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Get Serious: Comic Actors in Dramatic Roles
Posted September 27, 2010 to photo album "Get Serious: Comic Actors in Dramatic Roles"
Slide 10: Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers
As a stand-up comedian, Rodney Dangerfield built a career out of never getting any respect. But when Oliver Stone cast him as the cruel and abusive dad of Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) in Natural Born Killers, the director made sure that this character did not deserve any as well. It could have seemed like simply a bad joke, portraying a horrifyingly abusive and incestuous father as the head of a light-hearted family sitcom, as Stone did with his use of canned music and a laughter soundtrack. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman explains, “A flashback to Mallory's adolescence is staged as a foulmouthed sitcom, with her fetid, incestuous father played by Rodney Dangerfield––a bit of casting that quickly turns your laughter to shock.” But what makes the joke so devastating is Dangerfield’s skill in playing the scene straight, never winking or nodding to the conceit.