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Who is that Actor: Philip Baker Hall

June 16, 2010

Iconic character actor Philip Baker Hall and unknown duck.

You recognize the shock of white hair, the craggy face and the fact he’s always around when political disaster strikes. Philip Baker Hall has been in more [presidential] cabinets than a box of saltines, negotiated more fictional treaties and settled more contentious faux political squabbles than any other character actor besides fellow perpetual cabinet member Bill Smithrovich. When I first discovered Hall – as one of PT Anderson’s Theater Company Players in Boogie Nights – I’ll admit there was some Phillip Seymour Hoffman/Philip Baker Hall name conflation. You’d think it would be hard to notice Hall in a sea of stand out character actors – Joanna Gleason, Alfred Molina, Nicole Ari Parker, John C. Reilly, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Luis Guzmán, Don Cheadle – but Hall was quite memorable as the uber sleazy Floyd Gondolli and I have kept an eye on him ever since. If your action or suspense film has any shot of relevancy, Hall’s got to be in it. He doesn’t need a huge role – just enough meat to chew up the scene. Mr. Hall is a national treasure. He’s also managed to score the character actor hat trick with appearances on Monk, Murder, She Wrote and Matlock!

selected works
Secret Honor*
Air Force One* (with fellow travelers Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy and Bill Smithrovich)
Boogie Nights*
The Practice (TV)
Millennium (TV)
Rush Hour
Enemy of the State
The Insider*
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Rules of Engagement (underrated courtroom drama starring Sam “Shouting” Jackson and Guy Pierce)
The Contender*
The Sum of All Fears*
Bruce Almighty
The West Wing
Boston Legal*
Curb Your Enthusiasm*

*denotes favorite performances

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 9:24 am

    Ohh, THAT guy! Thank you for — once again — doing the legwork.

    I conflate his name with all kinds of other actors… from Joe Don Baker to Anthony Michael Hall.

  2. June 17, 2010 9:50 am

    I love this guy! Except Magnolia has almost ruined him for me, his performance was so amazing, it is actually kind of hard to not think of him as not safe to be left around his own daughter. Which is a very unfair thing to think of an actor just doing his job really well.

  3. June 17, 2010 10:15 am

    LOVE him on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And pretty much everything you listed.

  4. Alyx Vesey permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:00 pm

    Oh, Philip Baker Hall! Loves him. Also, I happen to think that pairing Secret Honor with Nashville is a great Robert Altman/July 4th double feature.

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