According to the trailer for the documentary Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, the scene-stealing actor Stephen Tobolowsky, "has been in more movies than Tom Cruise," and, "is linked to more movie stars than Kevin Bacon." His name isn't all that familiar, but his face and voice are both distinctly recognizable. Not so much for being the lead singer in an early band featuring Stevie Ray Vaughn or for co-writing True Stories, but for his stand out appearances in a number of films, most of which he hardly features in more than one scene. Most people would probably place him first in Groundhog Dayor Single White Female, where he played the similar-sounding characters Ned Ryerson and Mitch Myerson, respectively. He also features prominently in Memento, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Thelma and Louise, and many other films.

His best part, though, has to be Dr. Werner Brandes in Sneakers. In the film, which stars heavyweights Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, Mary McDonnell and Ben Kingsley, his character is not only significant to the story, but the actor's voice is even more vital to the plot; in my opinion, it's one of the best purely vocal pieces of scene-stealing in the history of cinema. In an attempt to enter a high-security office, which requires voice-identification, Robert Redford's crew sends in McDonnell on a date with Tobolowsky, where she must get the man to say the following words: "Hi, my name is Werner Brandes. My voice is my passport. Verify me." Only she has to get the words through casual conversation, so he doesn't catch on to her reason for needing them -- Redford's crew can stitch the out-of-order individual words into the pass-phrase; the way McConnell gets Toblowsky to say "passport" is the best part. Later, when the edited recording of these words are played to gain entry into an office, Tobolowsky's voice is immortalized forever. More than any other scene in the film -- and there are some great ones in there -- I always remember Tobolowsky's and McConnell's scene together the best.
categories Cinematical