That Actor Whose Name You Don’t Know: Tcheky Karyo

That Actor Whose Name You Don’t Know: Tcheky Karyo

That Actor Whose Name You Don’t Know: Tcheky Karyo

Some actors you simply don’t forget since they have very memorable faces and they tend to be great enough on screen that it’s almost impossible to miss them whenever they show up. The only problem with some of these great actors is that they either have names that people can’t often pronounce correctly or for one reason or another their name is never the biggest draw when it comes to their person. Tcheky Karyo’s list of appearances is insanely impressive with no doubts, and his beginnings in French movies could be one reason why a lot of people didn’t know much about him in America unless they’d been following him for so long. But with his move to American movies, usually playing a French character which has been his specialty, he’s become one of the most well-known faces in show business and is among those that can play a very convincing villain or a grizzled but worthwhile hero that people can get behind. The 67-year old Karyo is among those that know how to take on a role and inject enough of himself into it without making that role the same as every other he’s ever taken on, which is great since the audience doesn’t have to sit and wonder just what angle he’s using but also don’t worry that every single character he plays is going to be exactly the same.

It feels safe to say that one of the roles that really made him stand out in American movies came during the movie Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. At that time it’s likely that not a lot of people knew who he was outside of France, but it wasn’t hard to see that he might become a big deal after his ruthless performance as Fouchet, a drug lord/terrorist who has no trouble gunning down cops, or trying to, and is arrogant beyond all belief. Karyo did star in another movie as a hunter, and it’s one that a lot of people might remember titled The Bear since at the time it came out it was given just enough hype to give it a bit of a push. The only downside of the movie was that the actors weren’t really noticed as much since the titular animals kind of took center stage. But to be fair, Karyo’s career was already pretty solid by the time he hit America as another big name and all it took to keep things rolling was a little exposure and a few key roles to showcase his talents.

He did play a part in several movies before Messenger: The Story of Jean of Arc, which starred Milla Jovovich as the leading character, but as I’ve mentioned, there are simply roles that highlight an actor in different ways and make them more noticeable. In the highly embellished story of the maiden savior of France, he played the part of Jean de Dunois, a commander that was more exasperated with his king’s lack of funding, the ongoing war effort, and the idea that the king had sent a young girl to aid him when he needed more men to beat back the English. But when Joan was seen to rally the troops with her mere presence and a powerful speech he had her back and despite being tired and grizzled he continued to do his duty, no matter how reluctant he was to believe in miracles. Another role that saw him as a hero figure, in some way, was The Patriot, which was another bit of revisionist history that people enjoyed since he starred opposite Mel Gibson and played the part of Major Jean Villeneuve, a vengeful man who was all about liberty and killing the British to pay for the deaths of his family. He was a serious but sometimes comical presence in this movie since he mixed the two elements in such a manner that they simply worked without question to create a character that was honor-bound but also had plenty of issues to work through since his character stated that he watched his family being burned alive by the British. In many ways, the audience was made to care about Jean and desire vengeance for his family, but they were also made to feel that he would take things to a very disturbing level if it was allowed.

Tcheky has played in a few less than noteworthy movies as well in his time such as Kiss of the Dragon with Jet Li, which I thought was better than people gave it credit for, and The Core, which in retrospect isn’t realistic in a lot of ways but was still meant to be a movie that people could get behind simply because it was an action movie. But one thing you can say about Tcheky Karyo is that once you DO learn his name you don’t tend to forget it.

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