Published at: Aug. 15, 2006, 10:40 p.m. CST by staff
Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Wow. This one shocked me when Mark Ebner of Hollywood Interrupted e-mailed us a little while ago to say that the death of Bruno Kirby from leukemia-related complications had been confirmed. Kirby’s first great role was as Young Clemenza in THE GODFATHER PART 2, but he’s had several stand-out moments over the course of his career. I adore his work in MODERN ROMANCE, the classic Albert Brooks comedy, and he made a strong impression in THIS IS SPINAL TAP. If anyone really “got” Kirby, though, it was Barry Levinson. In 1987, Levinson put him in two films. TIN MEN was an underrated film about aluminum siding salesmen, a low-key charmer that still holds up. The bigger role was as 2nd Lt. Steven Hawk in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, where he played the main comic foil to Robin Williams, and Kirby absolutely destroyed in the role. When Adrian Cronauer is forced off the air and Sgt. Hawk takes over, the show that Kirby does is one of the most horrifying displays I can imagine, deadly unfunny and brilliant because of it.
Directors seemed to like using Kirby repeatedly. Rob Reiner gave him a huge role in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, and Reiner’s Castle Rock hired him again for CITY SLICKERS, which was probably Kirby’s biggest hit. Personally, I love the way he sort of poked fun at his own breakthrough work in THE GODFATHER PART 2 with his role in Andrew Bergman’s hilarious THE FRESHMAN. Levinson employed him again in SLEEPERS, and then a year later, he had one of his last big roles in the film DONNIE BRASCO. In 2004, when they remade HELTER SKELTER as a TV miniseries, Kirby played the pivotal role of Vincent Bugliosi. It was an odd bit of miscasting and a less-than-inspired version of the story, and it seems strange to me how underutilized he was in the last decade or so. He leaves behind some really wonderful work, though, and his last film appearance anywhere seems to have been his work on one of the first few episodes of ENTOURAGE this year, where he played the producer whose Shreck statue was stolen by Dom, Vincent’s old friend. It was a pleasure to see him show up on the show, just as it was in any other film, and it still doesn’t seem possible to me that we’ve seen the last of his work.
Our condolences go out his friends and family, and I’ll be finding one or more of his performances to put on while I work tonight to remind myself of just how good he could be.