B: Bob Peck (1945 – 1999)

Most likely a rather unknown actor to the general public until you bring up his performance as Safari expert/hunter Robert Muldoon in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park”; Bob Peck became a favorite actor of mine during my tenure at college studying film for several reasons. The sheer intensity that he exuded onto the screen was displayed wonderfully in the mega-hit of ’93, but Peck’s career expands much further than his doomed supporting character. Sadly however that career was before Park, most likely being the sole reason for his small level of what should have been gargantuan fame in the UK and internationally.

For me, I was only familiar with Peck from “Jurassic Park” and a small role at the end of the Harry Hook remake of “Lord of the Flies“, released three years earlier in 1990. These two tid-bit characters, with Spielberg’s obviously being the more developed, was all I had to go on when I purchased a DVD of the hit mini-series ‘Edge of Darkness“, which featured a grim photograph of Peck holding a gun in one hand and a teddy bear in the other on its cover. Without trying to sell more copies of the show, “Edge of Darkness” blew me away right from the very start, from the character shattering events of the pilot to the slightly science-fiction/religious metaphorical ending in the final episode, I found the entire mini-series to be a pinnacle example of great British television.

And I’m not alone in that belief either, as Darkness went on to win six out of eleven nominated awards at the BAFTA’s for that year and garnered widespread acclaim from professional critics as well as the general public. Peck however did not suddenly become the new traditionalist British actor of the year; he did not turn into an icon of his acting generation, nor did he pursue a more star studded career outside of the UK.

Bob Peck in “Edge of Darkness” (1985)

Peck instead stuck to his roots in theater, going on to receive high praise in his Shakespearean ventures but also with the small supporting roles he had received due to the legacy of Darkness. Sadly however those roles were to be mostly forgotten by audiences. One notable performance from Peck was when he played the android Byron in the 1989 sci-fi/adventure flick “Slipstream” which also starred Bill Paxton and Mark Hamill. The sad truth of the matter is that Peck died too young, at the age of only 53 after a long battle with cancer. His intensity as a character actor has made his two most notable performances (Darkness and Jurassic Park) memorable to this day and hopefully for many years to come. What pains me to say however is that few seem to have pursued his other acting achievements before and after the television hit of 85, helping to make his career become even more faded as time passes by.

I guess the least I can do (along with his many other fans) is to try and keep his memory alive, not just in biography but in the enjoyment I get out of watching an extraordinary talent be unleashed on screen (insert violin strings here).

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