Opinion

29 Unsung Heroes

Finally we pay a long overdue tribute to those unrecognised and under-appreciated characters. Run the Oscars obituary style tape…

  1. Danny Trejo

    The 67-year-old former inmate could easily be dismissed as “just another Mexican bit part actor”. But that neglects two key facts. First, he was born in LA. Second: his unrivalled cache of pure, snarling Latino gravitas. With a face like a pâté frisbee, and a voice like someone determinedly stretching old leather, he offers the kind of instant movie pedigree that Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez et al have happily exploited for the last twenty years. And now, games like GTA and Call Of Duty. Danny? We gringos salute you. 

  2. Jeffrey Weissman

    Otherwise undistinguished as a jobbing actor – the 54-year-old’s other career highpoint was a walk-on on Saved By The Bell – Weissman excelled himself with one amazing role: as George McFly in Back to the Future II and III. After Crazy Old Crispin Glover turned down the pay packet to reprise his role, it meant Weissman spent a gruelling shoot in heavy prosthetics and sunglasses, usually shot from behind or even upside down. Altogether: “there’s no business like show business…”

  3. The red wire

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    It’s never the blue wire, is it? Oh no, whenever there’s a terrorist plot to blow up the UN/undersea base/President’s face, there’s only one tiny connecting cord that’s to blame. And just one who’s about to get decapitated, even though he’s just doing his job as a simplistic visual conceit. More evidence that Hollywood is racist.

  4. Eugene Levy’s eyebrows

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    Possibly the only truly compelling subplot of the entire American Pie franchise: the tentative caterpillar romance blossoming right there on Jim’s dad’s forehead. So distracting is their timid, bushy mating dance that they should really have their own spinoff Pie. Because this will-they-won’t-they flirtation is killing us.

  5. Toad

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    AKA Guy With The Mushroom On His Head. Throughout Nintendo’s Mario franchise, Toad has not simply overcome a confusing name and unfashionable purple waistcoat. No, he’s also sacrificed countless fellow citizens of his Mushroom Kingdom – simply to help Mario power-up his way through several priapic quests to rescue the Princess. And without a word of Italian-accented thanks, either. Worse, in Mario Kart, he’s even forced to cannibalise his own kind. We take our non-fungal hat off to you. 

  6. Harrison Ford’s arsehole

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    Criminally overlooked by the Academy is the role of Ford’s ringpiece in creating a classic cinema scene: the confrontation with the swordsman in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. It was originally choreographed as complicated hand-to-hand combat, wherein Indy would use his whip to disarm the scimitar blah blah. But when dysentery plagued the filming in Kairouan, Tunisia, Ford’s hairy hoop had other creative ideas. And when Ford stepped out onto set to film the fight, his poor, abused sphincter gave out. One hasty wardrobe change later, and Ford – now on the brink of dysenteric collapse – agreed with Spielberg to simply shoot the swordsman instead. Et voila: movie history, framed though a brown eye.

  7. Russell Brand’s agent

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    How else is this unfunny vaudevillian throwback still on our screens? Let’s just recap his early career. Channel 4 Comedy Lab pilot: not commissioned. Big Brother’s Big Mouth: shook off half its viewers in the first week he took over. 1 Leicester Square: dumped from primetime to the prestigious 10pm-on-a-Monday-night slot halfway through series one. Russell Brand’s Got Issues:  vast ad campaign fails to persuade anyone to watch him and Lily Allen bleat about how terrible being famous is. And yet despite this massive public indifference, he’s still uniformly proclaimed ‘the next big thing’  – with each fuck up rewarded with a progressively bigger gig. A pattern that continues to this day (Arthur – Jesus, can someone open a window?). Whee-oo: somebody’s earning their 20%.

  8. The ravens in Game of Thrones

    True: throughout the five books, George R. R. Martin instilled the birds with rich symbolism, as well as quasi-magical powers in Bran’s dreams. But for anyone who just watches the TV show, all you need to know is without them delivering messages, you wouldn’t have your weekly dose of incest, tits and nauseating violence. 

  9. The word “enhance”

    Brave, plucky “enhance” – single-handedly taking the plot strain of 1,000 TV police procedurals. Usually when scriptwriters a) can’t be bothered explaining the technological intricacies of boosting video surveillance quality, or b) realise it’s 5pm on a Friday and fuck it, that’ll do. 

