Where in the Horror are they Now? Gregg Henry!

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THEN: Many of my favorite actors could easily be called “character actors.” You know the guys that everybody is aware of but perhaps they don't know their names? One of the most talented and exciting fellas that might fit that description is Gregg Henry. The Lakewood, Colorado native began his impressive career as part of the TV series sequel (to a the mini-series) Rich Man, Poor Man - Book II (1976-77) playing Wesley Jordache. I’ll be honest, I think perhaps I caught this on television at some point but have little memory of it. All that aside, this was the start of an enviable career for Gregg, one that captures every genre, but we are here to focus [mostly] on horror… and maybe a couple of personal favorites that may be outside the box.

In the middle of the slasher craze started by HALLOWEEN, there was a little movie called JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981). The first time I saw this fright flick I had a few nightmares because of it, and I've watched it repeatedly since. This is a scary and under appreciated little gem written and directed by Jeff Lieberman, co-scripted by Mark Arywitz with a story credit for Jonas Middleton. One of the most impressive things about this killer in the woods movie is the cast - aside from the menacing baddies. Gregg Henry is terrific, as is Chris Lemmon, Deborah Benson, Jamie Rose and George Kennedy. As much as I love FRIDAY THE 13th, this similarly themed bit of terror packs a hell of a punch with a wild and weird final ending. If you’ve never seen this, do yourself a favor and check it out this coming Halloween.

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After his introduction to the 80’s horror craze, Henry moved back onto the small screen with the mini-series The Blue and the Gray. He also made appearances on Voyagers! (1982), Tucker’s Witch, The Love Boat and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, all in 1983. However, it wasn’t just the small screen. The actor had an uncredited role in the iconic Brian De Palma gangster film SCARFACE and the drama FUNNY MONEY, both in 1983 as well. This guy worked. He became a guest starring staple, making one episode guest appearances on Down to Earth, Simon & Simon and Airwolf, all from 83-84. However, his next feature was probably the first time I remember taking notice of the guy.

After his cameo in SCARFACE, Gregg once again worked with De Palma in the controversial erotic thriller BODY DOUBLE. In the film, the actor appeared as Craig Wasson’s pal Sam Bouchard, a friend that you may not be able to trust. His character brings Wasson’s Jake Scully into a highly sexualized world of porn and driller killers. If you are looking for a beautifully stylized flick with a ton of nudity and thrills, you can’t beat this experience. It also helps to have Melanie Griffith and Deborah Shelton offering serious eye candy. And then there is the music video style sequence during the film, brought to you by the 80’s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. This flick is kind of glorious in how in embraces the sleaze factor.

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I could continue mentioning his appearances in television shows like Moonlighting and The Hitchhiker, both from 1985, but it is really time to put a little focus into Gregg’s history with scares. In 1987, he was featured as Tom Fuller in the TV movie Bates Motel - not even close quality wise to the current series with the same name. Funnily enough, much of Henry’s genre work was associated with Mr. De Palma. After many television appearances, the actor starred in De Palma’s RAISING CAIN, the movie that features John Lithgow in a show stopping performance. This is yet another under appreciated gem in the De Palma catalogue.

You could find this week’s subject battling Tidal Wave: No Escape in 1997. And in 1998, he played Gallatin in STAR TREK: INSURRECTION. He was also featured as the voice of Gal’na in the 1999 video game Star Trek: Hidden Evil. And while not a  horror film in any way, Henry kicked ass in one of my favorite Mel Gibson flicks, the revenge drama PAYBACK (1999). And for all the Joss Whedon fans out there - myself included - you could find him making an appearance as Sheriff Bourne in an episode of Firefly in 2002. And yes, he continued his working relationship with a certain director by the name of De Palma with FEMME FATALE in 2002. He appeared opposite Gary Oldman in SIN in 2003. And once again he boarded the Star Trek: Enterprise that same year for one episode. There was a four episode arc on 24 in 2003 as Jonathan Wallace, and then the creepy TV-movie in 2005 called The Hunt for the BTK Killer.

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You could find Gregg starring opposite Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Rooker in the 2006 James Gunn classic - yes, I called it a classic - SLITHER. This bizarre little freak show took the killer plague storyline and did something inventively exciting with it. And then he worked with guess who for THE BLACK DAHLIA - not one of De Palma’s best unfortunately. One thing that strikes me as very interesting about this incredible actor’s career is just how often he works with the same people. That says a lot about somebody and what they put into their work. It appears that Gregg Henry may be one of the hardest working actors around.

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NOW: In 2014, this versatile actor appeared in nearly every TV show ever made - okay that may be an exaggeration. He starred in the made-for-TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax. And then there was a movie that many of you may have heard of… a little something called GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. He played Quill's grandpa at the very beginning and he was awesome. He was Carl Reddick in the series The Killing. He was Dr. Arthur Strauss in The Following. And while far more soap than scare, he had an impressive arc in the series Scandal. His most recent big screen presence was in this summer's JASON BOURNE.

Gregg Henry really is an incredible talent. He has worked continuously all the way back to 1976 and he hasn’t stopped since. And if Brian De Palma ever returns to making a seriously sexy/scary thriller, you know he’ll find a place for Henry. The same can be said for James Gunn. This talented actor and singer - yep, he has been featured on a couple of soundtracks - and all around impressive guy can be found on Twitter if you'd like to see what he is up to. That appears to be his only real use of social media. Either way, if you are not familiar with this awesome dude, you should be. Hell, I can foresee a Brian De Palma/Gregg Henry film festival in my own future. BODY DOUBLE is calling my name!

Source: AITH



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