“Character actors! Who gives a f*ck if we’re fat?” – Patton Oswalt, quoting Brian Dennehy
*Spoilers for True Detective, Season 1; Hannibal, Season 3*
(This post will contain some pretty dark content – trigger warning for entertainment that involves harming children and mentally handicapped people – Proceed with caution!)
Forgive my hyperbole, but character actors must be some of the most patient, most compassionate people on the planet.
I say that because last year, I watched HBO’s amazing inaugural season of True Detective. It is magnificent, incredible, it’s filmmaking greatness, from the production value to the performances to the characterizations. It’s just the bees’ knees and the kitten’s britches, and it is ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR EVERYONE because of the disturbing content. Seriously, I was disturbed for weeks after I shotgunned it over a period of 3 days.
One thing I couldn’t get out of my head was character actor Glenn Fleshler’s portrayal of the villain.
There’s a moment when the TD villain, a back-country inbred janitor with a scarred face, unusual size and strength, and a penchant for molesting and murdering little girls, relaxes at home. He watches some TV, which he responds to in a variety of voices (Fleshler’s voice has an amazing range and ability to mimic), then he has sex with his possibly mentally handicapped sister-wife, while still doing the voices.
As you can imagine, this totally put me in the mood for a July 4th barbecue where I would be surrounded by my (now ex) boyfriend’s coworkers, most of whom we didn’t know and whom I realized I had nothing in common with after trying to chat with them for over two hours. I was ready to party, and by party I mean have some kind of existential nervous breakdown.
Anyway, I’m all right now and going to pick up the Season 1 DVD soon and watch it again since I am mentally more prepared. I haven’t watched Season 2 yet since I don’t have HBO but I’m curious if it’ll cause the same kind of spiritual collapse as the first season. Time will tell!
I just need to take my hat off to Mr. Fleshler’s performance. I did start to wonder what it must be like to be an actor pursuing your dream in a nontraditional career full of gambles, where you get contacted about a part and find out it’s this sort of thing.
A friend of mine is a talent coordinator for a voice talent agency and I asked her about that the other day at a party. She said they try to handle it very professionally, even a little obtusely.
The Correct Way to Handle It:
- “Hi! We have a part we think you’d be interested in. It’s very out there and we think you’re creative and talented enough to make it work. Interested?”
The Incorrect Way to Handle It:
- We have this part we think you would be perfect for, we need someone deeply offputting to play a child molester who ritually murders his victims, is into incest in a big sloppy way, and will make the viewer lose all faith in humanity. Nothing about this guy is human and he should give everyone the willies, if not make them want to burn their television set with cleansing fire. Interested?
I fully recognize that Mr. Fleshler is not the characters he portrays, and as an artist has a wide range, bags of charisma, and probably a very vivid imagination. I expect he is also highly professional. I am also confident that were I ever to meet him in real life I would go through a 5-minute decompression thought process of “GGRAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!” before I could have a normal conversation with him. I wonder if this is something he and other brilliant character actors get all the time?
Mr. Fleshler is currently playing the character of Cordelle on season 3 of Hannibal, acting as Mason Verger’s caregiver. I cannot think of a more perfect role for him. I recognized the voice before the face, and by “recognized” I mean “fell into terrified crisis.”
I cannot wait to see what else the future holds for him and I wish him all the best with his career! He will certainly go far!