Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goodbye Ron Silver

Yesterday Sally and I watched the 1990 movie, Reversal of Fortune, then found out via TV news that actor Ron Silver had died. Although Silver played lawyer Alan Dershowitz, on whose book Reversal of Fortune was based, he wasn't the lead character. The two leads were Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close as Claus and Sunny von Bulow, respectively. The movie presented more than one point of view, relegating the Dershowitz character to an almost secondary role.

But Ron Silver was no second banana. You've seen him on various television programs and in some movies, but he was primarily a stage actor, and that's the way he comes across on screen. He projects to the last row. This picture of him as Dershowitz, with his eyes burning, is typical of his style, which I'd describe as intense.

I saw him play a quiet role, once, in The Arrival, starring--of all people--Charlie Sheen. Silver played Sheen's boss in a less histrionic manner, but you couldn't help but think there was something underneath the quiet, and there was.

Ron Silver was 62, and died after a two-year fight with esophageal cancer.

The thing that surprised me--or not, in retrospect--was that Silver went from being a liberal to a conservative "9-11 Republican" as he called himself. Under the right circumstances anyone can change a political viewpoint. Look how many Republicans voted for Obama. But that isn't what I'll remember about Ron Silver. I'll remember the burning eyes and the way he could take a scene away from another actor. Even Jeremy Irons, whose Claus von Bulow portrayal is one of the screen's greatest, took a backseat in some of the scenes he played with Silver. That's talent!

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