Brian Dennehy, big mouth of American cinema, unforgettable bigot and sly Sheriff Will Teasle in Rambo, is gone at the age of 81 years. And of natural death can we add, in these troubled times by the Covid-19 epidemic. It was the daughter of the actor, Elizabeth Dennehy, who announced the sad news on her Twitter account.
Among the many tributes paid to the missing actor is notably the moving message left by his old accomplice James Woods, with whom he had shared the poster on two films, including the sensational thriller Pacte with a killer. “I am devastated to learn that we have just lost my friend and colleague Brian Dennehy. We were partners on two of my favorite films, Split Image and Pacte with a killer. I have never laughed so much every day on a shoot than on this film. For a tough guy, he was the same tenderness. “
From History to the cinema
Of Irish origin, a true force of nature and an accomplished sportsman, Brian Dennehy entered Columbia University in New York thanks to a mainly sports course. A graduate in History, he then entered Yale University to study Dramatic Art. Between 1977 and 1979, he chained small roles, including one in A la recherche de Mr Goodbar, Elle by Blake Edwards, or F.I.S.T. by Norman Jewison. However, it is with Rambo, where he plays the role of a bigot and reactionary sheriff opposing the arrival of a Sylvester Stallone, veteran of Vietnam in his village, that the actor bursts the screen. This role, as well as that of Sheriff Cobb in the western Silverado, is one of the rare bastards that the actor has interpreted during his career.
Although it is above all marked by countless appearances on the small screen, Brian Dennehy’s filmography often plays eclectic roles. In 1983, he shared the poster for the thriller Gorky Park, alongside Lee Marvin and William Hurt. He continues in a completely different register with Cocoon, a science fiction film by Ron Howard. He often confined himself to the roles of silent and determined cops, with sometimes troubled motivations, like the dyptique FX Effet de choc / FX2 very special effects. This is also the case for Pact with a killer, where he camps an ex-policeman converted into a writer, and teaming up with James Woods as a hitman. In 1987, British filmmaker Peter Greenaway offered him the role of Stourley Kracklite in The Belly of the Architect. This role of composition, where he plays a paranoid architect, obsessed with his work and suffering from excruciating stomach aches, earned Brian Dennehy the Best Actor Award given at the Chicago Film festival.
Brian Dennehy became a little more rare on cinema screens in the years 1990-2000, devoting himself essentially to television and the theater. In 1996, however, he agreed to lend his features to Ted Montagüe in Romeo + Juliette, the legendary story of cursed lovers revisited by Baz Luhrmann. In 2004, he played a small role in the comedy She hate me by Spike Lee, before agreeing to star in Assault on central 13, a remake of the cult film by John Carpenter.
All the same active, Brian Dennehy connects the supporting roles in cinematographic productions as different as The Ultimate Gift (2006), Law and order (2008), Every Day (2010), Funny birds (2011) or even Knight of Cups (2015). At the same time, he gives voice for the needs of Pixar Ratatouille (2007), participates in two episodes of the series The Good Wife and slips into the skin of a recurring character in the police series of Edward Burns Public Morals which starts in 2015. In 2019, he was still filming in the Blacklist series, which he had joined since season 3 in 2015.