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A Forgotten 80's Movie Star Directed the Two Best TV Episodes of the Week

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity Facts | July 13, 2014 |


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A few weeks ago, in writing up the American adaptation of the amazing French zombie series, The Returned, I vaguely recalled that a guy named Keith Gordon would be co-running the show with Carlton Cuse. I didn’t think much of it because at the time, the only thing that stuck out on his CV were as the director of 10 episodes of Dexter, and because I was too preoccupied with my own outrage at the notion that someone was remaking The Returned (*shakes fist at sky*).

Anyway, I noticed his name again a couple of days ago when I looked up directors on The Strain and saw that Gordon would be directing the fourth episode. That makes sense, actually, since Carlton Cuse is the the showrunner on The Strain as well.

But then, while watching the screener for tonight’s episode of The Leftovers, I saw his name again! And this is not just any episode of The Leftovers, either. If the first two episodes (which basically amounted to a two-hour pilot directed by Peter Berg) didn’t hook you, tonight’s episode will. It’s flat-out f**king phenomenal, and a total mindfuck. I think this is the episode that transforms The Leftovers into the next must-see drama. For fans of Christopher Eccleston, it’s entirely his episode, and you will notice a few smirks that recall his time on Doctor Who. I don’t want to say anything else about it, but if you were thinking about bailing after the second episode, DON’T!

So, noticing his name in three different contexts, I finally looked up Keith Gordon only to discover that he also directed the second season premiere of The Bridge, earlier this week. That episode was as good or almost as good as tonight’s The Leftovers, and did a lot to help The Bridge transition away from a serial killer procedural and into more of a character study, and a great one at that. Makes sense he’d do it, too, because he also directed the first season finale of The Bridge, which is where that transition really began to take place.

Wow, I thought: This guy directed the two best episodes of TV this week, and he’s directing an episode of The Strain in a few weeks. I wonder if he also directed this week’s third best episode of television, Rectify?

No. But he did direct the pilot episode of Rectify.

I officially love Keith Gordon.

Who the hell is this guy? What else has he done? Oh, he directed The Singing Detective with Robert Downey, Jr., which was instrumental in RDJ’s comeback. That turns out to be even more amusing when you consider that Robert Downey, Jr. played the best friend of Keith Gordon’s lead character, Jason Mellon, in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School.

Keith Gordon is the sullen one. RDJ is the drunk one yelling “Do me!”

Turns out, for about three years in the 80s, Keith Gordon was a big deal, as the lead in John Carpenter’s Christine, second billed (ahead of Christian Slater) in The Legend of Billie Jean and as the lead in Mark Romanek’s debut feature The Static in 1985 (Romanek would not direct another feature until 2002’s One Hour Photo).

Keith Gordon would appear in 1986’s TV movie, Combat High with George Clooney, too, and from there on out, Gordon’s acting career was pretty much the inverse of Clooney’s. In fact, by the time that George Clooney had started on E.R., Keith Gordon had retired from acting and turned to directing, which has clearly been better to him than his hairline since 1987.

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