Lessons From Lee Marvin
Any film fan who has ever felt that kinship with the coolest, most admirable movie badasses will have surely seen the amazing work of Mr. Lee Marvin, one of the greatest and most iconic actors of his generation. As a defining 'tough guy' of cinema, he was arguably one of the first to embody the hardest, moodiest and most edgy character traits which would carry over to the toughest stars of the new generation.
Mr. Marvin's hard-nosed approach to acting got a surprisingly early start in life! Born in New York in 1924, he later studied at school while spending his free time as a teenager going hunting, reportedly catching deer, puma and other animals. He later quit studying to join the Marine Corps and served in World War II during the Battle of Saipan. Surviving a fight which killed the majority of his platoon, the wounded Lee Marvin earned a Purple Heart and was granted medical discharge.
Upon returning home and taking up odd jobs, he stumbled into acting while working as a plumber's assistant in a theatre, when he was asked to step in and replace an actor on short-notice. After beginning as a stage actor he made the transition to cinema in 1950. Initially cast in war films, he would even assist the directors in making the films look and feel authentic, offering tips and suggestions on costumes and firearm props. Defining his unique look and style from the outset, his most memorable early films include Marlon Brando's The Wild One and The Caine Mutiny, but it was starring in the TV series: M Squad, one of the earliest, dynamic police dramas, which really got audiences paying attention. As one of the first gritty cop shows, this series was groundbreaking in 1957!
With his gravelly voice, white hair and tall, imposing frame, Lee Marvin became a recognisable character actor and an obvious choice for the All-American hero and hard-as-nails anti hero. Taking the lead as the tough, no-nonsense hitman in The Killers, Lee Marvin dominated the screen in one of his most underrated starring roles. Further leads in The Dirty Dozen, Point Blank and Hell in the Pacific further cemented his reputation as one of all-time greats and a real-life badass no one in their right mind would mess with! He starred in countless commercially and critically successful films throughout the following years and delivered his best known, final performances in The Big Red One and The Delta Force, with Chuck Norris. Sadly, he suffered a heart attack and passed away in 1987 at the age of 63, despite the fact that his filmmaking output had hardly slowed down throughout his entire career.
For both hardcore fans and aspiring actors or action stars looking for inspiration from the best the industry has to offer, surely Lee Marvin remains one figure we'd be well served to acknowledge. Both in his tough onscreen persona and relentless, motivated work ethic, this was a real-life war hero who channeled his energy into film and subconsciously inspired generations of action stars who would take notes, driven by his energy, charisma and attitude. No doubt the physical traits of action cinema would change... yet the rogue, one man army qualities of the classic, take-no-prisoners hero can be spotted a mile off. If you know his career well, there's never any harm in revisiting the finest moments for some much needed inspiration... and if you don't know his work, what are you waiting for?