FILMS… A Tribute to a Big Supporting Star, John Heard

#1980s #1990s


Reawakening to 5 John Heard Movies…


John Heard recently had a part in Sharknado but was remembered in so many more.



Another star’s passing meant more movie memories were recalled. This time it was a great character actor, John Heard who supported so many big names beautifully. Be it Robert De Niro in Awakenings or Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in Beaches. Or even with a very wee Macaulay Culkin in two of the Home Alone films.

Like two others who passed away recently, Bill Paxton and Martin Landau, Heard also starred with a Brat Pack regular. Landau had starred with Molly Ringwald in Fatal Love (1992) and of course, Paxton shone in the John Hughes classic Weird Science (1985). Heard starred with Andrew McCarthy in Catholic Boys / Heaven Help Us (1985).

However, I was surprised to learn of Heard’s TV roles in Miami Vice (1986) and The Equalizer (1987), both firm favourites of my dad’s in the Eighties. But it is back to the end of this decade and the start of the Nineties, in this wee tribute to his film work.


Beaches (1988)

BEACHES (1988) – Official Trailer, xirstom1

This film is about two best friends, from wildly different backgrounds who are pals for 30 years. CC (Bette Midler) and Hillary (Barbara Hershey) are friends through thick and thin and fall out only a couple of times. Heard played John Pierce, the man who both the leading ladies characters fall for, fought over and fell out over.

He sleeps with Hillary, with C.C. getting wildly jealous, as C.C. fancied him at the start. John ends up happily – then unhappily – married to C.C after the pair start dating. This is after Hillary has moved away to care for her sick father. Later the friends become pals again and are reunited after both divorce, Hillary then becomes a single mother.

Heard’s John returns to the movie later on in this story in a wee twist of fate, and he was kind of a sweet, likeable and honest character in this movie. Heard’s portrayal made him a lovely character throughout, and it was easy to see why both women found him attractive.

His character was also unaware of these ladies’ feelings about him, till the less vulnerable C.C became more open with him, as he fell in love with her. And if you want to know more, about this complicated love triangle and friendship story, CLICK HERE for more on Heard’s part in this tale.


Home Alone (1990)

Home Alone Trailer, John Erler

Here Heard played Peter McCallister, the father who left his son, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) – aged 8 – Home Alone one Christmas, as the family left on holiday. Other actors considered for Heard’s patriarch role included Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Martin Sheen, James Belushi, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more.

When you hear of his competition, Heard is the most plausible of the list and more believable in this role as a father rather than one of the action men listed. But Christopher Lloyd and Jack Nicholson really? Noone but heard could play this character as well, with Heard having the right father like persona for the role. Heard had reservations about the movie when making it thinking it would flop, and apologised for this later when the sequel was filmed.

Meanwhile back to the plot, where home alone Kevin uses his cunning and ingenuity to foil the burgling activities of two well-known thieves. Almost like as Darlin’ Husband suggests a prequel to Die Hard (1988), but a film for kids. 

Heard was perfectly cast with 80s screen wife, Catherine O’Hara as Kate – both starred in After Hours (1985) together – as the harassed parents who try to get home to their wee one. Heard returned for the first of the sequels (with President Trump making an appearance). But surely Kevin’s family should have done a wee headcount before leaving this boy Home Alone 3 times…


Big (1988)

Big (3/5) Movie CLIP – Josh Doesn’t Get It (1988) HD, Movieclips
A wee boy, Josh wishes to be a grown-up, and his wish comes true. After Josh becomes big –  ie a grown-up and gets a job in a toy store – he is then played by Tom Hanks – who dates Susan. Heard plays Paul Davenport, both Josh’s rival at work and Susan’s ex-boyfriend. I did feel sorry for him in this clip, where Davenports’ idea is crushed by Josh’s childlike view on it.
This is a bit ironic with a certain brand of that building block franchises now (which sadly doesn’t turn into a robot). He gets more irritated and frustrated with him, as he fights to get attention both in and out of the workplace. Elizabeth Perkins plays Susan who unbeknownst to her was dating a substantially younger man. Heard wasn’t the 80s douchebag type in a James Spader kinda way.


Heaven Help Us / Catholic Boys (1985)

A TV Spot For “Heaven Help Us”, retrorocker

This was possibly the first – or second – movie I watched with John Heard in the eighties (or early nineties). Of course, it’s a 1980s Brat Pack movie with my then biggest crush, Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy, of course, is the star of Pretty in Pink (1986) and St Elmo’s Fire (1985).

The film was called Catholic Boys back in the UK, with Heaven Help Us as its alternative title. McCarthy as orphaned Michael Dunn joins a new Catholic school, with his grandparents’ hope that he will become a priest on leaving school. Michael falls in love with Mary Stuart Masterson’s Danni, as the boys discover girls with the boys being lectured on the meaning of lust.

The cast is fantastic with Matt Dillon’s kid brother, Kevin and Kiefer’s dad Donald Sutherland in it. And there is a young Patrick Dempsey too. Here Heard played one of the kinder of the teachers, a novice friar named Brother Timothy. It appears that Heard was a similar man on set with Andrew McCarthy recently told us on social media that he learnt a lot from Heard while making this movie.


Awakenings (1990)

Awakenings (1990) – You Woke A Person Scene (6/10) | Movieclips, Movieclips

A more dramatic role in one of my favourite movies, Awakenings. Heard plays Dr Kaufman in a real-life story based on Oliver Sacks’ book of the same name. Dr Malcolm Sayer (Sacks) – Robin Williams with a beard – fights to get the L-Dopa drug. This drug helps catatonic patients become more animated and in touch with real life.

Robert De Niro plays one of his patients, Leonard, in his most sensitive and touchingly played roles. Leonard has a nice wee sweet romantic feelings for another patient’s daughter, played by Penelope Ann Miller. Heard seemed one of the more likeable of the doctors. Heard and De Niro were a joy, and Williams less irritating than usual but Julie Kavner’s voice irked me.

I kept thinking of her as the voice of Marge Simpson. If I’d only seen her in Surrender (1987) as Sally Field’s best friend, I’d have been fine, but the Simpson’s mother kept appearing in my head… so if you ignore her and Williams and see it more as a when De Niro met Heard it’s just perfect.

And for those of you who haven’t heard of Heard, in his pre-Sharknado days, fish out these movies now… and I’m off to catch his big fish turn in Awakenings before it gets lost in a sea of minnows in that certain streaming channel…




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