Sadly passing away last week, Michael Parks was a character actor cherished by fans of the often off-kilter films he featured in.
His stare heightened his presence, and he stole every scene he was in, turning supporting roles into characters more memorable than their marketable counterparts. He could be menacing, nonchalant and feverish in the same exemplary monologue, and his greatest roles couldn’t have been performed by anyone else.
Below are five roles that showcase his undeniable talent.
Article by Jordan
Seen in Blood Father, 2016
Preacher is the prototype fatherly figure patriarch-turned greedy, grubby villain we’ve come to expect from films the ilk of Blood Father (grungy road/revenge titles where the only thing louder than the sound of the engines is the gunfire), and if there is one force-of-nature actor who can hold his own against a returning Mel Gibson, its Michael Parks.
A role for: the too-few who saw this at the cinema
Seen in Twin Peaks, 1990 – 1991
Although still instilled with some outstanding moments of chilling/surreal television (such as the pitch-perfect reveal of Laura Palmer’s killer), season 2 of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s seminal series is often maligned for some outlandish sub-plots and characters. Thankfully, Parks’ appearances as vengeful French Canadian drug trafficker Jean Renault with a vendetta against the show’s protagonist are plentiful enough to sustain entire story threads, and the inescapable sense of danger he permeates is thrilling and always entertaining. Plus, the accent is great.
A role for: the completionists and Lynchians.
3. Howard Howe
Seem in Tusk, 2014
Tusk is a terrible film, but that’s Kevin Smith’s fault. As the mysterious, psychotic and gleefully sarcastic old seafarer Howard Howe, Michael Parks carries himself, and his scenes, with the type of power reserved for a much better (though equally strange) story. His reaction to his own ‘brown recluse’ lie and the way in which he projects his dialogue like a man from a bygone era are treats for his fans to cherish:
“Well, I became acquainted with a walrus when I was lost at sea”
A role for: the die-hards and walrus enthusiasts
2. Abin Cooper
Seen in Red State, 2011
Much to its credit, Red State is pretty well impossible to categorise or predict, ensuring that the viewer either leave with a high degree of satisfaction, or part way through because it’s entirely not what they paid for. Sure, there’s John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Kevin Pollack (for a short time, anyway), but this is a small-scale tale centred around the incendiary, devastating Abin Cooper; Parks’ mightiest, scene-chewing performance.
A role for: those who like surprises
1. Earl McGraw
Seen in From Dusk till Dawn, Kill Bill, Grindhouse
From Dusk till Dawn is a film defined by two distinct half’s, with the first itself defined by the sunburnt mannerisms and mini-monologues of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, who in his one opportunity sets up an experience far better than it really ought to be. McGraw would return in further Tarantino and Rodriguez films with, the two talented directors not wasting their chance to better their already great films with a character played by one of the finest character actors of his generation.
A role for: the binge-watchers and pop culture aficionados