Friday, December 13, 2013

The Reformed Leland Orser

Let's take a look at the most recent work of actor Leland Orser.  First, we have a scene from Touch in which Orser gets shot in the leg.  Ouch!  Orser looks scared and his voice gets tremulous, but he manages to keep his cool.

Now, we have a scene from Magic City in which Orser plays a ghost who has apparently come to terms with his death.


The scene ends with Orser calmly striding into the ocean and disappearing below the waves. 


But Orser was not always so chill.

I remember when I saw Pearl Harbor in 2001.  It was quintessential Hollywood formula action film.  It was so derivative and predictable that nothing about it left the slightest impression on me.  Well, one scene did leave an impression.  At one point, an injured soldier is rushed into the hospital.  He's had his neck torn open and a nurse has to plug her finger into an artery to stop the guy from bleeding to death.

I enjoyed the scene not because I have a morbid sense of humor or I find blood or hospitals to be joyous things.  No, not at all.  It's that I recognized the actor who played the soldier.  The actor was Orser, who specialized at time in delivering top-notch hysterics to films.  He did it in Se7en (1995).  He did it in Alien Resurrection (1997).  He did it, now, in Pearl Harbor.  He was clawing at the nurse, he was bugging out his eyes, he was delivering his lines in panicked screech, and he was hyperventilating.  Orser was described by an astute blogger as The Panicky Guy.

Alien Resurrection (1997)
It reminds of the days when a character actor could make a good living with a specialty.  For example, a director knew that he could rely upon Billy Gilbert to perform a funny sneezing fit.

Very Bad Things (1998)
It's been years since Orser has had one of his freak outs on screen.  I can understand an actor wanting to move on to play other types of roles, but I still cannot help but miss the old panicky Orser.  I hope that he returns some day.

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