The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Gary Busey. Gary Busey is the man, the “Straight to Video Classics” king. His life on and off the camera is inspirational, a beacon of hope to all thespians lacking talent but tightly clutching their peroxide hair bleach.
His story starts with his acting debut on the TV western “High Chaperal.” Busey’s bulky physique and animated acting helped him get several cinema roles as wacky, off-the-wall characters. His most critically acclaimed moment came in his first leading role in the movie “Buddy Holly.” Busey did all the guitar and vocal work and got himself an Oscar nomination. This is the kind of start I love to see in a straight-to-video actor. The downfall from glory to hustling for B-movie roles really helps an actor’s appeal go through the roof. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Busey went on to play roles in major films like “Lethal Weapon,” “Predator 2,” “Under Siege,” “Point Break” and “Black Sheep.” As his roles got smaller and his opportunities diminished, he began to participate in lower budget films to supplement his income.
That’s when Gary Busey got sweet.
He started partying hard and eventually got nailed by the police. Soon Busey found spirituality and proclaimed that he was through with drugs, alcohol and spousal abuse. His reinsertion into the spotlight did not help him get any more major movie parts, but the straight-to-video industry was screaming for him. He starred in “Universal Soldier 2,” making him the only Oscar-nominated actor to star in two different sequels in which he had no part in the originals. In 1999 he starred in two Master P-directed movies. The first, “Hot Boyz,” starred Silkk the Shocker and Snoop Dogg. Busey had a more important role in “No Tomorrow,” where he co-starred across from P. His most recent work was last year’s “Tribulation.” Busey’s straight-to-video future looks bright.
To fully appreciate Gary Busey, though, you need to watch him in his two best films: “Surviving the Game” and “Hider in the House.” “Surviving the Game” starred Ice-T, another legendary actor. In it Busey is part of a wealthy posse that takes bums off the street and tricks them into going with them into the wilderness. Once there, the posse hunts the man. Busey is the first of the hunters to be killed by T, but their fight scene is the best part of the film.
Busey keeps the spotlight on himself in “Hider in the House.” Busey plays a man who has just been released from the mental hospital. Surprisingly, he is nowhere near recovered, and the first thing he does is find a house with an attic to call his home (unbeknownst to the Dryers, the residents of the house). While chilling up there he makes figurines of the family living downstairs and plays with them in his spare time. Soon he starts making his presence known outside the house, posing as a neighbor. He gets close with the Dryers while they remain clueless about his room in the attic. Things get weird when Busey teaches the Dryers’ son to fight. Things get even weirder when he finds out that the father, Phil Dryer (Michael McKean), has been cheating on his wife Julie (Mimi Rogers). Busey ends up dropping bombs on Phil, but doesn’t get the reaction he wants from Julie. He ends up going on a rampage in the house, only to be shot and killed by Julie.
While “Hider in the House” defines Gary Busey, Gary Busey defines the characteristics of the perfect straight-to-video actor. So next time you are having a nice meal, toast to Gary Busey: May his hair always be bleached and his skin always be artificially tanned.