Mike Starr: Beyond the Stereotype

Mike Starr

One of the most recognizable character actors of the past three decades has to be Mike Starr. With his hulking 6’3″ frame Mike cuts an imposing figure. As a result, much of his TV and film work have typecast him as a heavy, usually the muscle of mobsters. Says Mike: “I get a lot of calls for New York-oriented things, mob parts, cop roles. I think they stereotype me by size; that’s a bit of a pitfall. Some people bring me in for the big gentle guy or these killers. It’s hard to figure out what they think of me.”

But Mike’s versatility as an actor has not gone totally unnoticed by casting agents; nor by us movie geeks.

A native of Queens, New York, he landed his first acting part in The Bushido Blade, which he has acknowledged as a major influence on his career. Since that early ‘80s role Mike has deftly moved back and forth from the Broadway stage to television to film.

Here’s an abbreviated list of Mike’s notable appearances: “Of Mice and Men” (Broadway), “The Guys in the Trunk” (Broadway), The Bushido Blade, The Natural, Cat’s Eye, “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (Broadway), The Money Pit, “The Foreigner” (Broadway), “Crime Story,” Radio Days, Funny Farm, Punchline, Lean on Me, Blue Steel, Uncle Buck, Miller’s Crossing, The Bodyguard, Mad Dog and Glory, Cabin Boy, On Deadly Ground, Ed Wood, Dumb & Dumber,Law & Order,” Two If by Sea, “EZ Streets,” The Deli, “The Last Don,” Snake Eyes, Summer of Sam, “Ed,” Jersey Girl, “Joan of Arcadia,” The Ice Harvest, “The Odd Couple” (Broadway), The Black Dahlia, Doughboys.

Do you remember any of these memorable turns…?

Uncle Buck (as Pooter-the-Clown)

Goodfellas (as Frenchy the airport security guard)

[Frenchy is describing a large shipment of cash at Idlewild Airport to Jimmy and Henry]
Frenchy: Big score coming from Air France. Bags of money coming on. Americans change their money over into French money, send it back here…It’s totally, totally untraceable. Our only problem is getting a key, but I got a plan…If I’m right, there could be half a mil coming in, all cash.
Jimmy: What about the security?
Frenchy: Security? You’re looking at it! It’s a joke. I’m the midnight to eight man!

Mad Dog and Glory (as Harold the bodyguard)

Ed Wood (as schlock producer Georgie Weiss)

[On the phone, agitated]
Georgie Weiss: Look, look, look, when I said that you could have the western territories, I didn’t mean all 11 states! I meant California, Oregon, and, uh, what’s that one on top…
[Looks at map]
Georgie Weiss: Washington! Yeah, yeah. Oh, really? Well, screw you!
[to Ed Wood, indifferently]
Georgie Weiss: Hi, can I help ya?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Yes, I’m Ed Wood, I’m here about directing the Christine Jorgensen picture.
Georgie Weiss: Well, a couple of things have changed. It ain’t gonna be the Christine Jorgensen story no more. Goddamn Variety had to print the story before I got the rights. Now that bitch is asking for the sky.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Aw, you’re not gonna make the movie…
Georgie Weiss: No! ’Course I’m gonna make the picture! I already presold Alabama and Oklahoma. Those repressed Okies, they go for that twisted, perverted stuff. We’ll just do it without the she-male. We’ll fictionalize it.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Is there a script?
Georgie Weiss: Fuck no! But there’s a poster!
[Holds up poster that reads “I Changed My Sex”]

Dumb and Dumber (as kidnapper Joe Mentalino)