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Dec 9, 2009

Familiar Face - Unknown Name #18 - Jon Gries

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:

Jon Gries

Where You've Seen Him (high profile): Napoleon Dynamite, as Rusty the Homeless Guy on two episodes of Seinfeld, on LOST as Ben Linus' dad, Roger, the Liam Neeson actioner Taken, Real Genius, Get Shorty, Martin, etc., etc.

Where You've Seen Him (not-so-high profile): The Astronaut Farmer, Stick It, the NBC drama The Pretender, random guest spots on TV (Chicago Hope, Beverly Hills, 90210, CSI: NY, to name a few).

Character Specialties: Greaseballs, scumbags (and dirtbags), drug addicts - basically, the cream of the crop. Some of my favorite character 'names' that Gries has had the luxury of playing: Drunk's Friend, Dope Dealer, Hood 1, B Cool, and Dirty Curt. Nice!

My favorite role: Napoleon's Uncle Rico, of course. Though it's closer than you'd think; as a Seinfeld junkie, choosing Rusty is awfully tempting ("I once knew a horse named Rusty." - Kramer). But Uncle Rico has it all - a goofy look, a quirky character, some choice, super-repeatable lines ("How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains"), the above pose...he's a pop culture icon, damnit!

I have a soft spot for Ronnie from Get Shorty as well, but it's really not all that large or memorable of a character ultimately.

Little Known Facts: From IMDb: "Does not drink milk and eats very little red meat." There's really not much else to find. Though there was this quote, from an interview done with The Onion A.V. Club:

"AVC: Which character do you identify with most?

I would say Lazlo and Uncle Rico, in some odd combination, are two that I really identify with. Lazlo has this kind of sensitivity—he's almost autistic, where he can't look people in the eyes. He's worried about their feelings, and would rather hide away. And Uncle Rico—you know, I came to things a little later. I didn't get on the ball as an actor when I was younger. So I understand how Uncle Rico feels like opportunity passed him by. Though he blames it on other people, and I more just accept it. I also had dreams of playing sports. Luckily, I found something else."

On Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Gries
On IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0340973/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jon-Gries/#/pages/Jon-Gries/103637131907?ref=search&sid=1347401336.2249069452..1

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Familiar Face - Unknown Name #18 - Jon Gries"

Nick said...

Yeah, I knew of the no milk/red meat thing. It's discussed on the Napoleon Dynamite commentary, because all Uncle Rico eats and drinks is milk and steak. You can actually see him spit steak out of his mouth a couple times during the movie.

Moviezzz said...

Great actor.

I saw two of his early films, the arcade comedy JOYSTICKS and TERRORVISION, within a close time period. Thinking he looked familiar, I looked him up and saw all of his other credits.

I often confused him with Mike Judge.

Fletch said...

Nick - haha, I wasn't aware of the milk/meat business until now; I'll definitely have to pay more attention next time I'm watching Nappy Dynamite.

Moviezzz - good call on the Judge confusion. I can certainly see that. I haven't really seen any of his early work.

Clive Dangerously said...

The last three Familiar Faces and five total have all been on Lost. Are you getting paid to plug the show?

Not that there is anything wrong with that; I love any mention of Lost. Lost Lost Lost.

Fletch said...

Clive - Ha! Unfortunately not. What can I say - I am a religious viewer of the show and they have a history of a) having a ton of characters come in and out over the years and b) getting choice character actors to fill those roles. Frankly, after looking back through the list, I'm surprised the number isn't higher.

But no, there's been no formal plan. It's entirely coincidental.

The Bus Stop Boxer said...

I kinda liked him in The Rundown too. Only, he was really playing off Walken most of the time.

Reel Whore said...

I've always appreciated Ronnie from Get Shorty. When he's flashing his piece stuffed in his pants to Farina, you know it's not going to end well for poor Ronnie.

Excellent choice!

Fletch said...

Bus Stop - I recall him being in The Rundown, but it's been long enough that I don't really remember what he did in it. But you can't go wrong with Walken to play off of.

Wayne - Ronnie was such a dumb shit, but then again, Gries is pretty damn good at playing them. He's probably brilliant IRL.