That Guy File #14: Brad Dourif

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September 13, 2012 by abbyo

Where you’ve seen him: 149 films and TV shows, including Wise Blood, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Eyes of Laura Mars, Heaven’s Gate, Dune, Blue Velvet, Mississippi Burning, Nightwatch, Alien: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” remakes, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” Deadwood, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Oh yeah, and all of the Child’s Play movies.

Most casual moviegoers wouldn’t be able to recognize Brad Dourif in a movie. But anyone who grew up during and after the late 80s is familiar with his work. Or, at least, one part of it:

Yup. Brad Dourif is the guy responsible for giving Chucky the serial killing doll his unforgettably nasty voice. But if you think creepy characters are all Dourif can do, you’re dead wrong.

Like Tom Noonan, Dourif is a great character actor who only happens to be best known for his genre work. His breakthrough role was Billy Bibbit, Jack Nicholson’s fellow mental hospital inmate in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” followed a few years later by the lead role in “Wise Blood,” John Huston’s adaptation of the Flannery O’Connor novel. He was also in “Heaven’s Gate,” along with Noonan (and seemingly every character actor and up-and-comer at the time—Willem Dafoe is an uncredited extra).

That’s a pretty heady way to begin a career. But given Dourif’s usually squirrely demeanor, and his ability to oscillate from understated and nervous to impassioned and enraged, it seems inevitable that he’d eventually find the most success playing creepers and killers. His two highest-profile roles are Chucky and Grima Wormtongue, the sniveling man-parasite from the last two “Lord of the Rings” films.

But even in the later years of Dourif’s long and varied career, he’s been able to latch on to the kinds of roles that got him noticed in the first place. His work as Doc Cochran on “Deadwood” is a standout on a show with scads of great performances. Dourif uses both that nervous appearance and strength of conviction to give a sympathetic portrayal of a compassionate but frustrated man who’s been jaded by his surroundings.

It’s like you’re watching a completely different man, am I right? While it’s fun to see Dourif’s talents referenced in movies like Rob Zombie’s remakes of the “Halloween” movies, it’s even better to see them displayed in great films and TV shows. It looks like that may not be happening for a while, though. Dourif’s next big project is a straight-to-video release starring, you guessed it, Chucky.

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3 thoughts on “That Guy File #14: Brad Dourif

  1. […] role. That’s to say nothing of the supporting cast, which includes Jeff Bridges, Tom Noonan, Brad Dourif, and a very young Mickey Rourke. Blink and you’ll miss Joseph Cotten. And say what you want about […]

  2. Elma says:

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in
    your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.
    Kudos

    • abbyo says:

      Thanks, Elma! I checked the site out in Internet Explorer on my computer, and didn’t experience that problem. If it continues to be an issue, let me know!

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