Who Is That Actor: Bruce Davison
Bruce Davison is not a total unknown, considering he was nominated for an Oscar for his role Longtime Companion which includes one of my favorite cinematic death scenes, but he might not be a household name for everyone, so it’s time for him to make an appearance in our series.
Davison started in theatre in the late 60s and all through the 70s and 80s and did film work too, but nothing quite busted him out into mainstream attention – despite being the original rat-loving Willard! The tall blond, blue-eyed actor made the seamless transition into being a silver fox and after appearing onstage in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, he caught casting directors attention who put him in the 1989 AIDS drama, Longtime Companion. Davison has popped up in several gay films, though he’s mostly known onscreen as either the tender loving father, the gentle put-upon husband, the ethical professor trying to do the right thing…..and then later, the creepy WASP dude who would totally hire someone to kill you if you got in the way of his corporate takeover scheme. Seriously, for a long time Davison was that actor who appeared on screen and you knew some serious white man pathos was about to happen to make you cry, but at some point in the 00s directors started to use that assumption to toy with us as audience members and he’s played so many evil creeps now – it probably started when he was cast in 2000’s X-Men as Senator Kelly who hates mutants. He’s really good at playing admirals and generals now, and the occasional professor or therapist too.
Davison starred in a few of our favorite movies, including Runaway Jury, and my guilty pleasure, the 1996 Allison Anders film, Grace Of My Heart. And forget Kevin Bacon, this guy not only starred in the film version Six Degrees of Separation, he’s living it with his CV. Have you watched TV or a movie in the past 30 years? Then you have seen him. His resume is like a box-set greatest hits of television itself: Murder She Wrote, V, The Practice, multiple Star Trek franchises, Hunter, Designing Women, Seinfeld, The Practice, Without a Trace, The L Word, multiple CSI franchises, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Leverage, Castle, Ghost Whisperer, Drop Dead Diva, Last Resort……I think he might be the only character actor working today that has NOT appeared in Law & Order, but between the Criminal Minds and other police procedurals, he’s covered his bases.
It’s too bad that the only shot Davison ever got as a leading man was replacing the John Lithgow role in the TV version of Harry and the Hendersons, but we don’t hold that one against him….too much. Hell, I’m pretty sure I watched a few episodes of it in 1991 when it aired – it filled the ALF hole left in my heart.