Rip Torn - Rotten Tomatoes

Rip Torn



Rip Torn may qualify as a "character actor" in the broadest sense of the term -- he typically fleshes out variations on the same role again and again, typecast as genially earthy, volatile, and loudmouthed good old boys. But, love him or hate him, Torn's roles over the course of more than half a century are distinct and pronounced enough to have elevated him above many of his contemporaries, into a veritable staple of American cinematic pop culture.



Born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr. in Temple, TX, on February 6, 1931, and nicknamed "Rip" by his father, Torn attended Texas A&M as an undergraduate and studied animal husbandry. He intended to establish himself as a rancher after graduation, but first opted to pursue an acting career as a means to buy a ranch, mistakenly believing that he would hit Hollywood and achieve instant stardom. Instead, Torn scrounged around Los Angeles for several years as a dishwasher and short-order cook, but continued to pursue acting in his off time. Torn's persistence paid off, and he eventually landed several bit parts in movies and television series. He moved to Manhattan in the late '50s, where he formally studied acting under Lee Strasberg and danced under the aegis of Martha Graham; a wealth of movie roles followed over the next several decades, beginning with that of Brick in Actors Studio associate Elia Kazan's controversial classic Baby Doll (1956, with a script by Tennessee Williams) and, a few years later, the role of Finley in another Williams drama, the Richard Brooks-directed Sweet Bird of Youth (for which Torn received a great deal of notoriety). Additional supporting roles throughout the late '60s and early '70s included Slade in Norman Jewison's The Cincinnati Kid (1965), I.H. Chanticleer in Francis Ford Coppola's You're a Big Boy Now (1966), and Sgt. Honeywell in Cornel Wilde's Beach Red (1967).



In the late '60s, two key (albeit temporary) shifts occurred in Torn's career. First, he went counterculture (and arthouse) with an unofficial trilogy of experimental roles. In the most pronounced -- Joe Glazer in Milton Moses Ginsberg's Coming Apart (1969, opposite Andy Warhol regular Sally Kirkland) -- Torn plays a nutty psychiatrist who specializes in female neuroses and decides to film all of his sessions, then his own mental breakdown. (Ginsberg films all of the action as reflected in a mirror.) The X-rated picture -- which features graphic sequences of Kirkland performing fellatio on Torn -- was (and is still) widely derided as spectacularly bad. Variety hit the proverbial nail on the head in 1969 when it concluded, "The problem with Coming Apart is that while it suggests some interesting ideas, it can't deliver any of them in cogent form....The results are not satisfactory." Neither are the second or third installments in Torn's "experimental" phase: roles in the first and third features directed by literary giant Norman Mailer, Beyond the Law (1967) and Maidstone (1970). Of Law -- an improvisational, comic piece set in a precinct house (with Torn as a character called Popcorn), The Motion Picture Guide sneered, "Barney Miller may have been inspired by this movie," and Roger Ebert declared it unintentionally funny, but those were the kindest reactions. Maidstone -- a fragmented, barely coherent drama -- stars only Mailer, as a politician-cum-film director, and Torn. This partially improvised picture became notorious for an on-camera sequence in which Torn (playing Mailer's half-brother) attacks Mailer with a hammer (allegedly for real), sans forewarning, bloodying up the author's face while the actress playing his wife screams in the background. Some wrote the scene off as a fake, but many others dissented. Variety observed in 1970: "[Torn] states he had to do it to make his character real and for the film. But he claims he pulled the hammer and had never drawn blood before while acting. The Mailer character is furious and vindictive. Mailer would not disc

