Roy Scheider'Actors We Miss' is a weekly series that pauses to remember and celebrate the career of a great talent who's passed away, highlighting what made him or her unique, and why their absence is so keenly felt. Look for it every Friday.

The high-pressure world of a ballet dancer on the verge of stardom -- and possibly a nervous breakdown -- is examined in harrowing and dazzling fashion by director Darren Aronofsky in 'Black Swan,' which opens in limited release today. Natalie Portman plays the dancer, a high-strung perfectionist with tremendous technical talent who is driven to new highs (and lows) by the ballet company's artistic director, portrayed by Vincent Cassel at his sinister and charming best. The movie, and Portman's performance, are so good that they leave one reeling to recall equivalent films and lead roles. And that takes us back to the great Roy Scheider in Bob Fosse's 'All That Jazz,' a potent mixture of fantasy, reality and nightmare centering around a driven perfectionist pushing too hard.

Scheider's appearance in that film was somewhat of a shocker. Throughout the 1970s, he'd established himself as an extremely capable and/or sympathetic authority figure. Even when he stepped outside of the law to play disreputable characters, like Jane Fonda's pimp ('Klute') or an assassin targeting another hit man ('The Outside Man') or a criminal hiding out from the Mob in Latin America ('Sorcerer'), a measure of honor and self-respect poured out from his veins.
categories Features, Cinematical