high... above the title

Career-wise, to become a successful actor requires some discretion. Stay away from the edgier roles, keep the clothes on, no drugs unless there's a positive message to follow. But wait! Sometimes Hollywood megastars go against the grain, and "burn a few trees" in the process--if you know what I mean. While these leading men may be able to "open a movie," in the following roles they may have had some trouble opening their bloodshot peepers.

Brad Pitt in True Romance (1993)--Though the finest moments of this Tony Scott-directed shoot-'em-up is the vulgar improvised scene between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, let us acknowledge--nay, champion--the nuance Brad Pitt applies to his bit role as the "Stoner Roommate On Couch" (actually named Floyd). Spacey Pitt wields the bowl like it isn't the first time in his life that he's felt its cool steel between his lips... and maybe not even the first time that day.

Tom Hanks in Volunteers (1985)-- You can't get much bigger than Tom Hanks. Ah, but lest we forget (and he might like it if we did), Hanks' early career was laden with cad comic, sometimes cross-dressing buffoonery, including this obscure gem in which Hanks plays an East Coast blueblood who accidentally finds himself in the Peace Corps, stationed in Thailand. "When in Rome... " they say, and Hanks doesn't hesitate to settle in with a Thai stick of his own, while saving a quiet riverside village from the damn pinko Commies.

• Robert DeNiro in Jackie Brown (1997)--Robert DeNiro need only sit back and wait for the Lifetime Achievement Awards to roll in. But while Dago tough guys and gruesome goodfellas made him famous, in Tarantino's cuss-fest, he tones down the hard-ass and plays an aging criminal who can't keep his hands off Bridget Fonda--or her smoke. Best scene: DeNiro takes a big rip off the Graphix, then chalks up the ensuing coughing fit to "getting old." JONATHAN MAHALAK