5 Great Modern Movie Monologues for Male or Male-Identifying Actors

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Photo Source: Allyson Riggs/Peter Spears/Sony Pictures Classics/David Lee/Focus Features

There is a wealth of great monologues delivered by men throughout film history—whether you want to be a contender like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” perform the ultimate mirror exercise (“You talkin’ to me?”) like Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver,” or tell someone just how much they can’t handle the truth like Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.” But what are some more recent classic monologues for actors to perform? Below are five smashing speeches that are certain to stand out at your next audition.

George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air” (2009)

“What’s in your backpack?” asks Clooney’s frequent flier extraordinaire in Jason Reitman’s rich character drama. Over three riveting minutes, the actor illustrates how we can compartmentalize our relationships and needs into smaller packages. One of the movie’s sly jokes comes when Clooney’s character acquires more baggage (literally and figuratively) the further he gets away from this belief system; but like the efficiency expert he portrays, he sells you on every single idea like a sno-cone supplier on a 110-degree summer day.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood” (2007)

“I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!” It’s cheating a little to call this a monologue given that costar Paul Dano does occasionally interject, but it’s also one of the three-time Oscar winner’s greatest moments. The actor stars as the unapologetic oil baron in Paul Thomas Anderson’s seismic boom of a movie. He’s so fervently magnetic and persuasive, it’s as if there’s nobody else in the world at this moment. The oratory has such a notable pop culture tail that even Bill Hader had a go at it on “Saturday Night Live.”

Michael Stuhlbarg as Mr. Perlman in “Call Me By Your Name” (2017)

The red-hot Timothée Chalamet may have been the one to garner an Oscar nomination for Luca Guadagnino’s sun-kissed look at summer lovin’ and heartbreak in 1980s rural Italy, but Stuhlbarg’s deeply felt, time-stopping final monologue followed all of us out of the cinema. Parsing out the melancholy within James Ivory’s gorgeous, Oscar-winning screenplay, Stuhlbarg conveys an entire lifetime of the high flame and eventual burnout of trying to remain an object of desire when the world seems to have passed you by.

Corey Hawkins as Kwame Ture in “BlacKkKlansman” (2018)

There is no shortage of tremendous speechmakers in Spike Lee’s considerable canon (Denzel Washington in “Malcolm X,” Samuel L. Jackson in “Jungle Fever”), but Hawkins’ fiery sermon in the veteran filmmaker’s ripped-from-real-life drama might be one of the most undersung. It’s as brash and rousing as anything ever seen in a Lee film; and given the charged, magnificently uncomfortable milieu most of the film takes place in (with two detectives, one Black, infiltrating the muck of white supremacists), Hawkins’ battle cry for equality rings even louder and more urgently. 

Ke Huy Quan as Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022)

Not every great monologue has to be in one dialect or language. This is only one of the admirable aspects of Quan’s stirring, Oscar-winning performance in the multiverse-swinging juggernaut. A dutiful husband and father to a family spiraling ever so dramatically out of control, his warm Waymond literally assassinates with empathy (“Be kind”). The fact that this film celebrates a charged solo in both Mandarin and English simultaneously is worth—instead of this daffy, delectable film’s famous “hot dog fingers”—two very big thumbs up.

Jason Clark
Jason Clark (he/him) has over 25 years in the entertainment and media industry covering film, television, and theater. He comes to Backstage from TheWrap, where he’s worked as an awards reporter since 2021. He also has bylines in Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, Vulture, the Village Voice, AllMovie, and Slant Magazine, among many others. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinema studies from New York University.
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