Henry Rollins is a jack of all trades. Whether he’s singing in Black Flag, driving a Hummer in Jackass: The Movie, or doing stand-up, the 54-year-old badass has been all over the place in his decades-long career. A career that, among these many notches in the belt, also includes several bouts of “serious acting” in (mostly) “serious films.”
Movies like Heat and Lost Highway, directed by the likes of Michael Mann and David Lynch, and starring highly-acclaimed actors like Al Pacino and Bill Pullman. Turns out, Rollins was along for the ride, too. The man has starred in a lot of films, documentaries, and television shows, so this list of Rollins’ ten best attempts at serious acting relies solely on his work in dramatic films.
Kiss Napoleon Goodbye
One of Rollins’ first films is one you’ve likely never seen or heard of for a very important reason. Kiss Napoleon Goodbye received a limited 1990 release in the Netherlands. Auteur director Babeth VanLoo’s film features Rollins as a man named Jackson, the third wheel in a surreal tryst that goes down at a couple’s secluded mansion. It’s bad, but it’s not The Room-bad.
The Chase includes such delights as Kristy Swanson vomiting all over a police cruiser’s windshield, Wayne Knight-lookalike Josh Mostel, and Rollins’ character Dobbs simulating what appears to be prison rape on a handcuffed Charlie Sheen.
Rollins’ turn as the techie Spider in the Keanu Reeves vehicle Johnny Mnemonic is all too brief, but the increasingly agitated musician-turned-actor displays more emotion in 30 seconds than most of his acting counterpart’s entire career. Or, at least he yells a lot.
Al Pacino beating the hell out of Henry Rollins during an unsanctioned police interrogation. Repeat, Pacino kicking Rollins’ ass all over his swank apartment. Drops the mic.
David Lynch wrote and directed Lost Highway, which is pretty much all you need to know about the film. While Bill Pullman’s Fred Madison undergoes his incredibly awkward prison-bound transformation, Rollins’ prison guard takes it all in on the sidelines. Maybe he remembers Dobb’s prison rape jokes from The Chase.
After Lynch, things became stagnant for Rollins’ stint as a “serious actor.” Most roles from here on out became caricatures of previous scene-stealing moments he’d tackled with most of the same character traits — angry yelling, facial twitching, and more yelling. Hence his enraged little league hockey coach in Jack Frost.
Scenes of the Crime
Otherwise, when he’s not playing angry, Rollins is too busy playing the henchman who’s slightly above basic henchman, but still a henchman (at least he’s not Kal Penn in Superman Returns). Besides, taking orders from a mid-ER Noah Wyle doesn’t seem all that bad.
When in doubt, try nudity. In Morgan’s Ferry, a non-musical version of O Brother, Where Art Thou? featuring Billy Zane, Rollins plays one of three escaped convicts hiding out at a reclusive woman’s house in the country. That’s great and all, but you get to see Rollins’ ass when he steps out of a washtub.
Bad Boys II
When henchman-ing and nudity didn’t take, Rollins went back to anger, yelling, and angry yelling in Michael Bay‘s magnum opus, Bad Boys II. As the unnamed leader of the TNT division, he gets to yell orders at everyone, have those orders utterly ignored by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and yell at them for not following orders.
The Devil’s Tomb
The only two “serious” things about this film are Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Rollins’ character’s priest frock. Yes, Rollins plays a priest in this otherwise ludicrous film. You’re welcome.