What’s this post about?
So, you’re sitting at home watching a film and you shout, “Hey, it’s that guy!” then proceed to argue with whoever else is around you about the last film where you saw them.
Obviously, you can reach out for your nearest internet device and look them up on Wikipedia or IMDb, but you won’t, as you have no idea what their character is called. Basically, I’m preparing you to win future pub quizzes and game shows.
This is dedicated to those actors where you enjoy their work, but still can’t remember exactly where you’ve seen them before because they’re always cast as Henchman no.3, Army Colonel, mother of main protagonist, Italian mobster, the School Headmistress or my personal favourite, Angry Police Chief. But what’s their name and where the heck do you know them from?
This time around, it’s: Robert Davi
Recently I was watching one of the 80s Bond films, Licence to Kill. This film is almost a who’s who of “That Guys“. For example, that guy from Twin Peaks, Everett McGilI, or that guy from Batteries Not Included, Frank McRae. It also features a young Benicio Del Toro as a knife-wielding maniac. He doesn’t count though, since most people today would recognise him and remember his name, but I still did a double-take as I hadn’t seen a performance by young Benicio Del Toro before, so he earns an honourable mention. He didn’t have that signature mumble down, yet, but he was a pretty scary character and as with all Bond villains, comes to a sticky end.
Anyway, back to Robert Davi. As I’ve already mentioned, he’s in Licence to Kill (1989) with Benicio Del Toro and Timothy Dalton. In this film, he’s even the main bad guy, a ruthless drug lord called Franz Sanchez, rather than a forgettable henchman.
But there’s a reason that you recognise him and it’s that during the 80s he was in everything. He’s been in TV episodes of The Incredible Hulk, the A-Team, LA Law, The Equalizer, Hart to Hart, TJ Hooker, Hill Street Blues to mention just a few.
More recently, you may have spotted Robert Davi in episodes of Stargate:Atlantis, CSI:Crime Scene Investigation and Criminal Minds.
But where do you really remember him from? Well…
Jake Fratelli in The Goonies. He was part of the evil Fratelli gang in The Goonies! Apparently during the scene where he’s captured Chunk, Robert Davi is actually pulling on Chunk’s hair (played by Jeff Cohen) to get the distressed response from the young actor. In interviews, Davi can’t recall whether this was his own idea, or if it was inspired by the other Fratelli brother, Francis, played by Joe Pantoliano. Davi also claims to have come up with the scene where Sloth has to listen to Jake sing before he’ll be given food. Hey, I like how this guy thinks! In real life, Robert Davi is a classically trained singer, has released an album of Frank Sinatra songs and now performs around the world. You can find his work on DaviSingsSinatra.com
Davi was also in Die Hard with the hilarious name “FBI Special Agent Big Johnson”. He was the hard-hearted character when told that if they (as in, the authorities) try to take out the terrorists, they may lose 20 or 25% of the hostages and replies that he can live with that. With this response, in action movie tradition, he obviously sealed his doom.
He played an FBI agent again in the NBC series, Profiler for a run of 88 episodes. You may have also spotted Davi in Predator 2 as a cop and The Expendables 3 as the head of the Albanian Mafia. Being of actual Sicilian and Italian descent, he has played his share of Mafia types.
He has also directed his own film, called The Dukes, released in 2011 and shown at various film festivals.
His most recent films released in 2015 and 2016 include sci-fi movies, action films and biopics, with other films planned for release into 2017, so it’s likely you’ll be shouting “Hey, it’s that guy!” again very soon.
TL;DR – Where do I know that guy from?! You’ve seen Robert Davi as part of evil gangs, a cop, a member of the Mafia, in sci-fi movies and generally in all the 80s TV shows and films you’ve ever watched. You can also catch him singing Frank Sinatra songs at a venue near you!