There are certain actors who have just the right kind of manic energy, and because I am basic sometimes, I usually end up crushing on them — people who are compelling, intense, and charismatic as hell, thrillingly walking that line between super-calculated and maniacally unhinged. I’m talking Skeet Ulrich during his ’90s heyday …
… and his costar in The Craft, Fairuza Balk …
… and Walton Goggins in literally everything …
… and OF COURSE Cillian Murphy, of the magnificent cheekbones …
… and sometimes even Dustin’s favorite, Denzel!
And to this heralded group I suggestion the addition of Jonathan Tucker. Do y’all know Jonathan Tucker? Let’s talk about Jonathan Tucker.
Once upon a time, he was this fresh-faced young thing in Sofia Coppola’s debut film The Virgin Suicides, adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’s same-named novel. Tucker played Tim, one of the group of boys who watch the Lisbon sisters and whose fascination with the girls is voiced by Giovanni Ribisi’s narrator:
In the end we had pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained. Oddly shaped emptiness mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn’t name. What lingered after them was not life, but the most trivial list of mundane facts. A clock ticking on the wall, a room dim at noon, the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself.
Tucker was there when the boys drove the girls around and took them to the disastrous dance that ended in Kirsten Dunst/Lux’s house arrest after her tryst with Josh Hartnett/Trip in the football field. Look at how fresh-faced!
Tucker bounced around after that 1999 film: the teen comedy 100 Girls, with Katherine Heigl, Jaime Pressly, and Amber Tamblyn (was 2000 a good year for anyone?); The Deep End with Tilda Swinton; and the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake with Jessica Biel. There were a few one-off episodes of Law and Order (both Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent!) and USA series like White Collar and Royal Pains, and then a season-long gig on NBC’s The Black Donnellys, about an Irish crime family, alongside best Olivia contender and Drake “Nice for What” cameo Olivia Wilde!
So brooding! And look, maybe it was the NBC connection that helped Tucker land a role on Hannibal, the show which I have tried numerous times to watch but every time it freaks me out and I still haven’t gotten through it because NIGHTMARES. But can we agree that Tucker got real good-looking for his two Hannibal appearances? Like, fundamentally, I think I’m supposed to be scared of this dude. But instead, I am drowning of thirst!
Aside: Michael Pitt was also on Hannibal, right? I should have listed him in the crazy-eyes actor list above. My bad. Here you go:
But back to the matter at hand! I think Hannibal was the beginning of a tidal shift — from that point on, Tucker is going to be jacked, and he’s going to be reckless, and I’m going to be into it. Observe!
He starts out fairly straitlaced as politician Bob Little, who has a fling with Mae Whitman’s Amber Holt on Parenthood:
And then gets grittier while trying, and failing, to outdraw Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens as Boon on Justified:
Then he shows up on Bryan Fuller’s post-Hannibal project American Gods:
And appears all too briefly in the underrated thriller Sweet Virginia alongside Jon Bernthal and Christopher Abbott:
And finally, he fully jettisons into “excellent sleezeball” status while playing an obnoxious and hair-trigger-tempered MMA fighter, Jay Kulina, over three seasons of the series Kingdom; that gig led him to be spotted courtside at various UFC events over the past few years. On Kingdom, he played the son of Frank Grillo and had a mini Parenthood reunion with Matt Lauria, who is also in the cast:
Kind of gross! Yet also attractive!
Which leads us all to Westworld. Tucker was announced as joining the cast this season, and made his appearance in Sunday’s episode “Reunion” as Major Craddock, a member of the Confederados, or the Army of New Virginia (hosts who were written as not giving up after the Civil War was lost for the South, who now work as mercenaries for the highest bidder). You see him at first as one of the faux human guests at the party Ben Barnes’s Logan attends 35 years ago, where he decides to invest Delos money in the Argos Initiative that will become Westworld.
Later on, his character’s path intersects with Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, who commands him and his men to follow her, slaughters them when they don’t comply, and then brings them back to life to convince them of her power. By the end of the episode, we see Craddock and his men accompany Dolores, Talulah Riley’s Angela (I JUST NOW REALIZED SHE IS ELON MUSK’S TWO-TIME EX-WIFE), and James Marsden’s Teddy as they continue moving toward the Valley Beyond that Dolores has now told Teddy is a weapon for their revolution. With all of Dolores’s talk of killing God and a potential showdown between her group and park employees, I’m sure all that gunpower will come into play sooner rather than later — and I’m assuming Tucker’s crazy eyes will be a constant presence for however many episodes of Westworld he’ll be on this season.
This has been your introduction to my fascination with Jonathan Tucker. (He’s married to a brown woman! I totally could have had a chance!) Excuse me while I start a rewatch of Justified.