Monday, February 22, 2016
Hire the villain
It’s been my experience that actors who can play interesting compelling bad guys generally can also get laughs. Not sure why. Maybe they just have to work harder to take an unlikable or clichéd character and breathe some fresh new life into them. I dunno. This is my own half-baked theory based on nothing but my own observations.
Nick Colasanto was a mob guy in RAGING BULL before becoming the Coach on CHEERS. He shot a lot of gunsels in his early acting days.
How many scary dudes did Anthony Anderson portray before spreading mirth in BLACKISH?
Gene Hackman: Oscar winning bad guy in UNFORGIVEN, very amusing bad guy as Lex Luthor in SUPERMAN (the good one with Christopher Reeve; not the last dreadful dirge).
Christoph Waltz was both terrifying and hilarious in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.
When I first saw ROBOCOP, which at the time (1987) was a little underground hit, I was entranced by an actor I had never seen before – Kurtwood Smith. He played Clarence and was so deliciously evil I made a vow that someday I wanted to work with him.
Sure enough, six years later we were casting BIG WAVE DAVE’S for CBS and needed an ex-pat who was mysterious, larger-than-life, and funny. We asked for Kurtwood Smith. The network was a little hesitant because he primarily was known for drama. He had also played the strict father in DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY by that point. But no one could deny he scored in his reading and he got the part. I was thrilled.
And he exceeded our wildest expectations. Unfortunately, our show was short-lived, but Kurtwood went on to play the dad in THAT 70s SHOW.
So I tip my cap to the screen villains. Sure you murder and destroy lives and property. Sure, if you had your way you’d rule the world after blowing half of it up. But all is forgiven if you can get solid laughs. And many of you do.