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I Think I Just Gave Away the Ending: Actors Whose Name in the Credits Are Spoilers

February 24, 2011

Whether you call it “The David Morse Theorem” or “The Peter Coyote Clause” there are certain character actors who by default do more to spoil a film than anything a careless word or joke by an otherwise thoughtful friend ever could. From their perpetual position as sixth listed in the credits these actors’ reputation for villainy, flipflopery and foolishness can undo even the most needlessly complicated Nolanesque plot in seconds.

David Morse (see above photo)

There was a time back in the 80s where the name David Morse stood for something other than tall, beefy, well-coiffed treachery! On St. Elsewhere, Morse played a lanky, kind hearted, cute, sensitive doctor with a bushel of golden curls. He eased his patients fears, fought with hospital administration and looked incredibly foxy in his scrubs. During his stint on St. Elsewhere, Morse was not given to creating a super virus that results in Bruce Willis having to spend the entirety of a Gilliam film bald and confused or badgering hospital staff because he felt humiliated by them. Nor did ever feel the need to tie any female – assassins with or without memory loss – to a rack and repeatedly dunk them in ice cold water after pretending to be their long lost boyfriend. When I screened The Long Kiss Goodnight as soon as I saw Morse I shrieked, “No, Geena, no!” Even adjusting for the fact that Morse’s height might have been more of a factor in his casting – so the world wouldn’t end for those who find the prospect of a woman being taller than a dude too much to bear – I just couldn’t conceive of a reason why it would make sense for Geena Davis to run rushing into his outstretched and obviously sinister arms.

Xander Berkeley

With Berkeley posing as your friend, you don’t need enemies. More tears have been shed over cries for assistance answered by Berkeley than cries gone unanswered. If there’s a betrayal in your cinematic future, most likely Berkeley will be one betraying you. With a smirk and a tired line about his government wages not cutting the muster. For the life of me, I can’t understand why folks in films don’t immediately run away screaming upon encountering one of Berkeley’s cinematic alter egos.

Donald Sutherland

As a leading man, Sutherland often portrays solid, stand up guys, whose villainy is usually the product of some ill calibrated moral compass, too much power or perhaps a brush with the law. But as a part of an ensemble, the presence of this famed barer of gravitas provides little comfort to the legions of hapless protagonists who eagerly seek out his assistance. He might hand you the entire JFK plot on a silver platter only to dash your hopes with his unwillingness to testify in open court. He might even agree that your scrappy little murder defense is just, moral and winnable, but unfortunately he’ll probably be in the throes of another drinking binge to show up to court to lend any support. Sutherland will in fact possess all the answers to any problem filmmakers wish to pile on a protagonist, however, his name listed way down in the credits all but guarantees the protagonist will pretty much be on their own.

Kevin Spacey

Oh sure, now we can stop calling him, “Chekov’s Spacey”, but there was a stretch of time in the 90s where there was little need to watch any thriller featuring Spacey listed in the credits. Most likely he either did the crime, paid someone else to do the crime or the crime itself was a just a figment of someone’s badly constructed script imposed on the protagonist. One crafty currently Oscar nominated filmmaker even tried to trick audiences by sneaking Spacey into his film in a memorable killer role uncredited. As Morgan would say, “Now now now…” PS: For Xena’s sake, don’t look in the damn box!

Peter Coyote

The dulcet voice my draw you in, but you do so at your own peril. If anything good has every resulted from a late night run in with one of Coyote’s cinema personas I’ve certainly never seen it. Yes, he’s cheating on you. No, he’s not your friend. And for Xena’s sake, please don’t give this dude anymore top secret codes you don’t wish to get out in the open.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 9:28 am

    And then of course there’s Hal Holbrook. When your new employee orientation is delivered with his smooth patrician southern charm, you know he’s behind the machine that will destroy your life unless you take it down!

  2. February 24, 2011 9:37 am

    Hal Holbrook is such a spoiler! I’m also wondering if Liev Schreiber is also not a spoiler because more often than not he turns out to be something of a red herring.

  3. February 24, 2011 9:59 am

    Liev Schreiber is also not a spoiler because more often than not he turns out to be something of a red herring.

    totally!

    oh, David Morse. I remember in the 90s when he played several gentle rebounding divorced dad that women dated to recover their self-esteem. It’s like he took that character and revealed it to be a front for his serial killer inside.

    If Gregory Harrison is in your tv movie, watch your back.

  4. February 24, 2011 10:10 am

    oh, David Morse. I remember in the 90s when he played several gentle rebounding divorce that women dated to recover their self-esteem. It’s like he took that character and revealed it to be a front for his serial killer inside.

    HAHAHAHA! So true.

    Also, GREGORY HARRISON. LOL. Putting the fun back in dysfunctional stalker, cheater, embezzler and eventually killer.

  5. February 24, 2011 10:14 am

    I wonder if Melissa Gilbert automatically crosses the street whenever she encounters at post-Family Ties Michael Gross.

  6. hsofia permalink
    February 24, 2011 5:23 pm

    These comments are hilarious (and so true). I wish I could “like” or thumbs up them all!

  7. February 24, 2011 7:34 pm

    Once I was dining at the same cafe as Terry O’Quinn. You’ve never seen someone wolf down a sandwich so fast in order to get the hell out of there.

  8. Nausikaa permalink
    February 24, 2011 10:18 pm

    The title of your post loaded before the rest of it, so I had time to see the title and think, “David Morse in 12 Monkeys aaargh!” before I saw the picture and realized that was actually what you were writing about. Though I will always think of him as Bayliss’s cousin who shot the Turkish exchange student, because he looks so much like Kyle Secor.

  9. February 25, 2011 1:17 pm

    I will always think of him as Bayliss’s cousin who shot the Turkish exchange student, because he looks so much like Kyle Secor.

    JIM BAYLISS!!!

  10. hsofia permalink
    February 25, 2011 2:28 pm

    Are there any female actors who serve as spoilers? I’m trying to think …

  11. February 25, 2011 2:55 pm

    Hsofia, I don’t really think so. It comes down to this as it relates to character actors:

    Men = same guy plays different roles
    Women = different women play the same role.

  12. February 27, 2011 2:20 am

    I just saw David Morse being a loving father to young Jodie Foster in Contact!

  13. February 27, 2011 10:34 am

    Ha. But then the bastard had the nerve to leave young Jodie!

  14. February 27, 2011 12:10 pm

    Myocardial infarctions are a bitch.

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