Each month I’m going to take a look at an actor, actress, or filmmaker that I grew up loving and has informed my own career (if calling what I do in the industry qualifies as such) in writing or performing. Films are supposed to be fun, entertaining ventures that allow an escape from the day-to-day happenings of our lives. Why not celebrate the uncelebrated, folks. Join me on my quest as I gush over those who have inspired me to put words on a website that will ultimately never equate what it means to be honored by their peers at an official award show or film festival.
“Wherever the red dot goes…ya bang!” This classic line has stayed with me since my very first viewing of “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th part VI” back in the early 90s. The first “Friday the 13th” I recall renting on my own, it quickly became my favorite in the series (though that is ever changing) as I was a big scaredy cat in my youth and this installment hit all the right comedic beats, and gothic horror nods, to keep me entertained between the scares. The line itself was first uttered by Vincent Guastaferro‘s Deputy Rick. Deputy Rick remains one of the better secondary characters in the “Friday the 13th” franchise (Ted and those other lucky counselors are still looking for those after hours bars). Rick finds himself a rare survivor of the masked madman as a result of some Jarvis trickery that ends with him locked securely in a jail cell while everyone else on the force is disposed of at Lake Forest Green. Looks like someone lucked into a job promotion.
Vincent Guastaferro would go on to become one of the first character actors that I would notice popping up in films and television shows over then next few years. I became more aware of the actors supporting the “stars” and how important a role they actually play in filmmaking. A career that has spanned over 37 years now, Vincent Guastaferro would go on to play macho cops, corrupt District Attorneys, friendly salesmen, and even an eccentric cinematographer. For that, I don’t know I’ll ever have the opportunity to thank Mr. Guastaferro, but this installment of Unsung Heroes is hopefully a proper start.
My second encounter with the brilliance of Vincent Guastaferro was in Wes Craven’s “Shocker” as Pastori. Lt. Parker’s righthand man, I always felt Pastori looked up to his boss with an eagerness to impress. I assume Pastori is a beat cop in Shocker, but maybe he has made his way up to Sergeant. Not sure. But I do know that after finding his way to Jonathan Parker’s front door, having falling subject to Horace Pinker’s possession, he’ll be in for one helluva demotion after the dust settles. What I enjoy about Guastaferro’s turn in Shocker is the amount of range he is able to present the audience with as an experienced character actor. Guastaferro is able to go from concerned officer to deranged slasher, and Guastaferro gives it his all. Craven had a way of letting his characters breathe in his films, and “Shocker” is no different. No actor ever gets left behind in Craven’s films and I’m sure that is why every actor (with the exception of one I can think of off the top of my head) in Hollywood always lept at the chance to work with the horror maestro. Guastaferro reaches that fine border in his performance, where one step and he could be considered a ham, b-list over-actor, but his experience in the craft, and under Craven’s direction, is pitch-perfect and makes the film that much more enjoyable.
The early 90s proved fruitful for Vincent and it all started with a one-off episode on “The Flash.” With the productions hands tied due to budget, the Flash’s rogues gallery of villains were few and far between early on in production and in turn we witnessed the Scarlet Speedster taking on the seedy underbelly of crime. Enter Guastaferro as a corrupt district attorney hellbent on finding out Flash’s true identity. Guastaferro would continue his trek between silver and small screen his entire career proving his ability to captivate an audience in roles both big and small in both formats. In 91, Guastaferro would team with David Mamet, Joe Mantegna and William H. Macy in “Homicide”, a gritty tale of a rogue Jewish cop (Mantegna) that finds himself starring down a group of Zionists. Guastaferro brilliantly portrays Lt. Senna in the film.
It should be noted that when Guastaferro first arrived in L.A., he found himself cast along side Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz in a production of “Bleacher Bums”, the story of a group of Cubbie hopefuls that gather at Wrigley Field to watch a game. I reckon I bring this up because Guastaferro would find himself reunited with Franz on the first four seasons on “N.Y.P.D. Blue” as Sgt. Agostini. Years later he would find himself landing in an episode of “Criminal Minds” reunited once more with Joe Mantegna. In 2000, Guastaferro would join up with David Mamet in State and Main, which starred William H. Macy, of course. The two have shared the screen many times now. My point? If you’re a badass actor, and are friends with other badass actors, do your job, show up and deliver, you’re gonna work steady in Hollywood.
Vincent Guastaferro may not be a name you remember at the drop of the hat, I don’t see why as it flows off the tongue, but he’s proven time and time again that no matter the size of the part, whether it is a b-movie slasher, a one-off episode on a television series, a series regular, or a supporting member of a giant a-list production, you bring your A game. If you’re at the plate, why the fuck not swing for the fences. One day a wannabe filmmaker might write a small exposè about what your career has meant to him. And Mr. Guastaferro, next time you’re in Chicago, allow me to gush over your career over dinner (Villa Nova Pizzeria in Stickney, IL, a small village south of Berwyn, has a helluva pie!!). All I ask in return are stories from your stellar career. Off the record, of course.
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