Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Excellent Character Actor

Even though I'm in the middle of watching Werner Herzog's epic tale of a stoic strongman in Germany at the onset of World War II, Invincible (2001), I wanted to take a moment and point out how great Udo Kier is at playing the creepy, mysterious man in films. Despite only uttering a handful of lines in many of the films he appears in, Kier steals every scene he's in with his piercing and disturbing gaze. The speech he delivers in Invincible, where he critiques the Nazi's lack of style to Joseph Goebbels, perfectly captures how many Germans must have felt about the Fascist party. Another of his surprisingly memorable acting turns for me is as the wealthy businessman in one of my favorite films from my youth, Tom Shadyac's ridiculous Jim Carrey vehicle Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994). Kier's brief appearance onscreen left a distinct impression with me even though his character served no real purpose to the overarching story line of the film.

This line from, Paul Morrisey's cult 1974 vampire film, Blood for Dracula, exemplifies how Kier delivers the cheesiest lines with the utmost sincerity.

Here is another ridiculous scene from an excellent Gus Van Sant film, 1993's My Own Private Idaho, where Kier forgoes all subtly to create a bizarre moment that has typified his acting career.

Simply put, Kier may never be considered an excellent actor in the vein of young Al Pacino or Marlon Brando, but he is a great character actor who will pop up in the oddest film at the oddest moment.

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