You remember in 1994 when John Travolta appeared as hip gangster hitman “Vincent Vega” in Pulp Fiction? Remember how it revitalized his career, bringing him back to the spotlight and letting us begin to believe him as something more than a pretty face who could dance? Suddenly, he was able to pass as dark, quirky, and potentially even a badass in the right light (see Get Shorty, Face/Off, Michael, etc.). It took something special though. Not just the role, but the overall vibe of the movie. It took the class and edge that directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers bring to their features. It’s not like Travolta didn’t have it in him all along — clearly he did. But he needed the right opportunity.
Inspired by a conversation earlier this evening, I present my picks for actors that I believe deserve a John-Travolta-in-Pulp-Fiction style career resurgence. Someone give these guys a chance to reinvent themselves and return to the spotlight! I believe they’ve got it in them!
- Paul Hogan
Yes, Crocodile Dundee himself. I realize that maybe he was more of a 1980’s curiosity and one-trick pony, but he was charming as hell. And though he must be way up there now (in his 70’s?), I feel like he’s got potential as a charming but menacing Bond villain or mob boss. Someone get on that. Time’s a-wastin’!
- Erik Estrada
My love for Erik Estrada can be traced back to CHiPs and was in fact the subject of my very first blog post on MySpace many years ago. I was briefly hopeful of a resurgence when he appeared in that great Butthole Surfers video in ’96. Thought maybe he was getting hip again, but no such luck. I just fucking love this guy. He should be in every movie.
- Emilio Estevez
Man, remember Breakfast Club and Young Guns? This guy had just as much charisma as his brother or anyone else in the so-called “Brat Pack.” There’s no reason Tom Cruise should be starring in these blockbusters year after year while we don’t hear a peep from Emilio.
- Ralph Macchio
Perhaps “quirky badass” isn’t the direction to go here, but still, there must be something more we could be doing with Ralph Macchio. It’s not like all his mega-appeal just suddenly dried up after the Karate Kid trilogy. Couldn’t he find a place in a mob story or something?
- Robyn Lively
Well since we’re talking about Karate Kid, ever since part 3 I’ve wanted to see more of Robyn Lively. That’s all.
- Michael Keaton
After Batman and Beetlejuice and several others through the early 90’s, he was all over the place. Since then, it’s been all small parts or at least he’s been off my radar. He’s totally ripe for a comeback, and as a real psycho too. He used to do that well, and I bet he’d make an excellent brooding villain, assassin, or something of that ilk.
- Tim Curry
He seems to be doing fine, but I think he’s vastly underutilized. Look at Legend or It or Rocky Horror. Aside from being one of my favorite actors, he has a natural creepiness that could be put to such great use. I feel he’s being wasted on kids stuff these days, though that may well be by choice.
- Jeff Goldblum
I know he’s been getting some work on television, and it’s not like Jurassic Park was that long ago, but still… Jeff Goldblum has a thing that only he does. The same way Christopher Walken has a thing. This thing Jeff’s got, well I’d like to see more of it.
- Clancy Brown
Most memorable to me as the vicious Kurgan in The Highlander, his unusual look and sound have lent their talents to bit parts over the years, but I feel like he could really break out if given a central role — maybe paradoxically as an anti-hero — in a more serious film. Why not? The Highlander also introduced us to Chrisopher Lambert, who deserves honorable mention on this list. Besides Highlander and Greystoke, I don’t really know his work. But he was very entertaining in those. Bring him back too, please!
- Tony Ganios
I always relate to him as my first greaser role model through playing match-chewing “Perry” in The Wanderers, but he also appeared in the Porky’s movies and a few others. I understand he’s retired from acting, and that’s too bad. He had (and has?) more potential than we ever got to see him use.
Surely I’m forgetting some great actors and actresses, but these are the ones that occurred to me immediately. Any other suggestions?