”The Big Friendly Giant”
David Morse really embodies the premise of the actor who’s face audiences remember but who’s name they do not often recall.
I had grown up seeing Morse in the background of numerous films, but it was Sean Penn’s underrated and impeccable directorial debut ‘The Indian Runner’, where I was first deeply affected by his performance in a film. Penn’s film is based on the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Highway Patrolman’, about two brothers who cannot connect on their values. Morse plays Joe Roberts, a family man and small town sheriff, who attempts to curb his younger brother Frankie’s (Viggo Mortensen) destructive and violent nature by encouraging him to start a family. Morse plays this character with layers of subtle vulnerability and strength, while trying to come to terms and understand his brothers anger towards the world. I urge you to watch this film if you ever come by it in a second hand record shop or video store. It is to this day, in my opinion, one of the greatest films ever made and Morse delivers the greatest performance of his long and fruitful career.
David Morse got his first break on the Richard Donner film ‘Inside Moves’, was given a role on the medical series St Elsewhere in 1982 for six years, and since then has continued to deliver recurring and captivating performances in major Hollywood films as supporting actor. He has moved back and forth between television, films and theater throughout the years but is probably remembered most for The Green Mile. His almost 6’5 broad frame is in direct contrast to his demure voice and quiet demenour. Morse often plays the kind hearted supporting role, but he is also outstanding as the villain in films like Disturbia, 16 Blocks and The Negotiator. Morse has played supporting lead to Kevin Spacey, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and the list goes on.
In my opinion, his other best role comes in Sean Penn’s second film ‘The Crossing Guard’, starring opposite Jack Nicholson. Morse plays John Booth, a drunk driver, who’s attempts to rebuild his life after being released from prison for the accidental hit and run of a young girl is disrupted when her disturbed father, played by Jack Nicholson, seeks revenge against him. Morse brings his usually sensitivity to the role. Choosing to play Booth as vulnerable and self-destructive. He is plagued by his own guilt for having killed a young girl and so we, the audience feel a great deal of sympathy towards a character who if we otherwise saw on a news telecast, would not.
In 2002 Morse was given the lead role on the short lived television series ‘Hack’ and continued to take minor parts in films - Dancer In The Dark and The Rock. Morse continues to star in television roles, previously recurring role on House and a current role on the HBO series Treme. Morse, sits within the Top 5000 stars on imdb but has earned his place as one of the greatest actors of all time. Although, he sits on the outside of Hollywood, he is recognised within the business and called upon time and time again to deliver subtle, sensitive and moving portrayals throughout his major and minor roles.
Best Roles: The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard, Crazy In Alabama