I was too busy to post anything when word came out about actor Roy Scheider’s death a little while ago, but I figured I’d throw in my two cents now, given that I did enjoy some of his speculative fiction film work.
To me, his best SF roles were Chief Brody in the first “Jaws” movie (while he held his own in “Jaws 2”, the rest of the film was limp) and Dr. Heywood Floyd in “2010”. What appealed to me most about Scheider in these roles was his ability to show us the everyman in extraordinary circumstances. Granted, some credit has to be given to the writers and directors of these films, but a lot rests on the shoulders of the actor. Who can forget Brody, a man afraid of the water to begin with, backing slowly into the cabin of The Orca, eyes wide after just getting a glimpse of the size of the monster shark hunting them, and intoning “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”? Or what about Floyd lounging around with Walter Curnow (John Lithgow) aboard Leanov, as tensions back on Earth between the US and Russia escalate and mysteries in space continue to grow… the two fall to musing about home and while Curnow says he misses “green” and goes on about the abstract beauties of nature, Floyd responds decisively “I’d love a hotdog.” What a great line! And delivered with the simple conviction of a regular guy who’s interested in concrete things that we can all identify with.
Roy Scheider was 75.