Where in the Horror are they Now? Ray Wise!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021


THEN: If the legendary Ray Wise had only appeared in the classic series Twin Peaks, he’d probably still be an icon. Of course, the actor has over 200 credits on IMDB, and is instantly recognizable. This fine gentleman can be utterly charming, and in mere seconds a raving lunatic, and pretty much everything in-between. He is a charismatic actor, one that has fully embraced the genre and earned one hell of a fan base because of it. And after the Twin Peaks love I’ve been spreading this week, it seemed to be the right time to take a look at the incredible career of Mr. Wise and find out exactly what he has been up to.

Starting off his career at a young age in soap operas, Ray moved up into the prime time. With a number of guest spots on episodic television as well as TV movies, he started to become a familiar face in the Seventies. Then in 1982 he was featured in a couple of very cool genre flicks. We are talking Wes Craven’s SWAMP THING as well as a small role in Paul Schrader’s (sort of) remake of CAT PEOPLE. After that was a return to television, this included more guest spots on T.J. Hooker, Trapper John, M.D. and Riptide, just to name a few.

While television was a huge part of his career, he proved to be a great baddie in the classic 1987 ROBOCOP. There is so much good in this flick, including an incredible script, director Paul Verhoeven keeping it uber violent, and Peter Weller as one hell of a great hero. Yet, Wise in a smaller role was wildly over-the-top, and clearly the man was relishing playing the heavy. It is so much fun watching him chew the scenery all these years later, that it is no surprise that he later took on one of television’s most crazed characters ever.

There is something truly unique about Wise and his eclectic career. He seemed to work constantly, but never really had that one role that truly made him a household name. Although being a great character actor is a pretty huge accomplishment. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that he commanded the screen as a grieving father. And not just any dad suffering a loss, he was Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks. It was in this role where he let the crazy take over, and it was a miraculous thing to watch. As Laura Palmer’s dad, he was brilliantly mad, as we came to realize just how close Leland was to the mysterious ‘Bob.’ What a performance! And what a show!

After his scene-stealing work on Twin Peaks, as well as the continued craziness in the feature film prequel TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME in 1992, suddenly the actor became more recognizable than ever. While you could certainly still classify him as a character actor, his resume expanded to bigger and better projects. This included being featured in the very funny political satire BOB ROBERTS in 1992 and in 1993 he appeared in RISING SUN opposite Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. And while he once again found a ton of work in television, working with David Lynch in the cult classic made him a genre favorite.

Over the years he has continued to work in horror and sci-fi including the underrated horror feature DEAD END in 2003 and JEEPERS CREEPERS II that same year. In 2008, he appeared in ONE MISSED CALL, and in 2009 PANDEMIC as well as INFESTATION. As far as big budget summer blockbusters, the actor had the opportunity to be a part of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Yet, Ray Wise loves his low budget horror. This was clear with appearances in both CHILLERAMA as well as ROSEWOOD LANE in 2011. He was also featured in THE AGGRESSION SCALE in 2012 along with his Twin Peaks co-star Dana Ashbrook.

NOW: Ray Wise is the perfect genre actor and he continues to prove this. He starred in the Adam Green series Holliston for one episode, as well as Mr. Green’s recent flick DIGGING UP THE MARROW from 2014. He battled a BIG ASS SPIDER! for Mike Mendez in 2013, and that was a ton of indie awesome. He was part of a Twin Peaks reunion of sorts for the hit USA series Psych in a brilliant homage to Lynch’s wonderful series, as well as a couple of other episodes. And he was even a part of genre great TOM HOLLAND and his TWISTED TALES in 2014. In fact, it seems that Wise can’t get enough of horror as of late.

In 2015, this busy man starred in the studio horror flick THE LAZARUS EFFECT. And according to IMDB, he is scheduled to be a part of the return of Twin Peaks – if it actually happens. As well,  he has quite a few movies currently in production. It looks as though this incredible actor isn’t slowing down anytime soon! If you’d like to keep in the loop of what this debonaire thespian has coming up, you can follow him on Twitter or his (unofficial??) Facebook page. With his many classic appearances, Ray continues to be one of my personal favorites. Here is hoping we get to see Leland Palmer and all his insanity return in some way, shape or form – yeah I know his fate, but anything is possible when it comes to the wild world of David Lynch.

Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.