Recently, I was asked one of the most profound questions a cinema lover like me could be asked: If your family was killed by a pack of Cartel narco terrorists and you sought revenge by driving down to Texas with a trunk full of whisky and five of the biggest movie bad-asses in the business, who would you pick to go with you? They could be alive or dead and current age/status doesn’t matter, they go as they were in their prime. I was surprised by how much time I took thinking through my answer. Here is my list of hired guns:
Lee Marvin: There used to be a Hollywood rule back in the day. To play a bad ass on the screen, you had to be one in real life. Few people were as bad ass as Lee Marvin. He was the kid that was kicked out school because he was a bad boy. Enlisted in the Marine Corps where he was shot by a machine gun during the Battle of Saipan. He drank, he womanized, he was a real jerk. But on screen, the guy was a panther who with minimal dialogue scared the shit out everyone around him – probably because he was a scary dude in real life. If the whiskey in the trunk lasted, he would be good to go.
Charles Bronson: Born Charles Dennis Buchinsky – the son of Lithuanian-Russian immigrants who didn’t even speak English when he was a kid. This guy worked in a Pennsylvania coal mine as a damn child laborer until WWII came around and he enlisted and was a gunner on a B29 in the Pacific Theater. Famous for playing tough guys his entire career and it is easy to see why when you looked at his biography and his lined and scarred face – this was a guy who lived a hard life. Famously blunt. When introduced to another actor and his wife, Bronson sized up the situation and said, ‘I’m going to marry your wife’ and proceeded to do so. That is so punk rock it isn’t even funny.
Danny Trejo: He has become something of a household name and his Machete movies are almost a parody running gag nowadays – hell, this guy was a soap opera star prior to his Robert Rodriguez work. But here is the thing, you wouldn’t have laughed at this guy back in the day. In and out of prison his entire young life, he was the prison boxing champion in San Quentin. Let that sink in for a moment, he was the prison boxing champion! One doesn’t earn that title by being anything less than the nastiest man in the yard. We are going up against the Cartel and need someone who speaks Spanish and kicks ass. We need Machete.
Mickey Rourke: Speaking of boxers – you have this guy. Before acting, he compiled an amateur boxing record of 27-3 and then fled Florida because he was wanted for burglary. He started his career as a sordid pretty boy actor whose notable accomplishments were the jaw dropping X-rated sex scenes with Kim Basinger and Lisa Bonet (at the height of her Denise Huxtable fame for crying out loud). This utterly shameless guy was violent and unmanageable on the set and eventually decided to go back to professional boxing where he was undefeated and pretty much disfigured from boxing injuries and fly by night plastic surgery. Back in acting now, he now gets Academy Award nominations. Some actors play tough guys. Micky laughs at those guys.
Steve Buscemi: Given the nature of the mission, we are going to need some comic relief and given Buscemi’s body of work, he would fit the bill. But no dead weight here, Steve was a New York City Firefighter prior to being an actor. During 9/11 when several fire departments were decimated, he put back on his firefighter uniform and helped his old firehouse look for survivors – no fanfare or media statements, just showed up and did it. He also came back on duty to help clean up after Super Storm Sandy, once again – no publicity. Also notable was the scar on his face – he got it from being slashed in the face with a knife when attempting to help a friend in a bar brawl. Sure if things went live, Buscemi would be there pulling his weight.
Which five actors would you take with you?