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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Robert Loggia

12.06.2015
Last week, we took a look at the amazing career of screen icon Michael Caine. This week's badass is more of the unsung variety – one of the classic “that guy” character actors of the eighties and nineties...
Robert Loggia

I was very sad to hear of Robert Loggia's passing a few days ago. While eighty-five is a ripe old age, Loggia was one of those omnipresent actors of my youth who – while I probably never knew him by name back then – I was always happy to see pop up in movies. Loggia, who raked up over two hundred imdb credits, had a damn impressive career. While active since the fifties – to the extent that he even played a suave James Bond-like character in a sixties show called T.H.E Cat – Loggia never really hit his stride until he hit middle age. In fact, before his mid-eighties run, Loggia was mostly active directing TV, including episodes of Magnum P.I.

Loggia's heyday really began with his part as Richard Gere's roustabout father in AN OFFICE AND A GENTLEMAN. While absent from the film after the first ten minutes, Loggia's craggy, authentic features and voice had a way of making a real impression on audiences and casting directors alike. His part as the ill-fated drug lord Frank in SCARFACE is likely the part that really put him on the map, and indeed even in his twilight years Loggia was occasionally called upon to recreate the character in videogames or do interviews for DVDs.

After SCARFACE, Loggia hit his peak with a great role in the thriller JAGGED EDGE, which landed him an Oscar nomination. From there Loggia averaged about four-five roles a year, showing up in everything from goofy comedies like ARMED & DANGEROUS and OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, to dramas like OVER THE TOP (memorable as Sly's nemesis) and genre work like PSYCHO II, THE BELIEVERS, INNOCENT BLOOD, and most memorably LOST HIGHWAY where he played the sadistic Mr. Eddy. More recently, Loggia played himself in those famous “whoa, Robert Loggia!” Minute Maid ads, as well as playing along with a running gag on Family Guy.

His Best Work

This is a tough one. While JAGGED EDGE most certainly is not Loggia's best film (BIG, SCARFACE and LOST HIGHWAY easily have it beat) as far as being a showcase for his talents, JAGGED EDGE is tops. Directed by RETURN OF THE JEDI's Richard Marquand and written by the infamous Joe Eszterhas, in it he plays attorney Glenn Close's P.I assistant, who warns her throughout not to get involved with her client, accused wife-killer Jeff Bridges. While the movie is a bit dated, it's still a fun eighties thriller, and Loggia was never better. He was so popular in the part that now, whenever a lawyer movie comes out, there's always a part where the attorney has a craggy, tough-guy working for her.

His Most Overrated Work
 

I'm going to cheat with this one and put Family Guy in. While I have no problem with the show (although it's gone downhill over the years save for the occasional funny episode) I never found the Robert Loggia joke, where he'd show up saying “that's right, it's me – Robert Loggia – R-O-B-E-R...” yada yada yada, all that funny. Like many other gags on Family Guy, it was a mildly amusing joke that was yanked from that Minute Maid commercial and didn't justify becoming a repeat gag, but Loggia was a good sport by participating.

His Most Underrated Film

When I was a kid I loved watching Dana Carvey on SNL, and I especially loved his first star turn – OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – where he plays a lovable con man (is there any other kind in Hollywood?). Loggia, who usually played hard-asses, actually had a nice part as the patriarch of the family Carvey cons, with him developing paternal feelings towards Carvey, who becomes his protege and who he encourages to court his daughter. While I haven't seen the movie in about twenty years, I remember Loggia being really likable and having some nice scenes.

His Best Scene

Well, this one is a no-brainer. The “heart & soul/chopsticks” scene in Penny Marshall's BIG is a classic – to the point that it just got spoofed in THE NIGHT BEFORE, with Rogen and co playing Kanye West's less family-friendly 'Runaway'. The FAO Schwarz Piano Mat has become part of our pop culture thanks to this scene and really, so has Tom Hanks and Loggia. 

His Five Best Performances

5. PRIZZI'S HONOR
4. LOST HIGHWAY
3. BIG
2. SCARFACE
1. JAGGED EDGE

Up Next

While Loggia mostly acted in lower-rent movies following his last major role on Malcolm in the Middle, it can't be denied he leaves behind a rich body of work and will go down as one of the pre-eminent character actors of his day. He will be missed.

Extra Tidbit: Thanks Nick Bosworth for the idea.
Source: JoBlo.com

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