In many ways being cast as Dick Jones in RoboCop was as big a break in my career as being cast as Drew in Deliverance. Let me explain: Drew was the good guy, the moral one, and because of that, for the next ten or fifteen years, I was cast in “boy scout” good guy roles. Producers and directors, and studio executives in film business tend to typecast. And since Drew was the sensitive “moral“ one, it became a bit of an albatross for me. You see, if you play a character with “sensitivity”, that nearly always gets equated with weak or soft, so if there was a role with any “balls” I seemed never to get it. It was really frustrating for me. I’ve been an athlete all my life… tennis player, a marathoner and the four of us did all the canoeing in Deliverance. So you can see why I was mystified at being known as a “soft actor”… and why I was thrilled when cast as Dick Jones in RoboCop.
I try to be a good person in my ordinary everyday life, but it’s no fun playing the clean-cut, good guy all the time. Those guys make the right and predictable choice almost every time. Boring!! I liken it to painting: the good guy gets three colors – red, white, and blue. But the bad guy gets the whole palette… and those roles are way more fun to play. The most fascinating characters are nearly always the bad guys.
I have always wanted to play the whole gamut … good guys, bad guys, and everything in between. Some actors like being typecast. There’s comfort in playing a character that’s a slight variation of a guy they’ve played before. That has zero appeal to me…and because of that, the actors I admire most are the guys who play “character” as opposed to persona. I’ve done my damndest to carve out a career without getting pigeonholed. I want to play someone as far removed from me as possible. A lot of actors, when talking about their character, refer to that character as “me”. I’ve heard them say…“I did this or I did that.” That would never occur to me. It’s always he. “He does it,” because his actions have little or nothing to do with me. Oh, sure… eventually, the character moves out of my impulses… but there are a thousand other details that I’m having to deal with, (hitting my mark for the camera crew, being there for my fellow actors, and of always being aware of the rhythm of the scene)…. getting caught up in me, me, me can doom the scene… and, in my estimation, the movie.