So many smarmy roles, so little time. Christopher McDonald fans come out of the woodwork to praise their unsung hero's performances in movies like "Quiz Show" and "SLC Punk."

By Salon Staff

Published May 25, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

Great googley-moogley! How can you write about Christopher McDonald and not mention his role as smarmy/slimy lawyer/father in "SLC Punk"! I think it's his funniest work.

-- Brion Ryan

In her rundown of the spotty career of the wonderful character actor Christopher McDonald, Cintra Wilson forgot to mention one fantastic script that was, in fact, handed to him: "Quiz Show" (1994), in which he played the by turns smarmy and cynical host of "21," Jack Barry. It's a great turn in a movie full of smart moments and knowing character portrayals, material that for once let him rise to the occasion.

-- Joey Drasner

I too have been a longtime fan of Christopher McDonald without really knowing his name. I always thought of him as "you know, the guy, Christopher something or other." I have also tortured my friend whenever he has come on-screen with, "Oh man, look at that guy. He is so funny. One of the best character actors out there."

I really enjoyed your article, which will hopefully make more people appreciate this comic marvel. But you missed one of his greatest roles: the game show host Tappy Tibbons in "Requiem for a Dream." His performance adds just the right amount of humor to this darkly moving film. It is amazing that, with all the powerful images and lines in this film, the one that has stuck with me for years is McDonald's "We've got a winnner."

In this film, he finally got a script and a role worthy of his incredible talent.

-- Tom Mitchell

OK, I have enjoyed Chris McDonald's presence on film quite often, and also think he is quite handsome, but Cintra Wilson's attitude that he has somehow been ill-used and cheated is way off the mark. Hasn't he chosen to be in these terrible films time and time again? Perhaps he isn't any better than that.

-- Stephanie Schwartz

Has Cintra Wilson forgotten? Christopher McDonald played the perfect meteorologist in "The Perfect Storm." He was sportscaster-clear, making a Hollywood epic a very intimate film, forewarning us of human loss, reminding us that "sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you" and that nature can be horrifically beautiful.

-- Alice Singleton

I was disappointed that, in Cintra Wilson's article bemoaning the lack of appreciation for actor Chris McDonald, she failed to mention the best role he has ever played: Kent Mansley in 1999's "The Iron Giant." Although disappointed, I'm not surprised. We as a culture always seem to overlook and underrate voice actors. But for me, Chris McDonald has never shone through as brightly as he did in his role in the animated film "The Iron Giant."

-- Charles Russell

I enjoyed the piece on one of the most underrated comedic actors of our time, Chris McDonald. But how can you write a career retrospective and leave out his brilliant work in "SLC Punk"? He really inhabits the role of Stevo's dad and, despite Matthew Lillard's hyperkinetic performance, still gets off some of the best lines, my favorite being when after Stevo flips off his parents he mutters that his kid will make a hell of a lawyer one day. Or the classic, "I didn't sell out, I bought in."

-- Stephen Baker

Right on target with McDonald. But you failed to mention his small -- yet equally artful -- turns in two prestige productions: the literate quiz show host in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show" and the salesman put down by Frances McDormand in a flashback -- or is it a dream sequence? -- in the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There." If you haven't seen them, run to them. You'll love 'em ... or at least, you'll love him even more.

-- Juan Carlos Ampie

Thanks to Cintra Wilson for her sweet and well-deserved tribute to Chris McDonald. Perhaps the most misused he has ever been was in last year's Project Greenlight, where millions of viewers got to seem him dropped in favor of another underappreciated actor, Bill Sadler.

-- Fran Diamond

I first noticed Christopher McDonald as a starship officer who falls in love with Denise Crosby's character, Tasha Yar, in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." For the role, McDonald employed a quite believable Spanish accent, and was able to play a romantic role for a change. (Why don't casting directors ever notice how handsome this guy is?) Thanks for featuring this actor -- he's been overlooked too long.

-- Irene A. Norris

Salon Staff

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