A Belated Farewell: Roy Scheider (1932-2008)

February 15, 2008


Roy, you always were one of the coolest guys on the big screen. No matter what movie you appeared in, your scenes would always stand out, even if the rest was complete shite. You had that ‘70s naturalism thing that made you utterly believable no matter what the hell was going on around you. You were the world-weary, life-hardened everyman that grounded movies like Jaws and Blue Thunder and gave them some emotional resonance. Without you, they’d’ve simply drifted into silly escapism.

 And you got to do such cool stuff. You ran with Gene Hackman in The French Connection. You got to bed down Ann Margaret in 52 Pick-Up (back in the days when neither you nor Elmore Leonard were getting any respect). You went to head-to-head with Malcolm McDowell in a helicopter dogfight above L.A. (the fantasy of any normal adolescent boy). You got pimp out Jane Fonda in Klute. You got to unravel the mysteries of the Star Child in 2010. Hell, you even got to dive into the phantasmagoria of drugs and debauchery with Peter Weller in The Naked Lunch (and what a freakin’ reveal at the end of the movie—you played like Bob Fosse’s more evil twin).

 They don’t make them like you anymore, amigo. No more lean, rangy guys with New York attitudes and broken noses. They’re all pretty boys, now. All professionally-tousled hair and personal-trainer-toned bodies. Yeah, they can throw a choreographed punch, but they could never pull off the scene in Jaws between Brody and his son at the dinner table: “Give us a kiss.” “Why?” “cuz I need one…okay, get lost.” That’s fatherhood, right there.

 So long, Roy. Movies aren’t going to be the same without you. Wherever you are, I hope you have a bigger boat.


One comment

  1. I appreciated his nose. By the way, Naked Lunch is the only Cronenberg movie I’ve seen that I actually liked, and Dr. Benway was a big part of the enjoyment. Of course, I stopped trying to watch them after Existenz.

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