New York native Paul Reubens turned 60 today. For the legion of fans, young and old, who adore his eternally childlike Pee-Wee Herman character, the thought of the actor clocking up six decades is inconceivable.
Many Pee-Wee fans will not know that Reubens is also a much in-demand character actor with co-starring roles in films such as The Blues Brothers, Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, Mystery Men, Matilda and Batman Returns. SCREEN-SPACE puts aside the red bow-tie and grey suit and re-discovers some of the forgotten roles that Paul Reubens has inhabited over nearly 40 years in showbusiness.
Jack Chudnowski in Pray TV (1980):
Rick Friedberg’s scathing satire of religion-for-profit televangelists featured Reubens as the hairy-chested aerobics instructor Jack Chudnowski opposite Dabney Coleman’s immoral preacher. The origins of the character were in Reubens’ time with the iconic LA improv group, The Groundlings.
Albert/Hara Krishna in Meatballs II (1984):
The altogether unnecessary sequel to Bill Murray’s first hit afforded Reubens some free space to create a strong comedic impression as the bus-driving Albert, who morphs into the platter-spinning DJ Hara Krishna.
Max in Flight of the Navigator (1986):
Credited under the pseudonym ‘Paul Mall’, Reubens voiced the beloved character of Max, the alien spaceship computer, in Randall Kleiser’s much-loved family sci-fi adventure.
Arvid Henry in South of Heaven West of Hell (2000):
In some truly bizarre casting, Reubens played rapist and murderer Arvid Henry in director Dwight Yoakam’s much-maligned cult western, South of Heaven West of Hell, opposite similarly odd casting choices as Michael Jeter and Bud Cort. Despite scathing reviews, most agreed that Reubens stole the film from the likes of Vince Vaughan and Billy Bob Thornton in a characterisation that captured the eccentricity of the film perfectly.
Derek Foreal in Blow (2001; pictured, left):
Continuing his run of scene-stealing support parts, Reubens plays high-flying drug dealer Derek Foreal in Ted Demme’s true-to-life tale of hedonistic player George Jung (Johnny Depp), based upon Bruce Porter's 1993 book Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All.
Frank Baker in The Tripper (2006; pictured, right):
Director David Arquette gathered a great many of his kooky friends together (Courteney Cox, Balthazar getty, Lucas Haas, Jaime King, Jason Mewes) for this slasher send-up. Reubens played concert promoter Frank Baker, the man in charge of a hippie-themed fest that is sterrorised by a killer in Ronald Reagan mask.
Andy in Life During Wartime (2009):
Todd Solondz’ little-seen, pitch-black family dramedy (a sequel-of-sorts to Happiness) called upon Reubens to do some serious character work as Andy, the suicide victim who revisits Joy (Shirley Henderson) in one of the film’s most powerful moments (NSFW).