Total Nerd

Vincent D'Onofrio Is Awesome In Everything - Even If You Don't Recognize Him Half The Time 

Mike McGranaghan
Updated June 16, 2020 47.9k votes 10.3k voters 313.4k views 18 items

List Rules Vote up the performances that prove what a versatile and surprising actor Vincent D'Onofrio is.

If you watch films on a regular basis, you've undoubtedly seen a bunch of Vincent D'Onofrio movies. But did you always know it was Vincent D'Onofrio you were watching? The actor has had a phenomenally successful career by not only being wildly talented, but also having a chameleon-like quality. Sometimes you immediately recognize him and sometimes you don't. He happily alters his appearance and personality to fit whatever character he's tackling. This rare ability allows him to take on a diverse range of roles in every genre, from heroes to villains. Somehow the guy who played Pvt. Pyle in Full Metal Jacket is the same actor who played the alien in the "Edgar suit" in Men in Black.

D'Onofrio may not have won an Oscar, but everyone always loves what he does on-camera. At the same time, e hdoesn't limit himself to the big screen. He's made intermittent forays into television, most notably in his starring role on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. No matter the screen size, he consistently surprises audiences with inventive, dedicated performances. No two are alike.

This continually amazing actor's most notable roles reveal what makes him such a special performer. In every case, Vincent D'Onofrio's TV shows and movies showcase the creativity he brings to each project, both in terms of how he appears and how he makes a fictional person come alive. 

Full Metal Jacket is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Vincent D'Onofrio Is Awesome In Everything - Even If You Don't Recognize Him Half The Time
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

To portray the role of Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence, D'Onofrio gained 70 pounds. That weight gain literally transformed him. From there, he proceeded to turn the overweight, occasionally clueless solider into a fully formed character.

In some ways, the actor had to transform himself twice. The physical transformation is one way. The other is in how he convincingly turns Pyle from a food-hoarding goofball into an angry, violent man who executes his hostile drill sergeant and then himself. It's a big personality shift, yet D'Onofrio makes the notion that Pyle has "snapped" as credible as it is haunting.

Awesome performance?
Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Vincent D'Onofrio Is Awesome In Everything - Even If You Don't Recognize Him Half The Time
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When talking about the massive success of Men in Black, credit is usually given to the hilarious odd-couple chemistry between stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The truth, though, is that D'Onofrio's performance as the villain is just as essential. He plays Edgar the Bug, an extraterrestrial creature who comes to Earth and takes over the body of a farmer. 

The actor's performance as the grotesque Edgar is every bit as funny as the Smith/Jones bickering. Rather than letting the makeup and fake teeth do all the work, he creates an entire physicality for the character - dazed expression, crooked mouth, slurred speech, and spastic, lumbering movements. D'Onofrio's work as Edgar proves he has A+ comedic skills, and also demonstrates his total commitment to every role.

Awesome performance?
'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' - As A Brilliant, Eccentric Criminal Pathologist
'Law & Order: Crimin... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Vincent D'Onofrio Is Awesome In Everything - Even If You Don't Recognize Him Half The Time
Photo: NBC

Although he's primarily worked in film, D'Onofrio has made occasional forays into television. Most notably, he starred in 141 episodes of the legal drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent, playing Robert Goren, a brilliant investigator who specializes in comprehending the psychology behind criminality. While everyone agrees he's the best at what he does, Goren's personal eccentricities often drive his colleagues bananas.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent gave D'Onofrio a chance to fully develop his character over the course of several years, as opposed to having to do it within the span of a two-hour movie. This allowed him to provide Goren with many layers, exploring his personal demons as well as his family life. The result is a rich, three-dimensional portrait of a complex man.

Awesome performance?
'Daredevil' - As A Powerful Yet Anguished Comic Book Supervillain
'Daredevil' - As A Power... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Vincent D'Onofrio Is Awesome In Everything - Even If You Don't Recognize Him Half The Time
Photo: Netflix

It's a testament to how good D'Onofrio is in Netflix's Daredevil series that most people agree the second season - i.e., the one in which he only appears half the time - is the weakest of the three. He plays Wilson Fisk, also known as Kingpin. In Marvel Comics, the character is a major supervillain, a bald man of immense muscle who typically wears a white suit jacket and carries a diamond-tipped cane. The actor replicates that look on the show.

There's a long history of performers chewing the scenery when playing a comic book bad guy, from Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's Batman to Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home. D'Onofrio does something remarkable by making Kingpin a suitably grandiose villain while also making him feel like a guy who could exist in real life. Writing for Grantland, Alex Pappademas accurately praised D'Onofrio's work when he said the actor turns Wilson Fisk into "a fully realized human - a man of wealth and taste who has cultivated elegant manners to hold his rage and sorrow in check."

Awesome performance?