Jon Gries: The Chameleon You’ve Seen Everywhere
You’ve undoubtedly seen Jon Gries in numerous movies, but you might not recognize him for one reason or another. While he doesn’t physically transform much for his roles, he has an uncanny ability to wear each character and use it to great effect. Gries has a knack for blending into his roles so seamlessly that some people either overlook him entirely or need to be reminded of his presence in a particular film. Others, however, can pinpoint some of his most memorable performances.
A Career Spanning Decades
Gries has been in the industry since the late 60s and is currently 63 years old. He’s one of the many actors who started young and is still around, even if people don’t always fully recognize him without a specific costume or character. One movie that people might recall him from is The Monster Squad, but there’s a good reason for this: his human persona didn’t have as much screen time as the character he played, the Wolfman.
Upon revisiting the film, it’s a pleasant surprise to see that Gries hasn’t changed much in appearance over the years, just picking up a bit of grey hair and a few wrinkles along the way.
The Wolfman: A Complex Character
In The Monster Squad, the Wolfman was a somewhat conflicted character. The human side of his nature wanted nothing to do with Dracula’s schemes, while the beast went right along with the power-hungry vampire. There’s a scene in which the human aspect is chained to a chair and looks drugged or perhaps just tired as Dracula waits for him to ‘slip into something more comfortable’. It’s not too hard to see how that role would slide by and not be remembered by many people since The Monster Squad didn’t exactly achieve legendary status.
From Men in Black to The Rundown
Jon Gries also appeared in Men in Black in the opening scenes as the guy transporting a van full of illegal immigrants across the border. His involvement in that movie was brief, as Tommy Lee Jones quickly took over and didn’t relinquish control until Will Smith entered the scene. Gries has participated in numerous movies but has almost always been a supporting actor or a type of extra that’s there to serve a purpose and then disappear within a few scenes.
One notable role he took on was opposite Christopher Walken in The Rundown with Dwayne Johnson and Sean William Scott. Gries played Harvey, a man running a gold-mining operation in South America with his brother, played by Walken, and was in charge of security. Harvey was the kind of weasel-faced individual that you knew didn’t have a lot of authority and would have been too weak without his brother there to do much of anything, especially since he couldn’t control his temper. In other words, he was a toady, someone that had power because of someone else but didn’t really know how to use it. Gries played the part well, and watching him get his butt handed to him by Johnson was quite entertaining.
Uncle Rico: A Love-Hate Relationship
Of course, there’s one role that a lot of people know and have mixed feelings about: Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. To be fair and honest, Uncle Rico is a jerk for the most part. He’s the kind of guy that might have had greatness at one point in his life but had to watch it slip away when he let one dropped pass get in the way of his dreams. After that, he became a pretty miserable person who tried to get ahead in the shadiest ways he could think of, which were indeed crooked but not quite as diabolical as they could be.
Somehow, Uncle Rico was almost easy to pity since he had once had a shot at life, but had, as you can already imagine, dropped the ball. As far as Jon Gries goes, though, he’s had a pretty successful career, and his ability to disappear into his roles is a testament to his talent.
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