A while ago, someone asked me who my favourite actors were. I started rattling off some names – Ron Perlman, Bruce Campbell, William H. Macy – and I was stopped, and asked who my favourite big name actors were.
And I don’t really have any. I love character actors.
I think I love them because they can pop up in all sorts of unsuspecting places. Rather than watching a movie almost exclusively because it has Johnny Depp in it, it’s nice to watch a movie and suddenly have a bunch of people go “Hey, no way! It’s that guy from… oh, what was it?”
An unsung hero among character actors is Stephen Tobolowsky. A “hero” because he is so incredibly prolific: I believe he holds the record for starring in the most movies in the 1990s. Unsung because almost noone remembers his name, and he’s doomed to be forever known as “that guy from.. uh.. Groundhog Day!”.
Hopefully, Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party will change that. The trailer makes light of his relative anonymity – Stephen Tobolowsky asking various punters who they think “Stephen Tobolowsky” is. The answers range from “A Russian Scientist” to “Serial Killer” by way of “Porn Star”.