Crispin Glover movie roles always offer the promise of seeing something completely unexpected. While widely recognized as being prodigiously talented, the actor has intentionally crafted a professional reputation for himself as a risk-taker. He refuses to play it safe, preferring to take audiences by surprise with the wild choices he makes. This quality has had an unusual effect, in that he has somehow remained underrated. In other words, it's easy to take him for granted because he can't easily be put in any kind of box.
Although best known for movies like Back to the Future and Charlie's Angels, the actor has appeared on the small screen as well. Notable Crispin Glover TV roles include the miniseries Texas Rising and a two-episode arc on Family Ties. Wherever he pops up, you can always be sure that he'll be interesting and unforgettable.
To celebrate his career, we've chosen a number of his most notable film and television roles to spotlight. Although these examples are just a small sampling of his massive body of work, the goal is to showcase the diversity of the characters he's played, as well as the wide variety of genres in which he's worked. There's no doubt about it - Crispin Glover is awesome and eccentric in everything.
Far and away, Crispin Glover's signature role is George McFly in Back to the Future. He plays the nerdy father to Michael J. Fox's time-traveling Marty.
Glover does two things very well here. In present-day scenes, he dons makeup to play George as a slightly beleaguered adult with a goofy demeanor. In the scenes set during the '50s, he elevates the entire "teen nerd" stereotype, investing George with a lovable quality that makes us root for him to defeat bully Biff and win the heart of true love Lorraine. He makes the character's awkwardness endearing and provides Back to the Future with its heart.
Famously, Glover opted not to return for the sequels. Instead, the filmmakers put molds of his face onto another actor, then tried to pass that actor off as him. This led Glover to sue for violating his "right of publicity."
It takes a lot to make an impact through silence, yet Glover does just that in Charlie's Angels. He plays a silent assassin known as Thin Man who relentlessly stalks the Angels. He even takes on stars Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu in a three-against-one fight.
In a perfect example of his creative inspiration, it was Glover's idea to play the character as silent. He thought the dialogue written for Thin Man was corny and convinced director McG that he could make a bigger splash without speaking. Those instincts were correct. His performance is a highlight of the movie.
Tim Burton adapting Alice in Wonderland makes a lot of sense, and Crispin Glover being in a Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland makes even more sense. He plays Stayne, the Knave of Hearts and former lover to the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).
The actor's penchant for oddball delivery of dialogue and outrageous costumes are put to good use here. With flowing hair and a heart-shaped eye-patch, he's right at home in this over-the-top fantasy world. His scenes with Carter - another performer who embraces weirdness onscreen - have a real spark.
Oliver Stone's The Doors offered Crispin Glover a rare opportunity to portray a real person, the legendary artist Andy Warhol. He has a scene in which he meets Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) at a party and gives him a telephone so he can "talk to God."
The casting is perfect. For starters, with the wig and glasses, Glover is a virtual Doppelganger for Warhol. But there's also a subliminal element at play here. Warhol was famously eccentric, so seeing the equally eccentric Glover portray him feels absolutely right. Rather than doing a mere impression, the actor is perfectly suited to channel Warhol's mystique.