Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Undiscovered Stars

Harry Groener first knocked my socks clean off on Broadway. When I sat down - iced tea in hand and insomnia settled firmly over me - to write a small appreciation for this arguably underappreciated actor, I had no idea he'd been on Broadway at all - let alone that he'd dazzled me with the talent of his performance in "Crazy For You." That immediately qualifies Groener to be the first recipient of Codemorse's Undiscovered Stars award.

Harry Groener belongs to that most hallowed category of thespian: The "Character Actor." The "Hey, it's that guy" guy. The sort of fellow who's kicked around in film and television for decades - solid, dependable, and never quite hitting that next level. The Movie Star level.

But Groener's a talent that'll live on for decades to come, despite his lack of notoriety. He's been in everything - and that's not much of an exaggeration. He's done stints on Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere, Matlock, Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Law and Order, Home Improvement, Mad About You, Just Shoot Me, Boston Public, King of the Hill, The Drew Carey Show, Malcolm in the Middle, The West Wing, Monk, and The Bernie Mac Show.

That's just television. He's also popped into film from time to time, in Road to Perdition, About Schmidt, Amistad, and that most risible of Robin Williams films, Patch Adams.

But people probably know him best as Mayor Richard Wilkins III, arguably the cleverest villian who isn't named Angelus to have come out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

His performance on that show was, by turns, hysterically funny and deeply disturbing. Somehow, Groener turned a man with a Ward Cleaverish disposition into someone genuinely frightening.

Despite the talent growing clearly from his ears, Groener continues to be a relative Hollywood non-entity. That's a shame. Still, one can't feel too terribly for a man who's stepped in to fill Tim Curry's monumental shoes as King Arthur in Broadway's "Spamalot." On top of Groener's skills in TV and film, he's an accomplished stage actor - earning Tony nominations for "Crazy For You," "Cats," and "Oklahoma." Given that pedigree, I'm puzzled as to why Joss Whedon couldn't figure out a way to slip Groener's Mayor back into Buffy for the musical episode.

Hollywood, if you're listening, give this man more work. Good work. Showy, big-time, blockbuster work.

Harry Groener, we salute you.


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Love Mayor Wilkins, as much as he loves milk.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Ahhhh but if he enjoys what he does and is good at it why ruin a good thing by turning him into a "star". I think I'd rather be what you described than get woek in "blockbusters".

At 12:57 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And he loves milk quite a bit.

I'm not proposing to ruin him, Scott. Just that I'd like to see him working in projects that allow him to spread his wings and earn the kind of dosh that folks with half the talent get for putting on a poofy wig and looking confused (I'm looking at you, Orlando Bloom).

Much as I've enjoyed his work, he should be working more - and in better projects.

That said, if he's happy, of course I'm happy for him. As I said, having the lead in Spamalot is no small potatoes.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And welcome back, by the way. Hope your vacation was restful.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Thanks, it wasn't restful in the least, but a heckuva good time.

I think it's excellent that he's got the lead in something as good as Spamalot (my boss saw it and said it was grrrr-eat). And of course I'm sure you were just wishing a favorite actor well. I was just positing that perhaps he's loving what he's got and sometimes if you try and spread your wings you get shot down. Of course sometimes you don't and then you get a big ego and end up sucking.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Hmmm....either way, that sounds horrible.

Stay where you are, Groener!


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