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Dear Reader:

As is often the case with me, I've got an Elvis Costello lyric running through my head:

Roll up for the ghost train

Non-stop through the city

Step right up and show your face

We only want the pretty ones

Sounds like Hollywood, right? The place where only the young and beautiful need apply…

Wrong. This special edition of our annual "Actors We Love" issue is here to put the lie to that old myth. Herein we offer a gallery of actors we love for their craft, their art, their unglamorous, reliable, you-can-take-it-to-the-bank acting chops. We're calling them "character actors" here, but we might just as well call them actor's actors, or Hollywood's bread and butter—or, as Joe Pantoliano once put it to me, the people who do the "real acting."

As with all myths, there's some truth in Hollywood's beauty myth; it's just not the whole story. Another side of the story is that performers who are not tall, buxom, muscled, perfectly coiffed, or fit into a size 2 can make a living and build a body of work in this business. Yet another part of the story is that, at the end of the day, among actors and those who love acting, there's nothing hipper—dare we say sexier?—than great, interesting, offbeat actors who do their thing as well as the folks profiled in this issue do.

We hope you enjoy this annual tribute issue as much as we enjoy putting it together. It's nice, in the midst of this tough business and the critical judgments that go with the job of putting out a newspaper, to pause for this chance to do nothing for page after page but hold up those we love for praise, especially when they're otherwise under-praised elsewhere.

So, for now, sit back and feel the love in the room. Next week it's back to the trenches.

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