I mentioned a while back that I would be blogging about some of my favorite TV shows/movies and favorite actors in upcoming posts. I felt it was necessary to justify, if only to myself, what appeal television held when it was always at the bottom of my list of “productive” uses of my time.
Maybe it’s the sheer volume of weed that I have been smoking to bury the myriad health problems I have been experiencing, but in recent months I have been drawn to certain actors and shows/movies that fascinate me with their chameleon-like abilities as they tackle different roles and I even embrace reruns as a means to really absorb their performances. Weed is great for this, it allows one to really focus and, for lack of a better term, to get in the zone.
Today’s post stars no less than the inimitable Vincent D’Onofrio. Did Pyle from Full Metal Jacket come to mind?
If you haven’t seen D’Onofrio’s career turn as Private Pyle in this gritty Vietnam film, I won’t ruin it for you. Only to tell you that it is a must see. A overweight and highly impressionable young recruit joins the Marines and, due to the strains of basic training and the continued abuse at the hands of Drill Sergeant Hartman(the late great R. Lee Ermey) slides headlong and completely into Insanity. The end scene of the first of two parts is an ending I can’t in good conscience tell you. Let’s just say that you will never forget it. While starring in many memorable roles, Full Metal Jacket was Vincent’s first highly acclaimed role.
Early on, his resume consisted of some Broadway and bit parts. Despite his pending fame, he did notable work in supporting roles. Not the least of which was his role as Joe, the loveable lobster fisherman of 1988’s Mystic Pizza. While only a supporting role, I totally bought into his portrayal. The town of Mystic, CT is a real town but Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish were not residents. Perhaps I related to the film because it bears a striking resemblance to Gloucester, MA, a seaport community close to my home town known for fish, struggling fishermen and class warfare. The hardscrabble working folk go about their lives while the much larger wealthy class go about theirs. Of course, in Mystic Pizza, there is a clash of cultures but our hero Joe is not engaged in it. Instead, he makes you believe in the working class hero who gets up early, drinks beer with his buddies and loves only one woman, he named his boat after her, with a passion. If you like the working man, D’onofrio delivers.
In 2000, D’Onofrio starred in what I think is one of the most visually stunning and remarkably innovative horror movies ever in The Cell. He portrays a very disturbed serial killer who enters a coma and Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Lopez actually enter his dreams to solve his latest abduction. This movie is a must see. Again, it is visually stunning, there just aren’t better words to describe it.
After being nominated for an Emmy for a guest role as a police officer on a now cancelled show, D’Onofrio was offered the role of Detective Goren on Law and Order, Criminal Intent. This was a role that would make him a watercooler name for almost a decade. Quirky, brilliant with a Columbo-esque way of appearing obtuse only to “oh-by-the-way-there-is-one-more-thing” his unsuspecting suspects. Without stating it, I always felt there was a suggestion of highly functional autism in his role. Detective Goren is highly well-read, educated and worldly, and cynical as the day is long. A student of Psychology such as myself can’t get enough of a character such as Goren. He always gets the bad guy and they spend their respective jail terms wondering how he figured them out. He never expresses pleasure or hubris when he solves a case, he just moves onto the next perp, with a perpetual sadness about him.
While I can’t possibly cover his entire filmography, I chose these roles because of course they are my favorites. I chose Vincent D’Onofrio for my first nod because these, and many other roles, have influenced me and stayed with me.
Isn’t that what a good actor does?
Stay tuned for more in my “Stoned Studio” series. LOL, I love that name I may have to use it!