Kobe Bryant: Greatest Actor in Hollywood

Robert De Niro is one of the greatest, most committed actors alive today. Perhaps THE greatest. To support this claim, you need to look no further than his role in Raging Bull for which he won his only Best Actor Academy Awards. What made De Niro’s portrayal of Jake LaMotta legendary was his insane 60 pound weight change and learning to box so well that LaMotta himself considered De Niro one of the top 20 middleweight boxers of all time. But despite this being the greatest performance by arguably the greatest actor of all time, there is one performance that completely blows it away. Yes, I’m talking about Kobe Bean Bryant’s portrayal of Michael Jordan.

Consider the difficulty of the respective roles: LaMotta was a great boxer for his era but Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. De Niro became a borderline professional boxer and ate a massive amout of eclairs for the role but Kobe became the second best shooting guard ever and kept himself in peak physical condition for the last 20 years. Also, it’s much easier to look great on camera when you have Scorsese, multiple takes and choreographed movements than when you’re performing on a live, unscripted stage 90 times a year. Kobe gets a ton of credit for completely mastering Jordan’s moves and mannerisms (which millions of people have attempted unsuccessfully) and is one playoff series short (’08 Finals) of flawlessly reproducing MJ’s career.

So the question is this: Does outperforming De Niro’s best work make Kobe the superior actor? I say yes.

As a side note, Kobe spent his formative years hanging out with Hollywood elite so is it really a surprise that his way of becoming the best was to emulate the best? Do you think maybe Jack Nicholson, a Strasberg trained method actor (like De Niro), might have passed him some tips in the VIP room over the years? Fascinating stuff. Magic Johnson may have embodied Hollywood glitz and glamour with Showtime but Kobe resonated with the city on a much more personal level. No wonder Los Angeles loves him so much.

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