"You know... we need a sort of slightly off center, almost crazy, kinda... you know... Christopher Walken-type. Um, hey... is Christopher Walken available?"
In character acting this is golden. Walken created a type. Other really great actors along that line are the dearly deceased Andreas Katsulas and Vincent Schiavelli.
Actresses have a much harder time at this because you want to create a character, not fall into a stereotype. But sometime the stereotype is great because it does guarantee work. One favourite in recent years who's gotten great exposure as 'the older woman' is Alice Drummond
But recently I was looking thru television actors to see what they'd done previously. As I mentioned, I've been heavily into Heroes of late. One of the Actresses on the show is Ali Larter. Ali plays multiple personality disorder, super strong Jessica and her primary personality Niki.
Looking thru her resume I also noted that she was in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Ironically, not really playing a character too far from what she does in Heroes. She's managed to create that, "No, no.. more intellectual than white trash, but strong... Really strong, like not afraid to cut you with a knife to defend someone or shut you up... I mean... is Ali Larter available?"
This is a good thing because this is a specific niche that she can use, grow, and develop in her current series and in other shows and films.
So just a general thumbs up for superior character work for Ali Larter.