THEN: Back in 1985, there was a young actor born in Indiana that caught Hollywood’s eye. He was handsome, charismatic and pretty darn talented. He was featured in a two part episode of the hit series “The Facts of Life” and soon after, a director by the name of John Hughes cast him as one of the antagonist – alongside Robert Downey Jr. – in WEIRD SCIENCE. The actor soon got the chance to audition for another familiar name, director Wes Craven for a little movie called A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET… He didn’t get the part.
Of course, after WEIRD SCIENCE became a hit, young Robert Rusler was soon cast in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. Looking back on this film, the homoerotic moments were many, and it has become notorious for that. You could say that the FREDDY’S REVENGE was one of the first “gay horror films” for a number of reasons. You’ve got the S & M leather bar gym teacher and that uber-kinky shower scene, and you’ve got the best friend bond between Rusler and the film’s leading man Mark Patton. The two actors are quite memorable – as is the oh so cute Kim Myers – that some look at this sequel as a sort of a metaphor for coming out of the closet.
Either way you look at it, Rusler was pretty great in the role. His “victim” was surprisingly likable for this kind of character. And thankfully, he brought his charm to a number of other roles throughout the mid to late 80’s. There was a little bit of thriller action with then actor John Stockwell (who is currently a director of such flicks as BLUE CRUSH, INTO THE BLUE and TURISTAS) in DANGEROUSLY CLOSE in 1986. That same year, he and Josh Brolin got their skate on in the rival skateboarding gang flick THRASHIN’. And if that wasn’t enough, he starred opposite Annabeth Gish, Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda in 1989 with the rockin’ and rollin’ comedy drama SHAG.
For all you horror lovin’ fiends out there, I saved the best for last. Grace Jones! Stripping Vampires! Years before Quentin Tarantino gave us FROM DUSK TILL DAWN in 1996, ten years before in 1986 Rusler starred in the horror comedy VAMP. If you’ve never experienced this awesomely cool flick you are doing yourself a serious disservice. This fun movie also starred Chris Makepeace (MY BODYGUARD) and the adorably cute sister to Michelle, Dedee Pfeiffer. Rusler really had a chance to shine here, and while he meets up with Jones freaked out vampire early on, for me he pretty much steals the picture.
Throughout the years, he has worked quite often and even spent a little more time in the world of horror and science fiction. He appeared in a number of episodes of “Babylon 5” in 1994 and 1995. He got to show off his tough side in the Stephen King based TV Movie “Sometimes They Come Back” in 1991. He even visited the famous horror residence of Amityville in “Amityville: A New Generation” in the not-so-super 1993 sequel of sorts. Sure many of his appearances weren’t necessarily high profile feature films but he has continued to work in his chosen profession.
NOW: Thankfully it seems that Robert hasn’t gone too far away from Hollywood. In the past few years he made a low-budget feature called DELIVERED in 2011 and he has made appearances on such hit series’ as “The Closer” and “Bones.” According to his official Facebook page, Rusler has a terrific family and is even giving a little back to young actors by teaching an Audition Workshop here in Santa Monica. He is still as handsome as ever and I’m sure just as talented.
I love this guy! He was one of those dudes that I wanted to have as a best bud because he was so damn good at playing one. He was the horror best pal that actually seemed worth palling around with. The actor still shows his love to the genre by making the rounds at horror conventions and is giving back to young actors thanks to the company he co-founded, Entertainment Playground, but frankly somebody needs to give this guy another great role! Cheers Mr. Rusler! I’d love to buy you a beer!