Everything Else Random Thoughts — 09 August 2010
Character Actor of the Week: Crispin Glover

There are certain actors whose names alone have negative connotations.  One such name, befitting of the character actor variety is Crispin Glover.  Glover, who began his career at the age of 13, has appeared in countless films, many of which show off his extremely quirky and sometimes off-putting personality.

It would be quite pretentious of me to begin this article without speaking first about the film that made Glover’s career, “Back to the Future.”  Glover’s George Mcfly is a prime example of an actor fully immersing himself in a role.  George Mcfly is seen through most of the film as a gigantic loser, and not of the lovable variety.  He is constantly abused at every turn by the film’s main villain Biff Tannen, first in the present (1985), and then in the past (1955).

Mcfly is literally a sweaty mess, stammering his way through praises of love for Larraine Baines and Glover’s immersion into the character is a complete metamorphosis- the two can simply not be separated.  As a result the audience feels uncomfortable watching him fumble throughout the whole film.  The awkward feeling later helps us root for him, when he finally wins.  And, because we took this long journey with him the payoff is ultimately rewarding.

The downside of the instant success of “Back to the Future” led Glover to make one of the biggest mistakes of his career, demanding a pay raise to return for the sequel, and sadly he was denied.  Not only did he not appear in Part 2, but he was replaced by a lookalike named Jeffery Weissman.  Also to add insult to financial injury the film-makers used stock footage of Glover for any scenes that needed close ups.

Throughout his career, Glover’s film choices have been relatively random to say the least.  About a year before “Back to the Future,” Glover accepted a role in Part IV of the successful Friday The 13th film series, “The Final Chapter.”  Only in the film, Glover plays Jimbo Anderson, a loser almost identical to George Mcfly.  If you have not yet seen the film, it is a must see, because it is one of the better “Jason” movies, and for the completely ridiculous dance scene as well.  Glover pulls off one of the most memorably weird dance scenes in movie history.  It is both extremely funny and demented at the same time.  Glover is second to only Kevin Bacon for actual celebrities to appear in the Friday The 13th series.

In July of 1987 Glover made his now infamous appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman.”  The appearance is known mainly for the actor’s erratic demeanor.  Whenever Letterman would ask him a direct question, Glover would answer in a gargled, odd way.  This continued throughout the segment, to the great displeasure of Letterman, and it all ended with a shock as Glover stood up and delivered a kick inches from Dave.  This caused Letterman to quickly abandon the segment, and storm off camera.  It was later revealed that Glover was attempting to pull an Andy Kaufman style stunt.  But Letterman never found it funny, thus keeping him off the show for a number of years.

Above all, Glover is an eccentric, and he will never stop being so, which I find absolutely refreshing.  In an industry filled with carbon copy leading men and goofy comedic leads, we need a man like Crispin Glover, who marches to the beat of his own drummer in a major way.  Glover is still working today albeit in a somewhat limited capacity.  Glover can be seen in the recent comedy hit, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” playing an odd hotel bellhop.  In this minor role, we can see Glover playing up his well known weirdness with a wink and a nod to the audience. Since the film involves time travel back to the 80’s, we interpret this as Glover giving back to all the people who supported him then, and made him into the infamously weird, yet entertaining actor he is today.  I for one will see anything this man makes- he is truly a unique character actor.

-  Alan Smithee

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