For those who are not conversant with the subgenre of 1960’s motorcycle exploitation films, Bruce Dern is the greatest exponent of his kind: the violent, unpredictable madman, the total loose cannon who cannot be trusted to deal with getting from breakfast to lunch without doing some egregious transgression against what we consider Humankind. In various films he has pissed in the sink (while bare naked) in front of the children, kill a girlfriend's beloved pet in the garbage disposal, and in another movie, defended his garden to the death, because of the many small lives, including a kitten, within.
What’s stranger is the man behind the mask: a Midwestern scion of a wealthy family, who ate dinner every evening with gloves on, and who had to wash said gloves, every night from eight to sixteen, because he pushed his peas onto his fork with his fingers. His formal education included a stay in Choate Rosemary Hall, in Wallingford, CT, the Actor's Studio, under Lee Strasbourg and his early work was praised by Marilyn Monroe.
Even at 80, he’s handsome, with light-colored hair, dazzling blue eyes and truly impressive cheekbones. Considering the company he kept in the biker era, you’d think he’d have some epic tales of chemical debauchery, but never has drunk alcohol or caffeine, and has a completely clean record otherwise. Many of his best performancese were mostly unscripted and completely improvised...exactly what inner demons he's channeling remain a mystery.
I'll leave the details of his bio to other noders...so without further ado...
The Bruce Dern impersonation, a great psychological weapon according to one of my martial arts friends...
The idea is to be at once threateningly friendly, and friendly in a threatening way: of course you like him, but suggesting a way that might be uncomfortable for your mark. When you see him, smile. Smile. Show every one of your wolf-like teeth. And then, the dance begins.
The key phrase: “I was looking for you!”
The mark expects violence. You don’t give it to them. Instead, you give him….Love. Clumsy, overbearing, manic, demented, love, the way you’d be if you ate a handful of mollies with a couple of phatties and a multicolor jelly megashot as a chaser. Your eyes are huge, melting, pools of worshipful simple attention, your hand is out, and a simple handshake with you is neither going to be just a handshake, nor very simple. Fumble over it, go into a soul shake, pull them close, for a bear hug, edging into a sloppy biker kiss, all the while muttering something like “Y’know…I really love you man…I’m just so glad I got to see you, right here, right now…I…”
Laughter. Recoil. “Well, maybe I am, maybe…Y’know…Don’t you know someone, maybe? I’ve been having problems…Um…” Rubs head. Perhaps sits.
If questioned, just shrug and say, completely deadpan, you’re sorry they took it the wrong way. You really haven't seen them for awhile, and the last time...Oh, yes. You're going to stay far away from them. (And you know they do, too.)
If the mark isn’t running in fear, trying to get the authorities, or fumbling for their cellphone, Smile again, and lumber off to the men’s room..