imdb page looks impressive, but it only covers a fracture of Austin Pendleton’s
work. While the movie industry largely sees him an eccentric character actor,
the theater world better understands his talents. Whether it is a grand
Broadway theater or an Off-Off Broadway cubby-hole, rarely a week goes by in
New York without a stage-production either starring or directed by Pendleton.
The instantly recognizable thespian finally gets an overdue cinematic ovation
in Gene Gallerano & David H. Holmes’ short documentary Starring Austin Pendleton (trailer here), which had a special Tribeca Talks screening
at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
see Pendleton, you will totally recognize him. He had recurring roles on Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street, as well as supporting parts in the
Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind and
the Oscar-nominated Amistad, but he
is probably best known as the stammering attorney in My Cousin Vinny. In fact, Pendleton has a lot to say about how he
came to terms with his close association with that film.
of his interview segments and those of his admiring colleagues (including Ethan
Hawke, Nathalie Portman, Peter Saarsgard, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman),
we get a sense of Pendleton’s generous spirit and professionalism. However, we
also see he can let loose some attitude when it is warranted. An appropriate
example is Janet Maslin’s dubious NYT
Magazine piece, in which she dubbed Jeff Bridges the “most under-rated
actor.” (At that point, Bridge had three Oscar nominations to his credit.) It
was a ludicrous piece, much like when Yahoo Movies features one-hundred-million-dollar
grossing films on listicals of overlooked sleepers. Viewers will second his
venting, just like Ethan Hawke.
thing that clearly comes through in the twenty minute short is the
adventurousness of Pendleton’s stage work. He is willing to give new works a
shot, simply because they are interesting. We’ve covered him as the star of the
fascinating Another Vermeer and the
director of the Pearl Theatre Company’s first Tennessee Williams revival, Vieux Carré, both of which took a bit of
guts, but the resulting productions were excellent.
Pendleton’s career could easily sustain a feature length American Masters treatment, but for now,
Starring is an admirable bite-sized
overview. It is also sadly fortuitous Gallerano and Holmes were able to record
Hoffman’s tribute to Pendleton, whom he credits for launching his stage career.
Anyone with any interest in the craft of acting should keep an eye out for Starring Austin Pendleton, following its
world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Austin Pendleton, Documentary, Short Films, Tribeca '16