Tim Curry is awesome. This is a fact that nerds do not dispute. Whether it’s his film career, his many TV appearances, or even his sizable body of voice acting work, the English actor gives every role his all, which is incredibly impressive when you realize the man had seven different roles in the TV series Dinosaurs. In fact, Curry — whether intentionally or unintentionally — has managed to snag some of the craziest damn roles that Hollywood had to offer, and he played them as weird as MPAA and FCC would allow. In fact, he was originally cast as the voice of the Joker in Batman: TAS, but had to be replaced by Mark Hamill because his performance was too crazy. We solute Mr. Curry work with a look at his 10 finest — and most bizarre — roles.
10) Long John Silver, Muppet Treasure Island
Many people have been pirates, and some have been singing pirates. But a pirate who sings to Muppets? Curry probably raced to put on the pirate clothes and make-up. He couldn’t wait to stalk around and communicate with puppets. Why? Because in Tim Curry’s mind, that’s “acting.” Sure, John Cleese, Steve Martin, Charles Grodin, and Richar Pryor all worked with the Muppets, but they didn’t dress as pirates with goofy accents.
9) Mr. Jigsaw, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1
To be fair, 1993’s Loaded Weapon 1 was not one of the best films to dangle the name “National Lampoon” in front of it, but in the sea of celeb cameos, Curry got the weird end of the stick. Henchman to an evil William Shatner? We’ll buy that. German-accented henchman who will dress up as a Girl Scout (with beard intact) and then gleefully murder Whoopie Goldberg because she knows the secret of cocaine cookies? We’re not so sure.
8) MAL, Captain Planet
When you’re searching for voice actors to play your evil pollution computer, why not go with the best? A green head on a screen, a big load of green in the bank, who would say no to that? Plus you get to speak very highly about killing the planet and poisoning kids, and your boss is that sexy evil chick with the wicked hair. The downside? Your action figure. Really, it looks like someone painted a graffiti face on an overhead projector.
7) Gomez Addams, Addams Family Reunion
When no one wanted to show up for the third Addams Family movie, Curry who played massive butler Lurch in the first two installments solemnly raised his hand and said, “I shall be the one who plays Gomez Addams.” Playing a character from a Chas Addams cartoon was weird for Raul Julia, but trying to follow the late original Gomez Addams? Insanity. The straight-to-video threequel was a predictable bomb, but hey, at least it was usually on the shelf at Blockbuster when you were stoned.
6) Hexxus, FernGully
Tim must have sent a note to his agent saying, “If there’s any part that involves me being a non-human that wants nothing more than to pollute the Earth, GET ME THAT ROLE.” Hexxus is a lot like MAL in that he really hates the ecosystem and is also composed out of non-organic matter. He’s a big smokey thing that lives in a tree. He fights fairies in a rainforest and a bat with wires in his damn head. Let’s not talk any more about this ass-awful movie, shall we?
5) Darkness, Legend
The same year that the delightful Clue came out, Curry stripped to the waist and put on gobs of latex and a horned headdress to play the villain in Ridley Scott’s slow-moving fantasy epic Legend. Sure, other actors have played the devil, but only Curry did it in a movie with unicorns and Tom Cruise prancing about. More insanely, only Curry spent 14 hours a day in the make-up chair for the role, and had to walk through doors sideways because of his massive horns. The only things that weren’t prosthetics were his eyelids. The headdress alone weighed 20 lbs!
4) Taurus Bulba, Darkwing Duck
So who hasn’t done the voice for an animated purple ox who walks around planning heists? Put your hand down, Tim. For the big star power that the Darkwing Duck pilot needed, producers brought Tim in to voice the big enemy. Animated bulls are one thing, sure, but to heighten even more when Taurus came back in a later episode he was half robot. A half robot, half purple bull who still wore suits and wanted to steal shit. It’s tempting to imagine Tim floating in his marble swimming pool, thinking, “That purple bull bought all this. I am a lucky actor.”
3) Dr. Frank-N-Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It’s his earliest bizarre role and one that’s he’s still best known for: a transvestite alien from the planet Transsexual who’s prone to massive group dance numbers, orgies, and small bit of cannibalism. Who knew that casting directors would look at Rocky Horror and say, “Yes, him. He’s the one I want. No, not that transvestite, the other one. Yes. The one prancing about. That one. Let’s hire him for some other roles.”
2) Pennywise the Clown, It
Normal is a loving father figure, or a part of a secret government ops team, or a clever scientist. Normal is not an alien clown with needle-sharp teeth who lives in a sewer and lures children to their doom with balloons. Do you see a child-snatching alien clown on Ian McKellan’s resume? How about Russel Crowe’s? In any case, they all float down here. And when you’re down here, you’ll float too.
1) The Grand Wizard, The Worst Witch
If you thought Pennywise or Darkness was Curry’s weirdest role, you haven’t seen Worst Witch. It’s a completely moronic story of a school for witches, pre-Hogwarts, and stars Fairuza Balk, Charlotte Rae, and Diana Rigg. Curry plays the best wizard in the wizarding world (the “Grand” Wizard, in a completely non-KKK sense), who comes onto the scene in one of the most out-of-fucking-control dance sequences ever put onto film. Not one ’80s video effect was spared, as Tim twirls around over green-screened cats, bats, fireworks, whales (?), and a toad morphing into a bass guitar to a tune that sounds like bad Bowie cover. It’s absolutely amazingly awful, and of course only could be played by one man.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.