Jack "Eraserhead" Nance

Jack Nance is the Orson Welles of character actors.  That is, his greatest triumph came early in his career, and he spent the rest of his life trying to live up to it.  I speak, of course, of his epoch-making role as Henry in "Eraserhead", my all time favorite movie of all time, ever.  His haunted expression, his oppressed demeanor, his hang-dog bearing, all made that movie one of the most affecting and depressing experiences that one can hope for at the movies.  Of course, David Lynch deserves some of the credit as well.  But, as they say, "deserve" has got nothing to do with it.

Jack's later roles generally involved playing sidekicks.  Not that this is anything to sneeze at.  Many of our hall-of-famers are character actors, rarely getting the marquis role.  And Jack gave these characters depth, breadth, width, and even length, which is pretty tough in a three dimensional world!  Consider his eerie Paul in "Blue Velvet" with the immortal line "I'm Paul!!"  Consider his OO Spool in "Wild at Heart" discussing his beloved canine.  Consider his Harkonnen henchman in Dune, and his garage attendant in "Lost Highway".  And of course his lovable Pete from "Twin Peaks".  He also appeared in lighthearted romps such as "Johnny Dangerously" and "Ghoulies", but these can hardly be considered part of his oeuvre, but must merely have been paychecks to tide him over between his artistic triumphs.

But strange as Jack Nance's characters were, his real life took an ironic and bizarre turn in December of 1996.  Getting into an argument with two Hispanic men at a donut shop near his home, the feisty Boston native sustained major head injuries and fainted dead away the following day.  David Lynch is quoted as saying that Jack always said he "wouldn't be too hard to kill."  Maybe not, Mr. Nance, but your memory shall live on, especially at the Thursday Night Movie Club!

"My dog barks some. Mentally you picture my dog, but I have not told you the type of dog which I have. Perhaps you even picture Toto, from "The Wizard of Oz." But I warn you, my dog is always with me. WOOF!"
"She's dead!..... wrapped in plastic......"
"Don't drink the coffee! There's a fiiiissssh in the per-co-lat-or...!"
"I'm Paul!!!!!!"

"We may all be killed...."