February 14, 2000
This week's Boyfriend has been on the list for a mighty long time, so I thought I'd better feature him before I completely forget to. Because forgetting Robert Carlyle would be a sin no god could ever forgive, friends. Why? Because he's not only a great actor, he's also just plain cool.
And it's about time I featured somebody totally hip anyway.
What makes Robert Carlyle cool? Let me count the ways. Well, first of all, he's Scottish (+20 hip points). 'Nuff said, really. He was raised in Glasgow by his father, after his mother left him when he was four (I just don't understand women like that). When he turned 21, he stumbled across Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible," read it, and was so inspired he immediately enrolled in acting classes. (+10 hip points, though "The Crucible" was never one of my favorites.)
He pretty quickly became disillusioned with the standards of the theater (or, "theatre"), though, and in 1991, he co-founded an independent theater dedicated to supporting independent work (+20 points). Now, that's pretty cool. Even cooler: he named the company "Rain Dog" after his favorite Tom Waits album (+300 points).
One of the things I find refreshing about Robert (I mean, besides his crooked smile) is that in interviews, he really sounds like you'd expect him to and not like a generic Hollywod superstar. None of that cleaned-up teamplayer speak ("I just wanted to get out there and support the film.") Robert Carlyle speaks his mind. For example, in one interview, he was asked about a rumor that suggested he strongly disliked a co-star. His reply, "That's all bollocks! The British Press are scumbags, the worst!" When asked why he refused roles in both "Braveheart" and "Rob Roy," he replied, "I wasn't into being a hairy-arsed Highlander, charging up a hill, to be honest." Sounds a bit snooty, maybe, except that the REAL reason he refused those roles, which comes out later in the interview, is that Carlyle thinks movies about Scotland need to be about TODAY'S Scotland if they're going to have any kind of serious impact. Case in point: "Trainspotting," a gritty, graphic film about heroin users. No, REALLY gritty and graphic. And also very, very good.
Actually, Trainspotting was the first Robert Carlyle film I ever saw, and I really didn't take much notice of him at the time (cuz he was the mean, scary guy, Begby). Imagine my surprise upon seeing "The Full Monty" for the first time and realizing that nekkid sweetie was actually BEGBY! Just goes to show you, Robert Carlyle is not a man you can typecast. After The Full Monty, I saw "Ravenous," in which Carlyle plays a man who likes to EAT PEOPLE (and not just so he can survive long enough to trek out of the Andes, either). And now I hear he's back to playing a nice guy, Malachy in "Angela's Ashes." But look! What's next? Daffy in "The Beach" -- a peripheral character, but a very odd and creepy one indeed. By the way, I haven't actually SEEN "The Beach," but I read the book and it was total crap. From what I hear, the movie's going to be even worse, and I'm not just saying that because Leo is the star.
But let's get back to the point. The point is, the man is extremely talented. He does scary terrifically well. He does sweet terrifically well. And he's smart and cool and can talk like he's fresh outta the Scottish gutters. All qualities I admire in a man.
So, if you don't know Robert Carlyle, it's time for you two to meet. My advice would be to rent "The Full Monty" first; start out with the gentle daddy and work your way up to the cannibal. You won't be sorry when you get there, I promise. (By the way, also in "Ravenous," and it took me almost the whole movie to make the connection, is the nerdy cop guy from "L.A. Confidential"! He's actually the STAR of Ravenous but he looks so unlike his LA Conf character that I honestly did not recognize him for an hour! Hey, that guy's actually REALLY CUTE! Watch for him in an upcoming Boyfriend feature.)
MacGyver Factor Score: 98.6%. Really, he would've scored high even if he had been a miserable actor with no charisma at all -- all you have to do to impress me is be a fan of Tom Waits. That takes a special kind of person and I have yet to meet one I haven't liked. But Robert has the extra bonus of being talented, cute, funny, cute, smart, and cute! I love it!
IMDB page on RC.