Every month I will look at an actor, actress, or filmmaker I grew up loving and who informed my career (if calling what I do in the industry qualifies as such) in writing or performing. Films are supposed to be fun, entertaining ventures allowing an escape from mundane day-to-day happenings. Why not celebrate the uncelebrated, folks. Join me on my quest as I gush over those who inspired me to put words on a website that will never equate what it means to be honored by their peers at an official award show or film festival.
Miles Dougal is one of the greatest actors of the 21st Century you may not know. He’s the type of actor who, once cast, makes scenes stronger and the film better. His pinpoint accuracy for finding the best way to play a scene is a prime example that some people have “it” and others don’t. Some actors can train a lifetime waiting for their big break to come and it never happens. A small number of actors are born with a gift to entertain. Miles is in a smaller number of actors: the gifted kind. However, if you talk to Miles about acting, you might get the impression he could take it or leave it. The man with pitch perfect comedic timing could probably walk away at any moment, living the rest of his life listening to old 45s and watching Cubs games. Shit man. What the hell am I doing with my life?!
Okay folks, full disclosure: I know Miles Dougal. Don’t let that deter you from anything I’ve said thus far, because it is all true. I’ve known Miles for around 10 years. Our paths cross every few years when Miles’ old pal and genius writer-director-actor-smoothie maker Adam Rifkin makes a film or television show. Rifkin has also been my mentor for 10 years. The greatest advice he ever gave me was, “cast Miles in everything you ever make.” When I asked why Rif always casts Miles in his projects the answer was, “Miles is hilarious!” Over the past 10 years I’ve seen Rif’s answer was an understatement.
Miles broke into the scene in 1993s “Psycho Cop Returns” as Brian, the spazzed out office co-worker who tries to warn everyone they’re being watched by deranged Officer Joe Vickers. There are many reasons to love this Rif Coogan joint, but Miles is on par with the gore and boobies as one of the true standouts of the film. He also pulls double duty in the film as Spongehead, the titular character in the stag film the boys watch while watching Julie Strain and company strip to a wicked rock song that should’ve taken titty bars across America by storm. In “Psycho Cop Returns” as the nerdy pencil pusher, Miles takes command of every scene he is in like a hurricane or hilarity. After years of fans waiting patiently, “Psycho Cop Returns” finally found its way to blu-ray thanks to the fine folks over at Vinegar Syndrome. The disc is a newly restored 2k transfer and restores all the fantastic gore previously cut from recent releases here in the states.
A year later Miles shared screen time with Henry Rollins and Josh Mostel in the back of a speeding squad car in the Charlie Sheen vehicle “The Chase.” Ahead of the zeitgeist by a decade or so, Rifkin’s script and Dougal’s performance gave audiences an advanced look at how sleazy producers in Hollywood, especially those of Reality Shows, can be. Even with a gun in his face (spoiler alert. Did I do that right?) Miles’ Liam Segal cares about one thing only, getting the perfect shot for his pseudo cops reality show. Even the questions he feeds the cops before they find them in pursuit of Sheen’s character showcases the old Hollywood motto: If it ain’t broke, break it. Ratings baby!
“The Chase” is the first Adam Rifkin film I’ve seen, so by default it is the first film I’d seen featuring Miles. I used to watch it every week as a young pre-teen as it was one of the only VHS tapes my family owned. Having seen this film at least 100 times before their next films came out, I was hooked on Miles and Adam’s collaboration from the first frame. Fans may have come for Sheen, Kristy Swanson and Ray Wise, but many stayed for Dougal, Rollins and Mostel. The trio bring loads of funny to the high octane action.
In the interest of avoiding a warped version of “This Is Your Life,” we will skip to 2007. In doing so I’m risking fan outrage by not covering “Detroit Rock City,” and for that I apologize, but “Look” is perhaps Rifkin and Miles’ masterpiece. If you haven’t seen it yet, the film is nothing short of amazing. The perfect combination of comedy and drama, Rifkin questions what we do when we don’t think we’re being watched. The answer is humiliating yet honest. Miles and frequent collaborator Giuseppe Andrews (for more on that check out “Giuseppe Makes A Movie” asap!) play a couple of slackers in the film. While Giuseppe jockeys the register inside of a Shell station in the heart of downtown LA, Miles hangs and keeps his pal company on the late shift. The duo huffs whippets, cruises underage muff, and rocks out to Giuseppe’s original tunes. “Look” is a critical darling, and rightly so. Miles is one piece in this puzzle that makes this machine run to perfection.
Miles Currently resides in the LA area and I believe he is still coming down from the natural high all of us Cubs fans received last November after the final out of the World Series. To any fan of hilarious comedy mixed with earth shattering drama, I urge you to check out the titles listed in this piece as well as “A Night At The Golden Eagle,” “Something About Sex” aka “Denial,” “Look: The Series” (cough-cough the first project I ever worked on! cough-cough), “Garbanzo Gas” and “Period Piece.” If you’re looking for laughs, “Homo Erectus” aka “National Lampoon’s Stoned Age” and “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” will do the trick. Most recently, you’ll catch Miles in Rifkin’s new film “Dog Years” starring Burt Reynolds, Ariel Winter, Chevy Chase and Clark Duke. And to any filmmakers reading this … cast Miles In everything you make. Seriously, he’s fucking hilarious.
Jeremy Morrison – Staff Writer
Co-creator/host of the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, film reviewer, screenwriter, Jeremy has more than eight years experience in television and film production. His childhood fascination with the naked breasts featured in the “Friday the 13th” franchise prepared him for absolutely nothing in life. J-Mo lives by one motto: #wecantallbezacksnyder