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That Guy: Michael Ironside

by on May 11, 2011
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The Film Yap Presents “That Guy” celebrates those character actors who are instantly recognizable as the glue that holds countless films together but who, because they are not huge movie stars, remain largely anonymous to the general moviegoing community. Say their name, and you’ll likely get a confused look; say “you know, that guy from ‘XXXX’,” and you’ll get a smile and nod of approval.

Thanks to Film Yap reader Travis Bow, who created this great image for us! Check out Travis’ other artwork at!

NOTE: This month marks the return of the “That Guy” image contest. The above image of this month’s “That Guy,” Michael Ironside, is a still from one of his films, but has a series of images inserted in the photo that allude to some of his other roles. The objective: Tell us via e-mail at what films all five images are from, what they refer to, and the film our image was taken from. One lucky winner will win a free Blu-ray or DVD of their choice from The Film Yap Movie Ditch, and other fabulous prizes! Contest ends Friday, May 20 — get those guesses in!

If you want a go-to actor to play the villain who does his job — and, all the better, hurts the good guys in the process — you probably should give Michael Ironside a call. His role as the deadly Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s classic “Scanners” was but one film in a long string of them where Ironside left movie characters menaced, heroes bloodied and populaces in terror. His no-nonsense demeanor has also served him well in playing military officers and take-no-crap mentors.

A seasoned veteran in the field of television acting, Ironside was a regular in the landmark sci-fi series “V” and played parts in shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Smallville,” “Cold Case,” “Criminal Minds,” “SeaQuest DSV,” and the list goes on.

Cold and intimidating, with an icy stare to match, you’ll rarely see an Ironside character smile — unless, of course, he sees someone is strapping plastique to a Cocker Spaniel or picking up vice grips reminds him of what he did to that hobo the night before.

Here are a few of Ironside’s more memorable bastards, creeps, charlatans, and, you know, the occasional gruff good guy as well.

Richter, “Total Recall” (1990)

We already knew Ironside was not a cat to be trifled with by this point, but the true extent of his badassery really came when he went against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Quaid in this sci-fi classic. Richter takes Quaid’s girl (Sharon Stone, no less, though technically she was already Richter’s and only pretending to be Quaid’s), takes his livelihood and chases him all over Mars — and he does get a good shot in on Quaid. That’s what happens when you pork his old lady. ‘Course, Richter’s trip ends less a couple of appendages (a recurring theme in Ironside’s career, given he was also missing an arm or two at some point in “Starship Troopers,” “The Machinist” and “Guy X”).

Jester, “Top Gun” (1986)

A hard-nosed Top Gun flight instructor, this is one of few Ironside roles in which he isn’t a villain. True, he does antagonize Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards), but it’s all in the name of making them better pilots. Jester is tough but fair and, in the end, teaches our heroes a few new tricks. Defeating Jester during combat training marks a step up in their abilities.

Dial, “Free Willy” (1993)

Ironside is not above slumming it in a kiddie film playing your typical cheesy villain. Mike gotta eat, you know. Here, he plays the millionaire owner of Willy, the orca that young juvenile delinquent Jesse (Jason James Richter) wants to liberate. Dial’s plan? Kill Willy, collect some insurance money. Of course, when the juvenile delinquent’s foster dad is Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), you might take him seriously.

Darryl Revok, “Scanners” (1981)

OK, I take it back … this was the first indication Ironside wasn’t a cat to be trifled with. Just look at that picture. That’s telekinetic head-exploding there, not M80s.

Jean Raczak, “Starship Troopers” (1997)

Ironside again plays a rough-and-tumble military veteran, this time one who has lost an arm in combat. He has become a high school teacher, one whom Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) considers a mentor. He also teaches Johnny to think for himself (well, kind of), and when stuff goes down, Raczak jumps right back into the thick of it — coming out of retirement to fight the enemy like any true soldier would.

What’s your favorite Michael Ironside role? Leave a comment below!


Previous “That Guy” Columns:

Danny Trejo
Brian Cox
Keith David
Tommy “Tiny” Lister
Jeffrey Jones
Frank Langella