Wednesday, January 23, 2008

HDH: Russell "HW" Harvard

Spoiler from There Will Be Blood ahead. Don't read if you haven't yet seen the film.


Today marks the first time that an actor with a disability has been featured on Hump Day Hottie. And I didn't even know that I was being inclusive. Whenever I am particularly drawn to a performance by an unknown actor be it in a large or a tiny role, I take note. So only after I started IMDB'ing, gathering info for this post did I realize that they had cast the older H.W. Plainview role appropriately.

<-- Russell with Paul Dano at the There Will Be Blood premiere

H.W. is played by two actors in There Will be Blood. The first is the eerily still Dillon Freasier who gets the bulk of the screentime (one of many strong child actor performances this year). During There Will Be Blood's explosive gusher sequence, the film's most mesmerizing setpiece, little H.W. tragically loses his hearing. Many years later we get reacquainted with the character as a grown man, played by today's subject Russell Harvard (official site). H.W.'s hearing has never returned to him in the intervening years. Marlee Matlin (still the most famous deaf actor) would be proud: they cast an actual hearing impaired actor in the role.

In most of the pictures to be seen of Mr. Harvard on line he looks scruffy / attractive rather than truly...


But in the film, well, let's just say he cleans up real nice. Period pieces tend to do that to people. Why did everyone look so beautiful in the 20s, 30s, 40s? And can we bring those styles back? I mean back for everyone. Not just for George Clooney, who is always working the old Hollywood glamour, always abusing that pomade.

Back on topic... In a smart symmetry, Harvard plays H.W. just as still, observant and internal as the child actor who came before him. The same disappointment, love and anger intermingle. Well done. Meet Russell Harvard: one of my nominees in the Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo Role category at the FB Awards.

previous 'Hump Day Hotties'
Carice Van Houten is a star and
The Beautiful Decay of Helena Bonham-Carter

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

H.W. is played by 3 actors......
baby included ;)

adam k. said...

Random, but Nat, are you having as much trouble as I am coming up with a list of 5 best ensemble nominees?

The trouble is that in some of the best ensembles, there's one person who just doesn't really work (No Country, Juno, Hairspray and to some extent Atonement with Romola Garai, but that one's not a big deal). And then there are some, like Michael Clayton and The Savages where the acting's great (er, at least I've heard it is in the Savages) but there are so few actors and they're rarely working together.

The only one I'm pretty sure I could include with no second thoughts are I'm Not There, which I didn't even love on the whole, but the actors really have to be on the same wavelength and yet all have their own unique challenges (they're acting together even when they're not), and they all pull through.

Hairspray and Atonement are choice as well, though Travolta is acting in a different film in the former, and Garai doesn't quite convince me she's the same person as Ronan and Redgrave in the latter.

Sigh.

Paul C. said...

Hard to argue with any of the nominees in this category, but how about Barry Corbin in NO COUNTRY? His delivery of the key monologue in the film is just dead-on.

Rural Juror said...

I totally agree. The second he was on screen, I was hooked.

James Henry said...

Don't know if anyone caught/loved him but Roger Bart in "American Gangster" just made that movie for me. He's only onscreen for about 90 seconds, but it's a damn riveting 90 seconds (plus, he steals that scene at the airport like no one's business).

And you have to love Paul Dooley as Mr. Spritzer in "Hairspray" if only for the lines "Get that chubby Communist off my show" and (I'm paraphrasing here) "More people are breathing aresol than oxygen!"

Saveferris said...

Where is Brian Cox in Zodiac?

And Bill Murray in The Darjeeling Limited?

John T said...

The cameo categories are always my favorite Film Bitch Award nominees-once again, a fine lineup Nathaniel. Can't wait to see the ladies!

Nick Davis said...

The signed "H-O-T" is fannntastic. And I love these nominees, Hodnett and Jones and O'Byrne especially. And McNichol. (Does it count as "especially" if I just named four of the five?)

Michael C. said...

Excellent calls in the cameo category, especially Bill Hodnett who slipped my mind until I saw him in your line up. How great was his final scene?

Still, I confess a twinge of disappointment not to see Charles Fliescher for my single favorite scene in Zodiac, the "alone in the house" scene. He exudes the perfect mix of ambiguity and menace. Unforgettable scene.

Anonymous said...

The older H.W. was effective in "There Will Be Blood". It's nice to see him remembered in something like this.

NATHANIEL R said...

Nick i take it that means you weren't into Harvard from this lineup. anyone I forgot?

Anonymous said...

bruce campbell in spider-man 3!!

Carl said...

Political/ADA correctness aside, I had a problem with Harvard's casting when I watched "There Will Be Blood". As I understand it, the odd vocal quality that is classically associated with people who have been profoundly deaf all their lives, like Harvard and Marlee Matlin, is generally not found in those who learned to speak prior to losing their hearing. H.W., as I remember, went deaf at age ten, well after his speech patterns were firmly established. He, therefore, should have had speech patterns and a vocal quality similar to natural speakers of English.

A small thing, I know, but it abruptly took me out of the movie when he started talking to his "Dad" near the end of the film. Anyone out there with more direct experience and expertise on the subject...am I wrong?

Nick Davis said...

Oh, no, I thought Harvard was fine - and I do actually think you're allowed to nominate whoever you want. Seeing as how they're your awards and all. I just was super-psyched about the other four, because I doubt I would have thought of any of them except O'Byrne and yet they were all such fond memories from those films. Perfect instance of why I always get so excited about your choices in these cameo categories. So, it really was a kudo. I'm not always engaged in doublespeak.

Gregory said...

Howdy everyone! If I can, I would nominee him! I know him well from Texas School for the Deaf. Actually he was my classmate. He's ROCKZ! He did very good job with his first show- CSI-NY as Cole Rowen. He and I graduate together in 1999. So please SUPPORT HIM!!! :)

Banerika said...

I knew I wasn't the only one riveted by Russell Harvard in this film! Talk about acting chops, down to the way he clenches his jaw as he stands up to leave after signing "Thank God there is no part of you in me." Bravo Russell Harvard. Please, casting directors, hire him in a larger role.