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Norman Mailer: The American
  • Actor
2012
No Score Yet 3 Weeks to Daytona
  • Sal
2011
63% The Afterlight
  • Carl
2010
28% Happy Tears
  • Joe
2010
No Score Yet Lucky Days
  • Actor
2010
No Score Yet Cat Tale
  • Actor
2010
No Score Yet The Legend of Awesomest Maximus
  • King Looney
2010
No Score Yet American Cowslip
  • Trevor O'Hart
2009
28% Chatham (The Golden Boys)
  • Captain Jerry
2009
60% Turn the River
  • Teddy Quinette
2008
36% August
  • David
2008
51% Bee Movie
  • Lou Lo Duca
2007
No Score Yet Three Days to Vegas
  • Joe Wallace
2007
No Score Yet Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show
  • Actor
2007
55% Marie Antoinette
  • King Louis XV
2006
3% Zoom
  • General Larraby
2006
30% The Sisters
  • Dr. Chebrin
2006
6% Yours, Mine & Ours
  • Commandant Sherman
2005
59% Forty Shades of Blue
  • Alan James
2005
32% Eulogy
  • Edmund Collins
2004
No Score Yet Rolling Kansas
  • Oldman
2004
70% Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story
  • Patches O'Houlihan
2004
13% Welcome to Mooseport
  • Bert Langdon
2004
42% Love Object
  • Mr. Novak
2003
39% Men in Black II
  • Zed
2002
11% Freddy Got Fingered
  • Jim
2001
No Score Yet Big Brother and the Holding Co. With Janis Joplin: Nine Hundred Nights
  • Narrator
2001
81% Wonder Boys
  • Q
2000
No Score Yet Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows
  • Actor
2000
96% The Insider
  • John Scanlon
1999
No Score Yet The Almost Perfect Bank Robbery
  • Bob Royce
1999
No Score Yet Balloon Farm
  • Harvey Potter
1999
No Score Yet Passing Glory
  • Father Grant
1999
No Score Yet Seasons of Love
  • Spence Vitt
1999
6% Senseless
  • Randall Tyson
1998
92% Men in Black
  • Zed
1997
83% Hercules
  • Zeus
1997
43% Trial and Error
  • Benny Gibbs
1997
12% Down Periscope
  • Admiral Winslow
1996
No Score Yet James Dean: A Portrait
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet For Better or Worse
  • Captain Cole
1996
61% How to Make an American Quilt
  • Arthur
1995
14% Canadian Bacon
  • Gen. Dick Panzer
1995
No Score Yet Letter to My Killer
  • Russell Vanik
1995
100% Where the Rivers Flow North
  • Noel Lord
1994
3% RoboCop 3
  • CEO
1993
No Score Yet Fires of Kuwait
  • Narrator
1992
No Score Yet Beautiful Dreamers
  • Walt Whitman
1992
No Score Yet T Bone N Weasel
  • Happy Sam
1992
No Score Yet Hard Promises
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Beyond the Law
  • Deputy Butch Prescott
1992
No Score Yet Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster
  • Yost
1992
No Score Yet Dolly Dearest
  • Dr. Resnick
1992
No Score Yet Columbo
  • Leon Lamarr
1991
No Score Yet Pair of Aces
  • Capt. Jack Parsons
1991
97% Defending Your Life
  • Bob Diamond
1991
No Score Yet Death Falls
  • Actor
1991
No Score Yet By Dawn's Early Light
  • Fargo
1990
No Score Yet Sweet Bird of Youth
  • Boss Finley
1989
No Score Yet Silence Like Glass
  • Dr. Markowitz
1989
No Score Yet Death Falls
  • Dub Farley
1989
No Score Yet The Telephone
  • Director
1988
No Score Yet Hit List
  • Vic Luca
1988
No Score Yet April Morning
  • Actor
1988
45% Nadine
  • Buford Pope
1987
71% Extreme Prejudice
  • Sheriff Hank Pearson
1987
No Score Yet Laguna Heat
  • Joe Datilla
1987
No Score Yet J. Edgar Hoover
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson
1987
No Score Yet Manhunt for Claude Dallas
  • Tim Nettleton
1986
No Score Yet Beer
  • Buzz Beckerman
1985
15% Summer Rental
  • Scully
1985
No Score Yet The Execution
  • Actor
1985
No Score Yet The Atlanta Child Murders
  • Lewis Slaton
1985
21% City Heat
  • Primo Pitt
1984
100% Songwriter
  • Dino McLeish
1984
No Score Yet Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Big Daddy Pollitt
1984
No Score Yet Misunderstood
  • Will
1984
No Score Yet Flashpoint
  • Sheriff
1984
64% Cross Creek
  • Marsh Turner
1983
42% Airplane 2 - The Sequel
  • Kruger
1982
No Score Yet Jinxed
  • Harold Benson
1982
42% The Beastmaster
  • Maax
1982
No Score Yet A Stranger Is Watching
  • Artie Taggart
1982
No Score Yet Blue and the Gray
  • Actor
1981
17% First Family
  • Gen. Dumpston
1980
No Score Yet Rape And Marriage: The Rideout Case
  • Charles Burt
1980
No Score Yet One-Trick Pony
  • Walter Fox
1980
No Score Yet One-Trick Pony
  • Actor
1980
No Score Yet Sophia Loren: Her Own Story
  • Carlo Ponti
1980
No Score Yet Scooby Goes Hollywood
  • C.J.
1979
100% Heartland
  • Clyde Stewart
1979
No Score Yet The Seduction of Joe Tynan
  • Sen. Kittner
1979
No Score Yet The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
  • Dwight Webb
1978
79% Coma
  • Dr. George
1978
No Score Yet Betrayal
  • Doctor Hartogs
1978
No Score Yet The Steel Cowboy
  • Actor
1978
No Score Yet Nasty Habits
  • Maximilian
1977
83% The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Nathan Bryce
1976
No Score Yet Birch Interval
  • Thomas
1976
No Score Yet Crazy Joe
  • Richie
1974
No Score Yet Payday
  • Maury Dann
1973
No Score Yet Slaughter
  • Dominick Hoffo
1972
No Score Yet The President's Plane Is Missing
  • George Oldenburg
1972
No Score Yet Cotter
  • Actor
1972
71% Tropic of Cancer
  • Henry Miller
1970
No Score Yet Maidstone
  • Raoul Rey O'Houlihan
1970
No Score Yet Coming Apart
  • Joe
1969
No Score Yet Sol Madrid
  • Dano Villanova
1968
No Score Yet Beach Red
  • Gunnery Sgt. Ben Honeywell
1967
80% You're a Big Boy Now
  • I.H. Chanticleer
1966
No Score Yet One Spy Too Many
  • Alexander
1966
85% The Cincinnati Kid
  • Slade
1965
No Score Yet Critic's Choice
  • Dion Kapakos
1963
No Score Yet Hero's Island
  • Nicholas Gates
1962
75% Sweet Bird of Youth
  • Thomas J. Finley
1962
85% King of Kings
  • Judas
1961
No Score Yet 24 Hours in a Woman's Life
  • Actor
1961
No Score Yet Pork Chop Hill
  • Lt. Walter Russel
1959
No Score Yet Time Limit
  • Lt. George Miller
1957
92% A Face in the Crowd
  • Actor
1957
100% Baby Doll
  • The Dentist
1956

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
No Score Yet Law & Order: Criminal Intent
2001-2011
  • Jules Copeland
81% 30 Rock
2006-2013
  • Don Geiss
No Score Yet Will & Grace
1998-2006
  • Lionel Banls Lionel Banks

Quotes from Rip Torn's Characters