  10. Taika Waititi’s Twitter feed

    One of the funniest director’s working today. His profile says “Bespoke tweets hand-crafted from locally sourced vintage dickhead”. Bodes well for Thor Ragnarok…


  11. Stevie Janowski

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    “I’m so drunk I feel retarded!” Kenny Powers’s goofy sidekick/disciple is the glue that binds Eastbound and Down. Albeit a glue that resembles a human hybrid of Droopy the Dawg and Sloth from The Goonies

  12. The MGM lion

    “Raawwwrrr. Raaawwrrr. RRAAWWWRR… cough how was that, darlings? Was I ‘king of the jungle’ enough for you? Oh stop – you’ll make me blush! Now I know money’s tight at MGM – but, er, any chance of some money? I haven’t actually had a paycheque since the late 1950s…”

  13. Dr Leo Spaceman

    Meet the man who saved 30 Rock. Not to be mistaken for Dr Spaceman – that’s his dad – Leo is a man unhindered by a moral compass, choosing instead the path of ‘trying anything in the name of modern science’.  He is listed under Meth Addiction and Child Psychiatry, but he can’t help you conceive – “something happened to me while scuba diving”.

  14. Bubastis

    AKA the genetically-modified pet lynx who appears at the end of Watchmen – where he lives in an arctic biosphere and says ‘grawwwr?’ just before getting atomised. As mythical feline cameos go, that’s pretty sweet. 

  15. Ron Howard’s cap

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    Instant dignity when on, when off just a man with a ginger balding pate. Fresh air to Howard’s head is his kryptonite. For proof, see his brother Clint: whose main claim to fame is being out-acted by a bear.

  16. Wadsworth

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    The sarcastic comedy robot butler of Fallout 3, without whom the entire game would be too apocalyptically depressing for words. Sample joke: “I once visited a crematorium where they gave discounts to burn victims.” See? Hi-lair.

  17. Michael Fassbender’s penis

    You’re thinking we’re referring to its numerous scene-stealing cameos in Shame, yes? Incorrect. It also once rescued several kids from a burning nursery school. Just doesn’t like to talk about it. 

  18. Xander Harris

    The Ron Weasley of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: a neat package of quips and exposition. Except without the ginger hair. And with an eyepatch. Clever switch, Whedon – clever.

  19. John Goodman

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    Not just for consistently flying in the face of basic health advice for forty years; he also never got the credit for being the best bit in The Big Lebowski. And we seem to remember he once slept with Roseanne Barr. Heroic? That’s super human.

  20. Latex

    Oh vulcanized emulsion of polymer microparticles – where would we be without your prosthetic talents? We’ll tell you where: a Federation without believable Klingons, that’s where. A Gotham without the Joker’s scarred mouth. A Boogie Nights without the swinging money shot. Although to be fair, it’d also be a world without Mrs Doubtfire. Or Battlefield Earth. Or White Chicks. Gah, Latex: what you giveth with one rubbery hand, you taketh away with the other. 

  21. Damon Baird

    Sure, he’s kind of the runt of Gears Of War. The Ringo Starr of Delta Squad, if you will. But admit it: he does 70% of the legwork, and has rescued your miserable behind several times when you’ve dropped the controller to retrieve a Dorito. And could you have fixed the Hammer Of Dawn on your own? Could you? Well then.

  22. Glenn Morshower

    Cornered the market in stern, glowering, baldy-ginger mid-level military types. Basic dialogue: “Commsat shows multiple strikes Mr President.”

  23. Gregory Itzin

    Primary source of unctuous, permanently-flustered political sleaze. Basic dialogue: “Just make sure he’s dead. If this gets out, we’re all finished.”

  24. Mark Boone Junior

    Chris Nolan’s go-to chubby, vice-riddled, backstabbed henchman. Basic dialogue: “Look, I don’t know where the drugs are – I swear to God!”

  25. Mark Margolis

    Casting a CSI? Need a stare-y, grouchy landlord as suspect? You’re in luck! Basic dialogue: “Listen to me you fuck. I had nothing to do with that bitch.”

  26. Bill Cobbs

    Wise and possibly magic old black man. Bill Cosby’s non-union equivalent. Basic dialogue: “You’ll have to find the answer inside yesself, child.”

  27. Sheb Wooley

    Officially, he’s the actor/singer best known for 1958 novelty song ‘The Purple People Eater’, or as scout Pete Nolan in TV’s Rawhide. Unofficially? He was the voice actor brought in to record the sound effect “Man being eaten by alligator” for the 1951 movie Distant Drums. Which would have gone unnoticed, had sound designer Ben Burtt not rediscovered his gut-wrenching scream on an old tape reel – and nostalgically inserted it into Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And then, subsequently, pretty much every Lucas or Spielberg movie. And lo: the Wilhelm Scream was born – a cinematic in-joke that has since appeared in over 170 films and games, including all three Lord Of the Rings, Toy Story and Red Dead Redemption.

  28. Val Kilmer

    Unsungly heroic for many, many reasons. Not least for cameoing as Elvis in True Romance, for once knocking out the Cruiser in a fistfight on the Top Gun set; and for generally refusing to compromise as his career slid down the back of the toilet. But mainly? Because right now, he’s this fat – and the lack of fucks being given is simply astounding.

  29. The minigun in Predator

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    But only if the predator in question is “trees”.

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