Five Essential Roles
Mystic River (2003)
John Doman appears in the first few moments of Mystic River, occupying just a little more than two minutes of screen time. But despite the size of the role, his character haunts the rest of the film. As childhood friends Jimmy, Sean and Dave write their names in a slab of freshly-concreated sidewalk, they’re interrupted by a large, imposing man pretending to be a cop. Watching the scene as an objective, adult viewer, we know that this “cop” isn’t a cop at all. But the way Doman berates and intimidates young Dave into getting into the car is so horrifyingly accurate. You can just picture this happening on any number of street corners all over the world. Doman often uses his commanding presence to help his characters get his way. A skill that’s never been more terrifying than it is here.
That screenshot certainly isn’t indicative of Doman’s full arc on FX’s Damages, but I couldn’t resist including it. The real Walter Kendrick is a ruthless CEO who has waged war on Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), the fiercest lawyer in New York. Throughout Season 2 of the show, Kendrick stops at nothing to protect his dangerous company. He ruins lives and orders deaths, all in the name of spineless capitalism. It’s a meaty role, one that Doman dives into with his unique brand of relaxed intimidation. And his scenes with Marcia Gay Harden (as Kendrick’s equally ruthless lawyer) are simply ace.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Similar to Mystic River, Doman isn’t in Blue Valentine for very long, but mere seconds after he’s introduced, we are frightened of him. The first time we see young Cindy (Michelle Williams) in her home, she’s sitting down to dinner with her aging grandmother, kind mother and perpetually grumpy father, Jerry. Jerry doesn’t care for his wife’s meal too much, so he picks it up and slams it down on the table. That, to me, is fear. Suburban and somewhat common fear, maybe, but few things are worse than sharing a physical space with someone who could erupt at any moment. I mean holy hell, can you imagine living with this guy? And, akin to Blue Valentine’s brilliance, how poetic is it to see Jerry in the later scenes of the film, sitting on his stoop, confined to his oxygen mask? What goes around comes around.
The Affair (2014)
Bruce Butler is a welcome deviation from the typical John Doman character. Sure, ol’ Bruce is a raging hardass who rarely has anything nice to say to anyone else, but what separates him from Doman’s other characters is class. Bruce Butler is a famous author who has penned nearly 20 books. His hobbies include sipping expensive wine, throwing parties at his Long Island mansion, and, most notably, humiliating his son-in-law, Noah (Dominic West). So essentially, Bruce is John Doman doing what he does best, but now with the security and arrogance of limitless wealth behind him. And my god, how much fun it is to see Doman bitching out West again on screen?
I haven’t watched all of Gotham’s first season yet, and in all honestly, it isn’t a show that’s very suited to my personal tastes. The main reason I decided to check it out (and ultimately stick with it) is Doman’s foreboding portrayal of mob boss Carmine Falcone. It’s such a delight to watch Doman slowly ease his way into the scene and chew lines like, “I never lose sleep over my enemies. It’s my friends that keep me awake.” Doman has been running in the game for a steady 15 years, and I absolutely love that at age 70, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
The Best of the Best
The Wire (2002-2008)
If you’ve seen just one episode of The Wire, there is absolutely no way you’ll forget Major William A. Rawls of the Baltimore Police Department. Rawls isn’t a hardass, he’s the hardass. His hyper-articulate, insanely profane method of berating is epic. Doman’s first big scene in The Wire took place early in episode one, sitting across from Det. McNulty (Dominic West), both his middle fingers raised in warning. “These are for you,” Rawls bellows. “These are for you for as long as it takes me to get even.” And from there, The Wire’s most entertaining rivalry was born.
But there’s more. On occasion, The Wire would grant us insight into who Rawls was as a human being. The best example of this is him consoling McNulty after a fellow officer is gunned down late in Season 1. The way he literally picks McNulty up off the floor and harshly explains that this cop’s injuries are not on him. It’s one of the most oddly moving things I’ve ever seen, mostly because it’s impossible to see coming. So while Rawls will always been known as The Wire’s chief asshole, I loved that the show explored his humanity, if ever so briefly.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
Mercury Rising (1998)
Mercury Rising (1998)
The Opponent (2000)
City by the Sea (2002)
Lonely Hearts (2006)
The Company Men (2010)
Burn Notice (2010)
Rizzoli & Isles (2010-2014)
The Good Wife (2011)
Person of Interest (2014-2015)
House of Cards (2015)
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