Rip Torn, as a friend of mine has pointed out repeatedly, is perhaps the only living man whose second name represents the direct consequence of performing the action indicated by his first name. [Email me if you can think of any others].
He is also, even by Hollywood standards, a grade-A nutter. His famed turn as the vicious wheelchair-bound dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan in, er, Dodgeball is, like a man seeking the doctor’s opinion after lowering himself too vigorously onto a lettuce, just the tip of the iceberg.
A fan of the sauce, Torn is a repeat offender, with multiple arrests for drink driving to his credit as well as a spectacular incident in 2010, in which he broke into a closed bank (in the alleged belief that it was his own house) brandishing a loaded firearm.
Lesser known to many, however, are the lengths to which Torn will take his method acting. In the following clip from Norman ‘The White Negro’ Mailer’s 1970 oddity Maidstone Torn, unhappy with Mailer’s direction, sets about his head with a hammer, prompting a gloriously bloody, homoerotic writhe in the grass, replete with proto-Tyson ear-munching and accidental boom mike infringement. Amazingly, the improvised altercation actually made it into the final cut. It is a genuine “is this really happening?” moment. Enjoy:
My thanks go out to Cal King for pointing out that this all actually happened.