So sorry to hear of Peter Boyle’s passing. Depending on the project, truly one of the funniest or scariest actors on the planet.
I had the pleasure of working with him when I directed EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. He was a pussycat but you were always on your toes. He would forever look at you like he knew something you didn’t. That could be very unnerving because at times he did, and other times he was doing that just to fuck with you.
Peter was a little challenging initially, trying to size me up. I’d come to expect that my first day directing a new cast. “Who is this skeesix and why does he think he can direct?”
(Quick aside: I was originally intimidated by big name feature actors. The day before I was to direct Malcolm McDowell I said to a friend, “This guy starred in CLOCKWORK ORANGE and now I’M telling him where to move?” to which he said, “Yeah, but he was also in CALIGULA.” )
The first scene I blocked with Peter took place in the backyard of Ray’s house (although still on the stage). There was to be a hamster funeral in the rain. The effects people had rigged the set for rain. The actors took their places and the First AD asked if I wanted to turn on the rain. I said no. We started working through the scene and at one point I gave Peter some minor direction. He didn’t do it. I asked him again. He still didn’t do it. I called out to the First AD, “Okay, turn on the rain just where Peter is standing! Nowhere else!” He laughed, did my suggestion, and we were great the rest of the time. I loved working with him...and learning from him.
His list of film credits is enormous and impressive. He’s probably best known for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN but my favorite, and one he was particularly proud of, was a little known movie called JOE. Netflix it if you can. Peter plays a foul-mouthed hippie-hating reactionary in the 60’s. It’s a chilling portrayal, far scarier than the similarly themed EASY RIDER.
The last few years I saw him he didn’t appear to be in great health. But you’d never know it by his performance or hard work in rehearsal.
When you list the great ones in television comedy: Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Phil Silvers, Dick Van Dyke, Sid Caesar, Bob Newhart, and a few others. Right at the top of that list put Peter Boyle.
I can’t believe he’s gone. Holy crap!