Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I got what I want. Okay? I got what I want.

Chris Penn died yesterday in his Santa Monica home. Cause of death is unknown, but there were apparently "no signs of foul play."

He was 43.

In 2004, literary goddess Cintra Wilson wrote about the lesser Penn in her ongoing Salon feature about underrated actors. Here's an excerpt:

It's hard to tell if Chris Penn has benefited as much as he's suffered professionally from the relation to his brother, the Great Sean, The Great Ahctor with a Capital Ah. He's just as talented as Sean -- just a lot less cocky. Chris is an expert at the one complicated emotional state Sean doesn't really display much of -- red-faced humiliation. Ego crush. The hyper-vulnerable, exposed weakness of the bed-wetter, the fuckup, the sad sack, the hapless loser, the beta male -- which, I think, in terms of pound-per-pound acting skill, is one of the hardest things to do. I think it's kind of easy for a skilled, handsome actor with an imagination and an ego to act like the sexiest mahfugger in town -- James Dean, Marlon Brando, Sean Penn -- but it takes someone really fearless to look openly lame, shamed, screwed-up, dumb and scared. A character who knows he is not and will never be Slick King Fabulous, while he does not inspire oiled-torso photo spreads in Vanity Fair, is ultimately way more intriguing and sympathetic, for that is the painful secret at the core of being a human being -- nobody is Slick King Fabulous, even when he is. This is a generous giving of the fragile, flawed self as opposed to a flexing of dreamy ego-might. As Prince says, in "Pop Life," everybody wants to be on top, but Chris Penn beautifully demonstrates how rich the agonies of life can be about a third of the way down.

3 comments:

Jess said...

Um. Is she implying that Sean Penn is handsome & sexy?

vikkitikkitavi said...

I guess, sort of. But she does say this too:

"Chris Penn is underrated for a few reasons -- most obviously, he is clearly not one of the Atkins billions who cotton to Hollywood vanity; he gives off the enviable impression that he is constitutionally incapable of trying too hard and is too real with himself to really give a shit about his waistline. The only reason this is unfortunate is that his uh, "relaxed" physique has deprived us of seeing him in a wider range of roles, let alone leading roles. Plus, he never got to enjoy the interesting, respectful cult love that gets thrown at weaselly, pretty-boy oddballs and whining perverts like Crispin Glover or Vincent Gallo. But he could have had it if he'd wanted it enough to be vain: Chris Penn was beautiful once, prettier than Sean ever was. His eyes are bigger, bluer and sadder; he had big round curls in his rust-colored hair, and thick, pouty red lips ... he'd have made a perfect Caravaggio subject as a teen, the innocent, betoga'd orgy-boy holding a wooden bowl of grapes."

Yay: "whining perverts like Crispin Glover or Vincent Gallo..." Cintra Wilson is so awesome.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Maybe this is the Hoosier hick in me but I fell in love with him when he danced in Footloose.