FILMS and TV… Engaging Roles from Enigmatic Ed Harris

#1980s #1990s #2010s


Ed Harris, Not just that Man in Black…


But an actor who emerged from the background proving his acting gift.



Westworld (1973). One of the best sci-fi horror movies of the 1970s. With James Brolin and Richard Benjamin as two men holidaying in that resort from hell. And Yul Brynner as that rogue, cowboy robot intent on killing them. This a classic film that you would hope would be one to avoid the current TV series and film-spin-off/ remake / reboot craze.

But it inevitably happened with Anthony Hopkins – doing his best Richard Attenborough in the original Jurassic Park trilogy turn – Thandie Newton, Tessa Thompson, Rachel Evan Wood and James Marsden in a great acting ensemble. And this cast also including one – much Oscar-nominated yet never won – Ed Harris.

As a teen, Ed Harris is an actor I remember first from the biographical book tie in to the film Sweet Dreams. Then inevitably the biopic movie of this book. Where he wonderfully supported my favourite actress in her Oscar-nominated Best Actress role as Patsy Cline. Since then I’ve spotted Ed Harris in many a movie as right-hand man to some great leading stars.  These usually having second billing, but always a first-rate performance. Here are just some of those supporting roles…


Sweet Dreams (1985)

Sweet Dreams Trailer 1985, Video Detective

In this Patsy Cline film biopic, Harris appears as Charlie Dick, and the love of her life until Cline’s untimely death in a plane crash. This despite the fact that Charlie was apparently physically abusing her. Here Harris supported co-star Jessica Lange and was believable as the romantic who swept her off her feet and in turn hurt her both emotionally and physically in their tempestuous marriage.

But despite the latter traits showing Harris’  character in a bad light, Harris still shows the depth of the love Charlie felt for his then-wife and his role’s humanity. And if Harris’ sad final scene with his character dancing alone to her music after her death, doesn’t move you then your heart is made of rock. Bringing me to another Harris performance.


The Rock (1996)

The Rock – Official® Trailer [HD], TrailersPlaygroundHD

This turn as a bad guy – and this typically the type of role that Harris often gets cast in – as General Francis X. Hummel, Starring alongside Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery, it’s one to check out. This despite the fact Connery sports a dodgy haircut (twice) and Cage is at his hammiest. The film basically a hokum Michael Bay directed plot. It’s kind of a mismatched buddy film with the good guys, Connery and Cage vs bad dude, Harris and his cronies.

Harris shows he’s dream casting with him as the leader of a group of rogue U.S. Force Recon Marines. And him seizing the control of the island of Alcatraz, where in the infamous prison my favourite Scottish actor is currently residing in this Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais role.

The rest of the script is apparently Quentin Tarantino and Cage inspired. Needless to say, its all harmless fun, unless you watch it with the kids. As there’s a Cage simulating love-making which should have been left on the cutting room floor (for more than one reason).  And this one on the Guilty Pleasures review pile. And – you have been warned – an unwritten sequel.


Stepmom (1998)

Stepmom – Trailer, YouTube Movies

Harris supporting two of the then most bankable actresses of the time. Harris appears in this chick-flick as the husband.  Then (off-screen) to Susan Sarandon’s Jackie and now (on-screen) fiance to a younger woman, Julia Roberts’ Isabel. With scenes showing Isabel childless with troublesome stepkids and Jackie a resentful ex-wife. Jackie inevitably warms to her just in time for that Hollywood happy ending. And this slightly hinted at in the film poster.

Basically both stepmum and mum get on much better after terminal illness threatens the life of the former Mrs Luke Harrison (Sarandon). This film has the “heartwarming” / nauseating scripted trailer, little for Harris to do but shuffle his feet and with two endearing child actors. But despite all the clichés and tropes, I cried like a baby when I first saw this.


Geostorm (2017)

Geostorm Trailer, AMC THEATRES

Geostorm is one of those movies you waited to watch on that streaming channel (if you missed seeing it on the big screen). But wished you hadn’t seen it at all. Despite the rather cool inviting film poster. It was for the most part (which is what I saw of it) in a word awful and a waste of all the talents involved. Despite the casting of Gerard Butler, Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturges and a WTF appearance of Ed Harris.

Harris appears (far too) late (on) in the movie and sadly couldn’t save this as an evil Secretary of State. And Andy Garcia as the President who appeared like he did in Passengers (2016) and that Mamma Mia (2018) sequel, before sleepwalking off with a cheque after his appearance.

This film with the most contrived disaster plot since 2012 (2009) but shed loads less fun was one we switched off.  The by the number plot could have been written by a group of 10-year-old boys with a tick box of tropes to mark off as they happen. So if you must watch it do.

Unbelievably this film was originally in both the 3D and IMAX formats despite its made for TV appearance. So do as they advised you in Why Don’t You (1973-95) “do something more important instead”. Like, invest this running time of 1 hour and 49 minutes of Shite (with a capital S) into the below TV Series.


Westworld (2016-18)

WESTWORLD Season 1 TRAILER (2016) New HBO Series, Series Trailer MP

Loved his sudden, shocking appearance here, with no spoilers. Harris is worth the wait to go “ooh it’s Ed Harris”. This is more or less what I said to Darlin Husband when seeing Harris here as… Do payout for the cost of this DVD if you don’t have access to this series as like Dynasty (2017), it’s one of those rare reboots which you’ll feel add to rather than detract from the original.

And finally revisiting the Ed Harris IMDb page it appears he’s supporting yet another great Tom Cruise. This is the second (noooooooooo!) of the Top Gun movies. The film entitled Top Gun: Maverick. With this title, maverick kinda also summing up Ed Harris as this unsung hero, with those piercing blue eyes really should get more roles as Top Gun.


What A Character Blogathon 2018, No 62

This post was added to Once Upon A Screen, Paula’s Cinema Club and Outspoken & Freckled‘s What a Character Blogathon 2018. Other reviews with these casts include Jessica Lange in All that Jazz, Tootsie and The Postman Always Rings Twice.  Nicolas Cage stars in my post on Moonstruck and in another wee post on the film HERE. Sean Connery in his tribute, The Russia House and Outland,  Julia Roberts stars in Steel Magnolias, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Closer and Mother’s Day. Susan Sarandon in The Witches of Eastwick.




15 thoughts on “FILMS and TV… Engaging Roles from Enigmatic Ed Harris

  1. I do love me some Ed Harris. Brilliant actor who is always convincing. I really love him in a very underrated and little known film called Jacknife. He is so moving in that as a traumatised Vietnam veteran.

    Glad to see some more love for Sweet Dreams and Stepmom. He is awesome in Pollock, The Rock, The Abyss, WestWorld, China Moon and Apollo 13.

  2. Gee, I love this actor. He first caught my attention as Goldie Hawn’s husband in “Swing Shift.” Okay, he was pretty cute in his Navy whites, but I was more taken by the star quality. As soon as you see his name in the cast, you know the film/TV show will be better for it. He sure is nasty in “West World,” but I can’t wait for him to keep coming back (and coming back, and coming back). Great post and tribute to a great talent.

  3. I enjoyed this post, as it added to my list of films to see! Ed Harris is great. Would you believe I confuse ‘West World’ with ‘West Wing’? 😂 Not the same thing at all!

  4. I love Ed Harris. I think my two favourite Ed Harris roles are John Glenn in The Right Stuff and Dave Moss in Glengary Glen Ross. That the two characters are pretty much opposites shows just how talented Mr. Harris is!

  5. Nice spotlight on one of my favorite actors! Harris is consistently great, no matter how big or small the role is. He’s also terrific in The Right Stuff and The Abyss.

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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