Harry Dean Stanton, ‘Big Love’ Star, Dead At 91
I loved the energy of Stanton with his offbeat, dazed and confused bedraggled look. He made a great villain as in “Big Love” and could also be a loving and understanding (though unemployed and clueless) father to Molly Ringwald, teaching her about self-love, class distinction, and snobbery in the 1986 movie “Pretty In Pink.” It was that movie that put Stanton in the mainstream. Even here, his character was still more than a little dazed: When awakened by his daughter, his first words are “Where am I?” His range of over 200 movie characters run the gamut of bad guys, good guys, hero, and coward but his presence on the screen somehow left you with a visual you could not get out of your head and always having the best line in the movie because of his delivery. Not a scene stealer but just having the ability to take full control of that acting moment.
Stanton became more noticeable as an actor after his roles in “Twin Peaks,” “Big Love,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Repo Man.” He had a high-profile role as manipulative cult leader Roman Grant on HBO’s polygamy drama “Big Love,” which ran from 2006-11 and recently appeared as Carl Rodd in the “Twin Peaks” revival on Showtime. Stanton had a good year in 1984, having several popular roles in Red Dawn, Pretty in Pink and Repo Man. Later film roles included a pair of David Lynch films in the early 1990s, “Wild at Heart” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”; Bob Rafelson’s “Man Trouble,” with Nicholson; “The Mighty,” with Gena Rowlands and Sharon Stone; “The Green Mile”; Sean Penn’s “The Pledge”; Nick Cassavetes’ “Alpha Dog”; “Inland Empire” and Paris, Texas.
Stanton’s performance in the film Paris, Texas written by Sam Shepard, was not so much powerful as it was intriguingly, sometimes hauntingly, absent. Roger Ebert said, “Stanton has long inhabited the darker corners of American noir, with his lean face and hungry eyes, and here he creates a sad poetry.” In the cheerfully bizarre “Repo Man,” he played the boozy repo-biz veteran who takes young punk Emilio Estevez under his wing but provides at-best, vague guidance: “A repo man’s life is always intense,” or “The more you drive, the less intelligent you get.” Stanton was close friends with Jack Nicholson being his best man at Nicholson’s 1962 wedding and they lived together for more than two years after Nicholson’s divorce. The character actor’s first step in emerging from obscurity was a part written by Nicholson for him in the 1965 Western “Ride the Whirlwind.” Stanton played the leader of an outlaw gang; Nicholson told him to “let the wardrobe do the acting and just play yourself.” “After Jack said that, my whole approach to acting opened up,” Stanton told Entertainment Weekly.
Susan Z’s Conclusion:
Stanton was never classified as an A List star in Hollywood but he was definitely a great actor and had his own style. I also believe by some of the parts he chose to play, he was a man of deep intelligence and did not take himself seriously when it came to acting. He took acting seriously, just not the career. When asked by producer David Lynch on how he would like to be remembered as an actor, his answer was: “Doesn’t matter,” and you knew he meant it.
Ace of Pentacles: Inverted (Upside Down)
Financial gain and knowing one’s self worth. Pulled inverted, I am going to reach far here but I believe money was not the reason he acted. He would probably barter a part if he thought it was a good fit for him.
Ten of Swords: Inverted
Challenging times in life. Pulled inverted, it shows he turned his life around to the better. What actor as old as Stanton does not have a story of youthful decadence and ruin. I feel he had one of those life stories and then brought his life back for the better.
Going within and liking isolation or feeling alone even when surrounded. I believe Stanton was a self-contained loner that did not take himself seriously and just might have questioned at one time if life might just be a big cosmic joke on him.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.