Thursday, December 14, 2006

Peter Boyle

So sorry to hear of Peter Boyle’s passing. Depending on the project, truly one of the funniest or scariest actors on the planet.

I had the pleasure of working with him when I directed EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. He was a pussycat but you were always on your toes. He would forever look at you like he knew something you didn’t. That could be very unnerving because at times he did, and other times he was doing that just to fuck with you.

Peter was a little challenging initially, trying to size me up. I’d come to expect that my first day directing a new cast. “Who is this skeesix and why does he think he can direct?”

(Quick aside: I was originally intimidated by big name feature actors. The day before I was to direct Malcolm McDowell I said to a friend, “This guy starred in CLOCKWORK ORANGE and now I’M telling him where to move?” to which he said, “Yeah, but he was also in CALIGULA.” )

The first scene I blocked with Peter took place in the backyard of Ray’s house (although still on the stage). There was to be a hamster funeral in the rain. The effects people had rigged the set for rain. The actors took their places and the First AD asked if I wanted to turn on the rain. I said no. We started working through the scene and at one point I gave Peter some minor direction. He didn’t do it. I asked him again. He still didn’t do it. I called out to the First AD, “Okay, turn on the rain just where Peter is standing! Nowhere else!” He laughed, did my suggestion, and we were great the rest of the time. I loved working with him...and learning from him.

His list of film credits is enormous and impressive. He’s probably best known for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN but my favorite, and one he was particularly proud of, was a little known movie called JOE. Netflix it if you can. Peter plays a foul-mouthed hippie-hating reactionary in the 60’s. It’s a chilling portrayal, far scarier than the similarly themed EASY RIDER.

The last few years I saw him he didn’t appear to be in great health. But you’d never know it by his performance or hard work in rehearsal.

When you list the great ones in television comedy: Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Phil Silvers, Dick Van Dyke, Sid Caesar, Bob Newhart, and a few others. Right at the top of that list put Peter Boyle.

I can’t believe he’s gone. Holy crap!


Anonymous said...

He was great in 'Young Frankenstein', I also remember him from 'Taxi Driver'

I read John Lennon was the best man at his wedding.

Cathie from Canada said...

He did a guest part on the X-Files that was the best episode that show ever did, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I met him once, working as a casting intern one summer in college in New York City. He came in, couldn't have been sweeter, and read for the voice of Viagra ("Let the dance begin.") He didn't get it, and I thought, Who the hell are these people, they're going with "this idiot actor" over Peter Boyle?

Howard Hoffman said...

Tailgunner Joe - Boyle absolutely channeled Joseph McCarthy and nailed him. I never thought anyone could be scarier than the original, but Boyle blew me away. That's another one to look for.


RossK said...

Joe - the Hyde to that crazy-cat cartoon Jekyl that was the ill-fated Carl Lazlo

Tom said...

He was also great alongside Bill Murray in ‘Where the Buffalo Roam’.

Anonymous said...

The Hamster episode of "Raymond" happened to be on WGN here in Chicago this past Monday evening.

Ironically was going to post about the episode yesterday morning because I had noted that you directed it and the scene in the rain at the funeral with Frank standing there holding the metal detector was just busting me up and then when he gets all blubbery over the hamster. Priceless.

Yes, first thing out of my mouth when I heard of his passing...Holy Crap.

Richard Cooper said...

Somewhere, up there, Peter is puttin' on the Ritz.

floretbroccoli said...

Aw, Joe is little-known? I always think of that movie when I think of Peter Boyle. I saw the film when I was, what, 13 years old? Seriously riveting and seriously disturbing!

I am not a fan of Everybody Loves Raymond, but I never saw Peter Boyle give a performance that was not worth watching.

Danny-K said...

"I am not a fan of Everybody Loves Raymond...",
- Floretbroccoli by that statement, you must be, in the truest and literal sense of the word - unique!

Not a fan of ELR? Pray tell, does such a creature exist?

But in the week we learn of Peter Boyle's passing, you are forgiven for not being a fan. (As long as you now make it your duty to become one, forthwith).

floretbroccoli said...

Isn't being a Peter Boyle fan good enough?

Anonymous said...

His passing is one of those things that reminds us "death sucks" (not to be trite)

Agree with cathyfromcanada - great XF episode, largely due to Boyle (and the writing).

I also liked him in Outland - I thought he was underated in that.

I wasn't that big on ELR either, but I watched it to see Boyle. He cracked me up everytime.

I'll always remember this one great scene where "Marie" (Doris Roberts) says something like, "Am I just a Trophy Wife to you?

And Boyle gives the perfect look of bewilderment and sarcasm, and replies, "What the hell kinda contest did I win?"


Anonymous said...

Actually, the line was "What contest in hell did I win?"

A former ELR staffer

Warren Fleece said...

Boyle's emmy winning episode of X-Files is, of course, on "the YouTube".

TubeSearch "Bruckman". He sees the future...

CLYDE BRUCKMAN: You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.

MULDER: Why are you telling me that?

CLYDE BRUCKMAN: Look, forget I mentioned it. It's none of my business.

Anonymous said...

After learning of Peter's passing, it was a though a member of the family was gone. I put myself in the show, and could see Marie and her sons preparing for the wake and funeral. With Robert's taking charge, and Ray ask to do the eulogy, and Marie worrying about what to feed the guests, and make sure she has her black.
Peter brought the character to life, and he made us life, and the gift of his humor, I thank him.
Rest in peace

Mike Barer said...

With the exception of Al Bundy, which was a farce no one had ever played that character (Ray's Dad) on prime time TV. It is so realistic.

Anonymous said...

"What contest in hell did I win?" Don't worry - Marie will sort it out with some catty remarks.

God bless him.