Rupert Crosse received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Ned McCaslin in The Reivers.
The Reivers is about a boy who goes on a bit of adventure to Memphis with two men Boon (Steve McQueen) and Ned (Crosse) who steal his father's car.
Rupert Crosse's nomination is rather forgotten in this film even though it was the first time an African American actor was nominated in this category. Crosse portrays Ned who at the beginning third of the film is a bit of a wacky character who gets in a non too serious fight with McQueen's Boon early on over the use of the car they later steal. Crosse is actually fine at being wacky without going too far that he seems like a cartoon. He finds the right tone with his performance to really fit McQueen's performance as well as the tone of the film.
The wacky Ned never becomes an annoying character as he frankly could have easily been even he went to far with the wackiness that drives his character early on, but Crosse is actually fairly endearing on the role early on and is likable presence within film. His character though quickly is required to be more than comedic when he and another older African American man are threatened by a racist Sheriff. The film quickly requires a passionate want for human decency from the sheriff.
Crosse again is very effective with this very different side of Ned with his performance. There is a quiet understated strength in his performance he gives to Ned that works well. He also becomes a bit of an inspirational character near the end that again Crosse effectively portrays showing a simple but nicely moving enthusiasm. Crosse also makes this transition well by not overdoing the humorous elements of Ned early on, but still have a lighthearted quality to his performance even in his more serious scenes.
Rupert Crosse's character of Ned is pretty limited in terms of what he is given but Crosse does a fine job with every element of the character he is required to fulfill. Ned very easily could have been a too simplistic of a character, but Crosse carefully treads both the humorous and more serious elements of the character never let either element override the other, therefore allowing his transitions during the film to be quite natural even though the transitions could have been forced feeling. It is not most complex of performances by Crosse but it is an entirely fine performance that suits his role well.