the comedy smash “Bridesmaids” in 2011 and a five-episode recurring arc in 2012-13 in the HBO series “Girls.”
More recently, O’Dowd worked with Ray Romano in the Epix series version of “Get Shorty” in 2017-18 as well as in the Aaron Sorkin-written and directed “Molly’s Game” (also in 2017) starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner. And he was the voice of Shamus the Coachman in “Marry Poppins Returns.”