There are individuals that excel at playing the sidekick, the henchman, or just the creepy-looking character that stands out when they allow themselves to be known. Through no fault of their own, or perhaps on purpose, they end up becoming awkward and take on the role of being the strange but somehow endearing characters that people might laugh at but still believe have some use. Tracey Walter is one such character that’s been around since the 70s and has excelled in the awkward roles that have painted him as the kind of guy that you might feel is a bit of a rat or a weasel or someone that isn’t entirely trustworthy, but is still useful in some strange way. Much of his act has been the same since he tends to play similar characters that can lean one way or the other when it comes to their moral compass. But a lot of times his characters have been seen to swing one way or another when it comes time to show their allegiances since depending on the character he’ll go one way or the other with a nudge that’s probably needed since his characters sometimes have a tough time making up their minds.
One such character that a lot of fantasy fans might be able to remember Tracey playing is that of Malak, the thief from Conan the Destroyer that sticks with the Cimmerian and is essentially a coward when faced with any odds other than those he believes he can handle. That usually meant facing down anyone other than a child since Malak wasn’t particularly brave, but he was an opportunist and he did end up siding with his companions more often than not. In the opening fight of the movie, the thief did manage to end the life of one of his and Conan’s shared opponents before being caught and held until the barbarian calmed down. Throughout the rest of the movie, it was established that Malak had been around for a while after the first movie since he knew of Akiro, the wizard that Conan had met before taking on Thulsa Doom. It was never really established where Subatai, the archer from the first movie, went to, but perhaps he found a woman and finally made his own life. As far as the second movie went it was a bit over the top and kind of campy, but it was still fun, and as much of a rat as he was, Malak was a nice addition. Of course, there were moments when he was less than helpful since he didn’t want to incapacitate a wizard due to the ‘bad luck’ that it might have brought, and he did leave Conan’s side at the end of the movie to become a court jester of sorts, with Conan’s blessing of course. Let’s put it this way, Malak was loyal to Conan, but he wasn’t the bravest individual a lot of the time.
Other roles that he’s taken on have been just as great since he was Bob the Goon in the 1989 version of Batman, and he played a rather good henchman to Jack Nicholson’s Joker since he didn’t appear too bright, but he was loyal to a fault, even going so far as to hand the Joker a gun when he called for it, only to be cut down since the clown prince of crime was frustrated at that particular moment and needed to shoot someone. No one ever said that being a henchman was going to be easy since Bob did everything the Joker said and followed him without question, but when you’re following someone that can turn on you at the drop of a hat it’s not exactly wise to think that your loyalty is going to be rewarded. But up until that moment, Bob was someone that was easy to like in such a role since he was convincing enough to make people think that he was little more than a rat-faced toady that was willing to do anything his boss told him. That’s the kind of skill that Tracey has, he can get the audience on his side or firmly set them against him since he does play each role with such conviction.
He’s taken on so many roles in the course of his career that he’s actually done more to help various movies and TV shows than some of the main actors, even if he doesn’t get the kind of recognition one might think that he’s due. If he’s ever expressed a desire to be recognized in a bigger way it would be hard to say since he’s continued to show up on the screen for years, and he keeps on doing what he’s best at. The actor is in his 70s now so it’s hard to see him being too active in a role, but throughout the years he’s been a lot of fun to watch.
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