Judgment Night (1993)
Greene’s work in the fun little thriller, Judgment Night, admittedly isn’t all that substantial. As one of the inner-city goons who terrorize a handful of yuppie suburbanites, Greene spends most of his time in Judgment Night standing in Denis Leary’s shadow. I don’t remember Sykes, the character, as much as I remember Peter Greene, the actor. I was young when I first saw Judgment Night, but I knew even then that Peter Greene was going to be a person to remember. He did what he could with a somewhat thankless role, and managed to turn it into a solid career of psychos.
The Mask (1994)
I’m surprised Greene hasn’t played more characters like Dorian Tyrell, the kind of cartoonish bad guy who terrorizes a family friendly film. We love to watch guys like Dorian in films like The Mask, even though we know he’s going to lose. And as Dorian, Greene chews the scenery with nearly as much gusto as Jim Carrey. Whether he’s having a golf ball driven out of his mouth, or stalking Cameron Diaz like feeble prey, there’s a captivation to Greene’s Dorian that helps elevate The Mask above other films of its kind.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
“Well… bring out The Gimp.”
“I think The Gimp’s sleepin’.”
“Well I guess you just have to go wake him up now won’t you?”
One of the most terrifying dialogue exchanges with one of the most terrifying movie characters I’ve ever seen. Period.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
I’ve always thought part of the allure of Redfoot was his choice of clothes. He’s an L.A. criminal dressed in cowboy boots, black jeans, and a bright tan leather jacket. The clothes, picked out by Greene himself, are as inviting as they are off putting. It’s as if Redfoot is a new guy on the scene we can trust, yet we know he’s going to fuck us over in the end.
Greene’s two scenes in this film create a brilliant juxtapostion. He’s initially a guy meeting up with his old pal, shooting the shit and proposing a new score. But once Redfoot is bathed in dark, chain smoking and shot from a low angle, we know things could pop off at any minute. For those two scenes, Peter Greene owned The Usual Suspects.
The Rich Man’s Wife (1996)
Here’s a rarity in Peter Greene’s filmography: a nice guy who is willing to do the right thing. The first time Cole offers Josie (Halle Berry) help, she knows better than to accept, and we silently cheer as she sends Cole on his way. But then she slowly opens up and gets to know Cole, a kind, quiet man with earnest intentions.
Cole truly is a good guy. Until, well… he’s not. Even though you may know where this is going, Greene always manages to heighten the suspense and shatter our expectations.
The Best of the Best
Clean, Shaven (1993)
Peter Greene’s work in Lodge Kerrigan’s criminally ignored Clean, Shaven is one of the best performances of the ‘90s. In the film, Greene plays a schizophrenic man who has just been released from a mental institution, and is having a damn hard time trying to live in the real world. Peter Winter is a troubled, obsessive man. His days are filled with extended bouts of manic paranoia, fueled much in part to the voices in his own head. I’m hesitant to describe the actual plot of the film, as it clocks in at a brisk 79 minutes, and would be unfortunate to spoil.
Despite the film’s Criterion treatment, Clean, Shaven has never managed to attract a large audience. Damn shame. Because, aside from being expertly made, the film contains a performance of sheer dread. A fearless, paranoid portrayal of mental illness that measures with the best. Do yourself a favor and seek Clean, Shaven out. I promise the film, and Greene’s work in it, will rattle you to the core.
Other Notable Roles
|In Training Day|
Laws of Gravity (1992)
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)
Permanent Midnight (1998)
Blue Streak (1999)
Gentleman B. (2000)
Training Day (2001)
The Black Donnellys (2007)
Life on Mars (2009)