John Malkovich's disturbing short film, "Butterflies"

The boundary-pushing actor stars in a visually arresting new video by an L.A. production company

Published May 12, 2011 6:13PM (EDT)

Cleaving John Malkovich
Cleaving John Malkovich

Sometimes I feel bad for John Malkovich. With a voice simultaneously soothing and menacing (like Kevin Spacey's, if he didn't talk like a robot), and his penchant for taking on psychopaths ("Con Air), sociopaths ("Dangerous Liaisons") and the straight-up unhinged (playing himself in "Being John Malkovich"), the actor isn't really known for his on-screen charisma so much as his damn creepiness.

But, of course, that's why we love him: John Malkovich picks whatever the opposite of vanity projects are, and doesn't shy away from the weird roles. In just the latest example of bizarre career choices, he appears in a demo reel for Gentleman Scholar, a Los Angeles production house that describes its work as "bringing together experience in live-action, design, and animation, for commercials, music videos and interactive content, creating visually arresting solutions for forward-thinking brands."

"Butterflies," the video Malkovich stars in, is certainly visually arresting. It's also going to give you nightmares.

If I knew what Gentleman Scholar was selling me here, I'd buy 100 of them. But the only explanation for this video on the site reads like a creepy poem:

I have this idea in my mind for a painting about butterflies. Blue and green and yellow butterflies, tumbling out of my brain. I think it’s going to be good. I feel like I can almost touch them ... like they’re right there for me to grab as they’re flying away ... out of my skull and taking all those dark thoughts and little devils with them. Just fluttering away and leaving the good stuff behind. Butterflies. I’m going to get my canvas and my paints. I think I’m all better. I think I’m ready to leave.

Sorry, did I say I want 100 of these? I meant 1 billion. Sign me up: I'll give them to friends for Christmas.

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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