Alejandro Jodorowsky did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of El Topo which would be the Mole in English.
Alejandro Jodorowsky, who also directed the film, plays the wandering gun man who wanders the desert shooting men, riding with his naked son, or romancing/raping a woman. El Topo is without a doubt a director's film, the fact that Jodorowsky is also the star only seems to reinforce this point. This is not a case where a single performance stands out past the vision of the director either. Every scene is dominated by the images not by anything that actors are doing who are mainly used as parts of every painting that Jodorowsky creates. This is true for every single performance of the film including Jodowsky's although his performance comes the closest to breaking away from his own direction.
The first half of Jodorowsky's performance consists of a steely gaze as he defeats his foes as he does in his own Man With No Name sort of way. Jodorowsky is a pretty effective quiet bad ass. There is a slight quirk in the method of shooting his opponents, but Jodorowsky's during the duels keeps his performance very much restrained. That is unless there is something else that happens other than him vanquishing a foe. Jodorowsky screams, makes wild eyes, and his expressions seem to become as insane as his set pieces. This all works in tandem with his direction, but again it always stays securely with this direction never really standing out on his own. Jodorowsky does use himself well and his performance properly adds to his scenes.
The second half of the film El Topo is thoroughly shaven and seems to become a monk of sorts and seems to put away his killing ways. Jodorowsky's performance becomes a bit more regulated in monk form as he is more expressive yet more restrained as well. Jodorowsky plays the reformed El Topo, who is trying to help the group of disfigured people, as a most joyous man who seems fervent in his cause with a great appreciation for his work. There of course is not really much of a transition, it is a rather instant jump due to El Topo being shot, but this again fits perfectly in with the whole style of the film that is more about the individual scenes than a precise journey. Jodorowsky though once again fits within his film well in the changed El Topo.
The story of the character of El Topo is one of leaps rather than steps, in the end when he does return to his killing ways he is again forced to do it. Jodorowsky's performance does always work for Jodorowsky the director. His individual acting work, just like everyone else in the film, simply is part of the tapestry. Jodorowsky's work adds color, the right color in the fact through his portrayal of the different sides of El Topo, but never once does that small part of the picture seem more interesting than the whole. It is a solid performance by Alejandro Jodorowsky, which proves him capable of being both an actor and a director. In the end though it is his direction of the film that you remember after watching the film not his performance within in it.