Sunday, February 10, 2008

Roy Scheider, 1932-2008

A guy like Roy Scheider is the kind of underrated talent that never really gets their due in Hollywood, even as they hold movies together through the simple power of their charm and dependability. Everyone remembers Robert Shaw's salty seadog in Jaws and his Indianapolis monologue, but it's Scheider who grounds the movie and brings the audience in, a trickier job than it looks.

In addition to Scheider's classic performance as Brody in Jaws and his solid supporting roles in films from The French Connection to Naked Lunch, he got to shine as Bob Fosse, er, 'Joe Gideon' in Fosse's All That Jazz, one of the great charismatic jerks of the 1970s.

Scheider had a long, sturdy career and he'll be missed as an underrated contributor to several classic films.


Erik G. said...

And lest we forget his work on SeaQuest DSV!

cjkennedy said...

In a way, Dreyfuss is even more technically "memorable" than Scheider because Scheider is so damn understated, but you're right that Scheider grounds the movie. And he hast to because the movie is pretty ridiculous when you think about it.


Jeff McMahon said...

Exactly, and I think one of the least-recognized and most important abilities in movie acting is to accept and take seriously things that are, on the set, completely ludicrous. In Jaws, we all know that the shark didn't work, that it looked stupid up close, etc., but when Scheider delivers the reaction to seeing it and the line "we need a bigger boat" he completely sells the line with total gravity and weight. Spielberg was smart to keep us from seeing the shark, but once we do, it's Scheider who makes us actually believe in it.

Jeff McMahon said...

Erik, when did you change your name to Glemetti?

cjkennedy said...

There's also something impressive I think about people who can play 'regular people' very well. I have a theory that it's easy to play the freaks and the retards or the roles with showy histrionics, but to be captivating with an everyman character is something else.

Jeff McMahon said...

Well said, and it's something that seems to be even rarer these days. We have Tom Hanks who can pull that off, and who else?

Nicol DuMoulin said...

I agree.

Scheider was actually one of my favourite character actors and pseudo leading men. Ironically enough, the night he died, I just finished watching an old tape of 52Pick Up. That is largely a forgotten film but one that I always liked because it was one of the first R rated films I saw in the theatre, even though I was still underage.

I think it is one of his forgotten gems. It revels in sleeze enough to actually give it a real feeling but doesn't push it too much. Sort of in the same vein as To Live and Die in LA.

He will be missed.