Between his wonderfully exacting and deeply felt turn as Edward de Vere in Roland Emmerich‘s Anonymous and his immersive, authentic performance as a somewhat burnt-out musician in Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg, I’m ready to offer an apology to Rhys Ifans for trashing him ten years ago…despite the fact that I was on the money when I did.

Here’s how I put it in a 2001 column called “Stop Rhys Ifans,” which was mainly written in response to his performance in Roger Michell‘s Enduring Love:

“I want to put this carefully so as not to be misinterpreted. I’m trying to formulate what I consider to be a modest and temperate industry initiative. The unmalicious goal is the total termination of acting jobs given to Rhys Ifans, the downmarket, stubble-faced tall guy with dirty-blonde 1971 hippy hair who, in his movie roles, is often given to beatific expressions and saying lines in such a way as to produce vague mystifications.

“It’s just that Ifans, a 36 year-old, six-foot-two Welshman, has been cast as more or less the same guy in film after film, and the cumulative effect has finally reached repulsion levels. Whatever the character, whatever the story or film title…Human Nature, Danny Deckchair, portions of Vanity Fair, Roger Michell‘s Enduring Love…Ifans lumbers up to the plate and goes into his gangly, grungy, S.P.C.A. mode.

“Did Ifans’ performances in The Shipping News, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Hotel deliver the same? Memory isn’t serving; I may have erased the hard drive out of some insuppressable instinct.

“In Enduring Love, which I saw Thursday night, Ifans plays what struck me as hands-down the most profoundly icky and repulsive stalker character in the history of film.

“I didn’t want to see Ifans killed in some quick tidy way; I wanted to see a little torture thrown in first. The story, set in England and based on the Ian McEwan novel, is about the after-effects of a bizarre falling death upon two men (Ifans being one) who happen to witness it. It seemed only natural that Ifans character should be dealt with similarly. A plunge off a nice tall building, say. For symmetry’s sake.

“Lamentably, Michell is too original a director to go for such a stock indulgence. This is a strong disciplined film with nothing so mundane as mere audience satisfaction on its agenda. It doesn’t compromise or indulge in half-measures. I know I sound muddled, but in its own way Enduring Love is a very commanding work.

“But I really, really don’t want to see Ifans playing a downmarket, stubble-faced tall guy with dirty-blonde 1971 hippy hair ever again. I don’t know anything or presume anything. As ship’s engineer Steve McQueen said to the first mate in The Sand Pebbles (and yes, I’ve referenced this line before), “I’m just tellin’ ya.”

“I’m not trying to be cruel or cause pain. If I know this industry, Ifans will continue to work for years to come. (He’s apparently now making, or about to make, a new movie with Human Nature director Michel Gondry.) Casting directors generally have minds of their own and couldn’t give two shits.”

My ultimate point is that Ifans has grown into a much more accomplished actor than he was ten years ago, and has lucked into better roles.