Monday, March 22, 2010

Great Villains of the 1980's: William Atherton

Today I'm rolling out a new series of columns here at Cirroc, in which I pay tribute the actors who brought us the most memorable villains of the 1980's. Every era has a handful of actors who find themselves typecast as the heavy, but for my money, the 1980's had the best array of jerks, archenemies, demented authority figures, and masters of the slow burn.

I begin with one of the biggest standouts: William Atherton.

Atherton had a string of hits in the mid-1980's, and for a while he was the go-to guy for the insufferable yuppie villain. The kind of guy who slowly gets under your skin with his unctuousness and his cheap, government-salary suits. This guy was literally born with his chin upturned at a 45-degree angle. He was the perfect villain for the Reagan era. In three of his big blockbuster roles, he plays different manifestations of the liberal bogeyman: in Die Hard, a reporter (and member of the liberal media) who endangers the safety of blue collar police officer Bruce Willis; in Ghostbusters, a nosy EPA agent whose strict observance of regulations destroys a small business (and hastens Armageddon); and in Real Genius, a corrupt academic who sleeps with his students and defrauds the government. I think Atherton was probably a dick in real life, too, because he hasn't had much work since the 1980's. Even the Die Hard series left him behind after part 2.

Dick or no, I salute Atherton and his worthy contribution to 1980's pop culture. Put on Ghostbusters the movie (or the new video game, which features his voice acting), and pay tribute to this classic commie pinko villain.

Next week: Michael Ironside


Allison Manch said...

I don't know how you can top Atherton...he's the best

Anonymous said...

What are you looking at? You're laborers; you should be laboring. That's what you get for not having an education.