Actors seem to have a nomad public life. Since there’s no more Studio System, they are left with their own public persona to keep them alive and busy. When they are in their Prime, they get calls from their agents with 5 to 10 projects and they can choose which one they want to be involved with, but when they’re not, they either take what comes, whatever it is, or simply find something else to do.
Bruce Dern’s extraordinary performance in Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ is not the first job he’s had in ages, as some may think. In fact, he hasn’t stopped working, mostly in supporting roles; some of them very generic and not too showy in films like Joe Dante’s ‘The Hole’, Coppola’s ‘Twixt’, Patty Jenkin's 'Monster',and even Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’.
To younger generations, he’s been just a face in the crowd, and some may even know him because is the father of actress Laura Dern. But the Best Actor prize in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival reminded Hollywood of this excellent and forgotten actor who’s been in the business for quite some time. His first uncredited work was in 1960 and had to learn to adjust to different techniques of production during the very changing 70’s, as he worked for Hitchcock and Roger Corman and also shared the screen with legendary Bette Davis in ‘Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte’.
Back in the 70’s it was the peak of his acting career, displaying works for Walter hill in ‘The Driver’, Sidney Pollack in ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t they?’, Hal Ashby in ‘Coming Home’ and Bob Rafelson in 'The King of Marvin Gardens', before he started to fly low for three decades.
Suddenly, 2013/14 has become his resurgence. ‘Nebraska’ is the best performance of his career, and his agent is calling him again with some interesting characters in future films.
Sometimes, an excellent actor gets swallowed in the non-stop celebrity machine, and if they’re lucky, they’ll run into a film that will put them back where they belong. Bruce Dern, an actor, more than a celebrity, is back for good.
Here’s a list of his most distinguished performances in a 50-year plus career.