Proclivity towards ethnically diverse gangster roles.
Theater has had a major influence on his career.
Strongly influenced by Gary Cooper and Charles Laughton.
Consistently demonstrates a remarkably brave and challenging choice of roles (i.e., Dog Day Afternoon, Cruising, Angels in America).
An idiosyncratic adherence to the Method approach to acting.
Skill may partially lie in his ability to entirely lose the mindset and/or forget minute details of previous roles (e.g., he claims to continually forget how to load, unload, and strip a gun despite doing it in dozens of roles).
Former years marked by roles of inward intensity (a common feature of talented, driven, and hungry actors).
In latter years, he has shown a preference for more explosive roles (perhaps the consequence of playing several taxing roles early on).
Tendency towards introspection and rumination.
He took a nearly 5 year sabbatical from the screen after the critical and commercial failure of Revolution (1985).