6 M.I.A. Actors Who Need to Come Back

With each passing year, Hollywood seems more and more prone to shoving new faces and stars down our throat, and too often it becomes harder and harder to keep up. While some of these modern stars are gifted with immense talent (we love you, Jennifer Lawrence!) more often than not, many of these new actors are little more than heavily branded commodities with a pretty face. Where is the talent? Where is the artistry?

Without meaning to sound like a bunch of old timers, screaming about these new kids who so often dare to step on our lawns, there are plenty of old school actors who’ve all but disappeared off the cultural radar. Actors with skill, with grace, and ability. Where have you gone? Why have you forsaken us?

With that in mind, we racked our brains to find a list of actors we’d love to see make a triumphant return to the big screen in roles either large or small. After hours of discussion, argument, and the occasional fisticuff, we finally narrowed down a list of MIA thespians for whom we’re desperate to return…

Joe Pesci

He exploded onto the scene as Tommy in Scorsese’s mob classic Goodfellas, winning an Oscar for his performance, and leading everyone to ask the question “who is this guy?” Despite an equally stunning performance ten years earlier in Scorsese’s Raging Bull, and a stint as the villainous drug dealer with the goal of getting every kid on earth addicted to drugs in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, Pesci was the kind of actor who waited for more than a decade for his big break.

After playing Nicky Santoro in Casino in 1995, he took only a handful of roles in mostly forgettable movies like Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag. He’s only appeared in two movies in the entire 21st century, with some voice work on a third in post-production. His twitchy, irate rants through his thick Newark accent are sorely missed, as he had the ability to be funny and frightening all at once.

Val Kilmer

Here’s the thing about Val Kilmer: He never really went away, he just slipped out of the public eye after a series of bizarre acting choices. Like Pesci, the early-to-mid 1990s was a golden age, playing everyone from Jim Morrison to Batman, Elvis to Doc Holliday. Then, at some point after Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but before the uncredited voice of K.I.T.T. on the Knight Rider reboot, he’d painted himself into some kind of unique Hollywood obscurity.

Kilmer always seemed to do throw himself into his roles, like he had some kind of psilocybin-fueled methodology that went along with his research. The fact that he already played the straight-man in Herzog’s reimagining of Bad Lieutenant indicates he’s already been through the vortex of self-parody. Though there’s a chance that Terence Malick’s perpetually delayed “untitled love-triangle set in Austin, TX” project pushes him back into the mainstream. Or at least some kind of cult status.

Jack Nicholson

The kind of actor that was so good at being himself, when you saw him actually act you’d be blown away. If you’re familiar with his work, watching Easy Rider or Ironweeds for the first time is a revelation. He showed his chops periodically through his career, particularly when playing a regular guy in Alexander Payne’s bittersweet About Schmidt.

With sporadic acting credits the last several years, his last film of any real note was Scorsese’s 2006 crime epic, The Departed, which finds Nicholson overacting so delightfully he ends up delivering the perfect performance. Surely there has to be more of a need to have this kind of indulgence in secondary movie characters these days. Just don’t limit him to criminals. Let him play some rambling, disheveled fry cook that gives Kiera Knightly’s straight-laced main character a four-minute rant on the superiority of hashbrowns to homefries from his order window. I’d watch the shit out of that.

Gene Hackman

For a good view of Hackman’s importance in film, the only place one needs to look is his rant to Wes Anderson on the set of The Royal Tenenbaums. I say this as a Wes Anderson fan, calling him a “cunt” is the best way to handle an auteur in danger of pigeon-holing himself. Look what happened to George Lucas. He had almost 40 years of no one saying “no” to him, and we got characters like Jar Jar Binks and Xero The Hutt.

Keeping a guy like that on his toes is the kind of checks-and-balance system that’s necessary for any kind of collaborative art. While Anderson is brilliant in his own right, when you’ve homogenized your craft to the point where Saturday Night Live can do a paint by numbers parody that’s near-indistinguishable from the source material, you need to be called out every now and then. That’s why we need a world where Hackman still makes movies.

Richard Dreyfuss

With a career that goes back to the beginning of the end of “New Hollywood,” he was the squirrely everyman who was impossible to dislike. He’s still working regularly, dividing his time between voiceover work and TV movies (seriously, a LOT of TV movies) where his character’s last name is also the title. Regardless, he hasn’t had the spotlight since Mr. Holland’s Opus twenty years ago.

Personally, I’m thinking about a gritty reboot of Moon Over Parador. Have him reprise his role, but after a quarter-century in power. He should have some time for that soon, as his latest TV movie, Madoff, (where he plays Bernie Madoff, obviously) is in post-production.

Rick Moranis

A graduate of the Second City comedy circuit, Moranis made a career out of playing the underdog, and an actual dog, as he got to do both in Ghostbusters. He never seemed to recover from playing Barney Rubble in the live-action Flintstones adaptation, (which is completely understandable), and he seemed to wind out the remaining years with kid’s cartoons and contractually-obligated Honey I Shrunk The ____ roles.

He’s gone the Steve Martin route, writing intellectual musings about day-to-day life, and has this kind of quaint pretension that could make him some kind of great-uncle figure to the mumblecore subgenre. It would be the appropriate level of ironic nostalgia. Everybody wins.

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