• Conor Malcolm Crockford

    Kurt Russell is someone whose political affiliation I’ll overlook because gosh darn it its fucking Kurt Russell. He’s done some recent excellent work too with Bone Tomahawk, Death Proof, and The Hateful Eight. In the former and the latter he’s an actor who really feels as if he belongs to the 19th century, not the 21st.

    • That’s kind of how I feel. I discovered the libertarian thing as I was writing and thought, “Eh, he’s still Kurt Russell.”

      • Fresno Bob

        If I can still like Clint Eastwood, I can sure as hell still like Kurt Russell.

        • Kurt Russell, so far as I know, does not talk to furniture.

          • Fresno Bob

            And even if he did, I probably wouldn’t hold it against him.

    • thesplitsaber

      There are points in the beginning third of Bone Tomahawk where I swear the movie morphs around his charisma and just by being on screen he makes it a better movie.

  • Yuhaddabia “Big Shot” Dijna

    Just a quibble, but I would say that it was a few years earlier in Russell’s first collaboration with Carpenter on the Elvis TV biopic where Russell declared himself a grownup. I remember it was really well-received at the time, and Russell got a lot of praise for his performance, including being nominated for all the awards, which wasn’t the kind of attention he had been getting up till then.

    • I’ve been saying for years that I want him and Jodie Foster and a few others to teach a class where they help child stars grow up. “You don’t have to do drugs! Just make a movie where you do not-Disney things!”

      • thesplitsaber

        Id say the key for both of them was moving away from Hollywood while they were transitioning from child to adult in their personal life (i think this is a pretty common denominator for succeses at the child to adult acting transition).

  • thesplitsaber

    For me the most important part of Russel’s biography (and something that might illuminate the ‘acting is easy’ quote) is his attempt to become a pro baseball player in the early 70s. By all accounts he could have had a respectable career but was sidelined by an injury. After that he started bringing at least a self awareness, and at most a depth of identity, to his characters.

    His best performance in my opinion is Mcready in The Thing. The action hero bravado he used in his other Carpenter films is gone. Instead he plays everything straight and his loner at the end of the world character could fit in a non genre drama.

  • ZoeZ

    I watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 over the weekend, and it was such a pleasure to see him turn up and magnificently save the movie from Marvel’s recurring villain problem, and his outright charm is such a big part of that. Which also makes his work as MacCready even more impressive, because as @thesplitsaber:disqus points out, it’s such a controlled, locked-down performance. No showman there, just a competent, resourceful man running up against the edge of anyone’s ability to survive.

    • Belated Comebacker

      “The Thing” and “Alien” both deserve major kudos for providing competent people doing their best to survive in a horror movie, and failing. (Not because of dumb choices, but because the nature of the threat shifts, or because they don’t fully grasp the abilities of their opponent.)

    • thesplitsaber

      And you really do believe this is a guy willing to die. I think my favorite line Russels ever delivered is ‘…..because then id have to kill you Childs.’ Theres a sense of resignation to it, its not a boast or a threat, its a fact.

      As for Guardians, Russel pretty much saved the movie as it was. Without an actor that good in that role such an obvious twist would have been a slog to get to.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    I have this whole half-formed essay in my head about how his work with Carpenter is a case of a natural cowboy working with a wannabe Western director who was philosophically disinclined to make a real Western, and in fact are three variations on the same archetype:
    Escape From New York is a caricature of the cowboy. He takes the lone badass antihero, plays him exactly how Carpenter and Russell wish they could live, and turns him loose in the only absurd comic-book world he could live in.
    The Thing is a realistic cowboy. Like Snake, Mac is an anti-social loner badass, but not cartoonishly so; we run into men like MacReady all the time. He’s enough of a dick that we relate to him, not so much we wonder how the fuck he functions.
    Big Trouble In Little China is a parody of a cowboy, taking all the typical antihero cowboy ideas Carpenter and Russell love and playing them for laughs.

    • DJ JD

      Yeah, I’m in. Next time I watch one of those, I’ll try to keep that in mind.

  • DJ JD

    It kills me that he doesn’t seem to make the Great Big Actors A-list, because the man’s amazing. When I heard Tarantino gushing about him, I wanted to stand up and clap at the television screen. I think you hit the nail on the head, too–he picks genre fare and he doesn’t get all gushy about the Great Big Acting process, so he doesn’t quite hit the snobs’ list.

    I have a hard time picking out my favorite Russell role, but I suppose I’d probably point to his crooked, murderin’ cop in Dark Blue. He does such a great job with a character that more or less carries the movie: if you don’t buy the character, you won’t buy the plot. But not only does he sell the arc, he sells the whole character: his shallowness, his danger, his relentless dishonesty with himself, etc.

    • Don’t Call Me Here

      He does a lot of really good work, but I can see how he’s never going to be called Great. I think part of it is his natural John Wayne-like charisma obscuring the choices he makes and his technique.

      • The Ploughman

        Kind of an actor-versus-performer kind of distinction? I can see it.

      • thesplitsaber

        I think it comes down to the films-as great as he is he hasnt done a There Will Be Blood or a The Searchers.

    • thesplitsaber

      I think the best acting Russel’s ever done is in Dark Blue. Its a wordless scene of his character in a motel room just feeling the weight of everything hes done. Unfortunately the rest of the movie isnt up to that level.

      • DJ JD

        Going back to @disqus_s16c0Syk3X:disqus ‘s point, can you imagine how dreadful that movie would’ve been with a half-weight lead? Scott Stapp (err, Speedman) was wearing a “dead meat” sign from the first scene, Gleeson’s great of course but he has precisely one note to play in this tune, throwing to the Rodney King riots could’ve backfired spectacularly, etc. etc. etc.

        • thesplitsaber

          You know this comment got me to thinking-part of the reason Russell might not be consider as great as we seem to think is that so much of his career is elevating material. Tombstone, Dark Blue, Escape from New York even The Thing are movies that could be absolutely sunk with another actor in the lead.

          • DJ JD

            I think you’re definitely on to something there. What’s more, now your comment has me wondering if we’d remember Carpenter quite so fondly if he hadn’t connected with Russell in the first place. I mean, Halloween and They Live did just fine without him, but I can’t really imagine most of their partnerships working out nearly as well as they did without Russell carrying his weight on-screen and then some. I mean, I seriously can’t even wrap my head around the idea of a Russell-less Escape or Big Trouble.

  • Fresno Bob

    Can you imagine how insufferable Jack Burton would be if ANYONE ELSE played him? Instead, despite the fact that he’s an abrasive Ugly American, Burton is 100% lovable because Russell is playing him.