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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Powers Boothe

06.05.2017

Powers Boothe

Powers Boothe never really got his due. A character actor par excellence, I’m sure that for awhile there it looked like he would become a full-fledged leading man. He made a big impression playing Jim Jones in “Guyana Tragedy”, for which he won an Emmy, and later starred in one of the first ever HBO series, “Philip Marlowe: Private Eye”. Leading roles in SOUTHERN COMFORT and John Boorman’s THE EMERALD FOREST proved he could carry a film, but the movies themselves didn’t quite connect with audiences, and by the time he hit his forties, it seemed like his chance at stardom had passed.

No matter - his craggy good looks and excellent voice guaranteed he’d never be short of work, and he was able to play a wide range of character parts for the next thirty years. Highlights include his anti-hero cop opposite Brandon Lee in RAPID FIRE, Curly Bill in TOMBSTONE, the psycho baddie in Jean Claude Van Damme’s SUDDEN DEATH, and in later years, arcs on “24”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”, “Nashville”, and a starring role on David Milch’s immortal “Deadwood.” Rumor has it, an illness prevented Booth from landing Al Swearengen, but Cy Toliver played to his strengths perfectly.

His Best Work

When TOMBSTONE went head-to-head with WYATT EARP at the box-office, everyone assumed the latter, a Kevin Costner vanity project, would win. Instead, the lower-budgeted, ensemble, TOMBSTONE, creamed it and has gone on to become a classic. There are many reasons why (for one, Kurt Russell is a way better Wyatt Earp, and no one touches Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday), but a lack of strong villains made WYATT EARP feel like a glorified mini-series. Powers Boothe, as the psychotic Curly Bill, brings real menace and gravitas to the film (as does Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo and Stephen Lang as Ike Clanton), and I’m surprised that between this and SUDDEN DEATH, that Boothe didn’t go on to become a constant action movie baddie.

His Most Overrated Work

I’ve always felt for our very own Alex Maidy, who’s been stuck reviewing “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” for four seasons now. A tough slog of a show, I’m stunned ABC hasn’t canceled it yet, and even devoted Marvel fans seem to be rather cool on it (as opposed to the better Netflix shows). I’m glad it gave Boothe some consistent work in his final years, but did it ever really give him much to do? From the bits and pieces I’ve seen, it looks flat, but correct me if I’m wrong in the talkbacks.

His Most Underrated Film

I only just watched Walter Hill’s SOUTHERN COMFORT for the first time last week. In it, Boothe plays a rebellious National Guardsman, assigned to a platoon staffed by dangerously dumb rednecks, who find themselves in a whole heap of trouble when their bullying leads to an all-out war with Cajun hunters in the Louisiana Bayou. Boothe and Keith Carradine are the two lone good guys in the gang, and the ones you root for in this tight little actioner.

His Most Badass Moment

One of the most evil of the guardsmen in SOUTHERN COMFORT is the great Fred Ward, who makes the mistake of getting on Boothe’s bad side in this bitchin’ scene that should convince any of you who haven’t seen it to put it at the top of your queue. I apologize for the music, which isn't part of the film. It's the only version I could find.

His Five Best Roles

5. SOUTHERN COMFORT
4. EXTREME PREJUDICE
3. THE EMERALD FOREST
2. Deadwood
1. TOMBSTONE

Up Next

According to the IMDB, Boothe hadn’t been working on anything for awhile when he passed, so I suppose we’ve gotten our last Boothe performance. That’s a shame, but he leaves behind a great legacy, and I hope this article encourages some of you to dig into his catalog.

Source: JoBlo.com

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