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Apr 22, 2008

Familiar Face - Unknown Name #4 - Cliff Curtis

Call them what you want - character actors, "That Guy(s)," scene stealers - I don't care. This is a regular feature where I spotlight one performer, whether they be longtime veterans (like J.K. Simmons or Barry Corbin) or a fresher face just making their way up the stardom ranks. For previous FF-UNs, click here.

Today's Familiar Face-Unknown Name:

Cliff Curtis

Where You've Seen Him (high profile): The New Zealand-born Curtis has been a force in high-profile dramas and action pics lately, with his last five completed projects reading as such: 10,000 B.C., Live Free or Die Hard, Fracture, Sunshine, and The Fountain. He was also in a stream of big-budget movies at the turn of the century, being featured in Training Day, Blow, The Insider and Three Kings, amongst others. Curtis is already a full-blown star in his native land, and he looks to be breaking through stateside.

Where You've Seen Him (not-so-high profile): His feature debut was in the Academy Award-nominated The Piano, and he's been in the highest profile Kiwi movies not associated with Peter Jackson over the years, with roles in Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider.

Character Specialties: The 39 year-old is one of the most versatile actors in the business, particularly when it comes to nationalities he can portray. As such, it's hard to nail down a character specialty. I'd say that he's generally cast as a the voice of reason, a solid smart buddy to the star, or a tough (outside of his role in Once Were Warriors, where he played a rapist).

Little Known Facts: Where to begin? This, from IMDb, is probably the best place to start:

"In Hollywood, Cliff Curtis has played a range of different roles and ethnicities in films. He plays a Colombian in Blow , an Arab in Three Kings and The Insider, a Latino in Training Day and Runaway Jury, and a drug dealer of ambiguous ethnicity in Bringing Out the Dead. However, he is probably best known for his role as Paikea's father Porourangi, in Whale Rider."

Also...He has been featured in two different projects titled Fracture...He was a producer of last year's Eagle vs. Shark, which starred Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement...Is of Maori descent...high profile streak continues with this summer's Crossing Over, which stars Harrison Ford, Sean Penn and Ashley Judd.

10 people have chosen wisely: on "Familiar Face - Unknown Name #4 - Cliff Curtis"

Daniel G. said...

Awesome choice, Fletch. This guy has legit talent and I hope he gets a breakout role soon.

Man I love FF-UN.

ReelNinja.com said...

We love the concept of the 'familiar face' series. Would it be ok if Reel Ninja did something on those lines as well? I think its great that the not-so-big actors of the movies are showcased and given some recognition.
Reel Ninja

Fletch said...

@ Dan - glad you like him. I can't seem to escape him lately (not that I'm trying to), what with his recent stretch. I saw all of them in the theater save for 10k BC (thankfully), and Fracture's been all over HBO the last few days. The funny thing is, I love 3 Kings but don't recall who he was (or how large his role was), so I'll need to go back and watch it again (damn!).

@ Reelninja - go for it. I'm certainly not the first to spotlight character actors (not that a shout-out wouldn't hurt ;) ), and many of them deserve recognition. Have fun.

Tully Moxness said...

Cliff Curtis played the Iraqi who tortured Mark Wahlberg in Three Kings. After our recent excursion in Iraq, I'm kind of glad he did it. I guess you could call the torture he inflicted on Wahlberg, "Oilboarding".

Fletch said...

@ Tully - appreciate the attempt, but huh-uh. This guy (http://imdb.com/name/nm0846548/) played Wahlberg's torturer. He was in Vantage Point recently and is another favorite of mine.

Matt said...

IMDB has a picture of Mr. Curtis in Three Kings. I had to check it out cause I couldn't remember who he was in that movie either.

Here's his role according to wikipedia: Amir Abdullah a Shiite Iraqi rebel who has been captured by Hussein's troops. Educated in the US at Bowling Green State University he was an entrepreneur in Baghdad, running several cafes before they were destroyed by Coalition bombs.

Fletch said...

I love that the profile includes the university that the character graduated from. Weird that it's so in-depth.

Anyway, I saw a "memorable quote" on IMDb for his character, and from it, I believe he was the leader of the group that helped Clooney and gang later in the film (the ones that took them to the cave in the gas masks).

Burbanked said...

Hey, first time reader - found you via Adam Ross' awesome Friday Screen Test.

LOVE this series, and Curtis is developing a pretty terrific filmography. His bit in TRAINING DAY goes down in history for me as one of the all-time great turn-the-tables scenes.

I've been toying with a similar series on my site with character actors where I spotlight a classic scene - the most recent one being the late Ted Cassidy.

Check it out if you're interested. Thanks for your great site - I've subscribed today!

Fletch said...

Thanks, Burbanked - I'm pretty sure I've seen you around (Piper's site?).

Turn-the-tables...hehe. (Doesn't it take place solely at a table?)

Will definitely check out your site.

Scratch that - I've been there before. You have a great site with awesome design. Why aren't you a LAMB?

Burbanked said...

Thanks for the kind words, Fletch. I've chatted with Piper about the LAMBs a few times, and he's served me the Kool-Aid. I may join, even though I'm more of a sheep or a lemming than a lamb.