HBO's Big Love consistently reminds me of how great Harry Dean Staton is at playing despicable people.
In Big Love he plays the worst kind of villian. He is a church leader, but you can almost smell the reek of hipocrisy as he sings the Carter Family's "Wildwood Church." He is a mafia-esque extortionist. His greed makes him the worst kind of materialist. Jesus would have overturned his table for sure. He's also a pedophile with a fifteen-year-old wife and a crush on his thirty-something daughter.
Lankily pacing around the screen in a western suit and cowboy hat, he looks the very face of a man at ease with himself. He is calm and confident. He looks like one might expect Bob Dylan too after a particularly great show. However, behind all that, something ugly lurks, making him seem like a voracious wolf just ready to pounce.
Part of me thinks that Roman Grant (what a name!) is the character Harry Dean Stanton was born to play, and he handles the role perfectly. Another part of me longs to see him in the role of Asa Hawks, the (psuedo-)blind street preacher in Flannery O'Connors Wise Blood. Stanton has played that role, but unfortunately the movie is near impossible to find.
Asa Hawks is as hypocritical as Roman Grant. Hawks claims to have blinded himself to show his faith; however, in truth, his eyes are unharmed. Hawks young daughter, who has a knowing crush on the spiritually seeking Hazel Motes, seems a little too sexually knowledgable for her age. Perhaps this is due to Hawks having abused her, though there is no direct evidence of this in the novel.
The paralells between Roman Grant and Asa Hawks are obvious, and Hawks seems as good a role for Stanton as any. If only I can track down Wise Blood, then I will be able to find out for sure.