Friday, December 15, 2006

Remembering Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle was one of those character actors that turned up on TV or in movies pretty regularly and Hubs and I would say, "It's Frankenstein!" Okay, so really he was Frankenstein's monster, but we knew the difference.

So when he appeared in X-Files in the episode titled "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" I was interested in what his character would be.

I didn't expect to be moved to tears.

Mr. Boyle won an Emmy for his portrayal of Clyde Bruckman and deservedly so. His Clyde, a man with a gift that he definitely did not want, was quiet, understated, and powerful. I cared about Clyde and felt immensely sorry for his burden. The conclusion of the story was inevitable. I knew it. And I cried.

I've long had a pet theory (one of several, but I digress) that comics are often better actors than those who specialize in drama because being believable in comedy is so much harder. The talents of many comedians are often underrated, so they don't often get meaty roles. (I also think it's harder to write good comedy as well. So the two may be related. And I'm not referring to comic sketches, by the way.) Mr. Boyle showed what he was capable of in the role of Clyde Bruckman and for that I thank him. I also thank Chris Carter, the executive producer, and whomever else was responsible for hiring Peter Boyle for this episode.

Several of the tributes to Mr. Boyle have mentioned that he was a monk before becoming an actor. I didn't know that, but I'm not surprised. There's a kind of stillness in him, a quiet center, a steadiness that's evident in his character of Clyde Bruckman, but can also be seen in his portrayal of the monster in Young Frankenstein and as the dad in While You Were Sleeping. He seemed comfortable with himself even when--maybe because--he was playing just an ordinary, blue-collar guy. He wasn't, really. I mean, how many people had John Lennon as the Best Man at their wedding?

I'm going to miss seeing him pop up in movies and on TV when I least expected it.