RIP Rip Torn, a genuine character, a great Southern character actor–1931-2019

 

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Rip Torn was funny and scary, regal and homespun, folksy and urbane and damned good every time out, on the big screen and the small one.

And “quite the character” doesn’t sum up his offscreen life. Robbery, an infamous (amusingly so) “knife fight,” alcoholism. In a later era, #MeToo would have been the least of his problems.

“Payday,” “Men in Black,” “Nadine,” “Defending Your Life,” more movies than you can count (almost). And all that TV. Man.

Emmys and Oscar nominations (for “Cross Creek”), acclaimed in “The Larry Sanders Show” and “30 Rock,” to me he can be perfectly summed up in one performance, and a single line from it.

In Alan Rudolph’s serio-comic country music saga “Songwriter,” Torn played the much maligned manager for singers Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Everybody on the tour cheats with the manager, Dino’s wife, and nobody thinks he knows about it.

Umtil the day the Texan, in a classic Torn move, pulls out a pistol and makes his feelings known.

Kris and Willie stare, slackjawed, until Willie says,”Damn Dino, we underESTIMATED you!”

And Torn, letting the molasses set on his Texas drawl, growls “AAAaaaaaal you sumbitches do.”

Rip Torn, an actor and character you never underestimate. RIP

 

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