5. Zachary Quinto
The NBC comic book trifle "Heroes" was less of a gem for other actors, but it did wonders for Quinto. His early-in-the-show performance as the deranged, super-powered Hannibal Lecter type named Sylar, and his later evolution as the troubled antihero Gabriel, showed a range and command of his precise acting style that eventually landed him the role of Spock in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Quinto, as previous choices, would fit very well in Max's power dynamic (as he often plays intellectually and physically superior men with emotional weakness), but he would also bring a schizophrenic sense of identity to the character.
While Quinto's Sylar and Spock constantly put on personas to convince others or themselves of their control in a situation, Max Payne is a man constantly doffing costume identities. This is a consequence of his time with the mafia as an undercover operative, but it bleeds into his unreliable narration of the plot. When Max needs to be, he becomes the suave ladies man with Mona in order to get her cooperation. Sometimes, he plays the sadistic torturer. Often, he uses his humor to deflect antagonists and project a flippant attitude toward criminal behavior. It's all a put-on. Max hates every second of his glib action-hero persona. His narrative voice is always quick to point out when his quips and barked ultimatums are stupid or overblown.
Quinto is the prescribed chameleon who could be the happy family man, the funny cop partner, the deranged and detached stalker, the old fashioned romantic, the black comic, and the square-jawed hero. And none of them at all.
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