Michael Ontkean

(About actors, movies, and tv, with very little language stuff in it.)

Watching Twin Peaks (the original tv series) on Netflix, and delighted to see Michael Ontkean (cute, amiable, and hunky) in it again. I’m a great fan of smiles, so here’s the young Ontkean smiling:

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Brief sketch about the man, from Wikipedia:

Michael Leonard Ontkean (born 24 January 1946) is a retired Canadian actor. He is known for the 1970s crime drama The Rookies, the films Slap Shot (1977) and Making Love (1982), and the cult-favorite TV series Twin Peaks (1990–1991).

As a teenager, he worked as an actor in Vancouver, then had a serious ice hockey career at the University of New Hampshire before becoming a full-time actor, in a long string of tv shows and movies, until his retirement in 2011.

Three of his roles that impressed me: in Slap Shot, Making Love, and (especially) Twin Peaks.

Slap Shot. On the first, from Wikipedia:

Slap Shot is a 1977 comedy film directed by George Roy Hill, written by Nancy Dowd and starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean. It depicts a minor league hockey team that resorts to violent play to gain popularity in a declining factory town.

The movie is a star vehicle for Newman, but Ontkean got a chance to use his ice hockey skills to professional advantage. Here we see him — not only shirtless, but in a jockstrap — as player Ned Braden:

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A fine figure of a man.

Making Love. Romantic gay relationships came to Hollywood in this movie, which was, however, extremely cautious in how it presented the two main characters’ sexual relationship. It did get them to bed together, but without any clinches, and I don’t think they actually got to kiss on screen — this ten years after the wonderful British film Sunday Bloody Sunday (which came complete with hot gay male kissing). From Wikipedia:

Making Love is a 1982 American drama film starring Kate Jackson, Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean. The film tells the story of a married man [Ontkean] coming to terms with his homosexuality and the love triangle that develops around him, his wife [Jackson] and another man [Hamlin].

Ontkean’s character is inexperienced with men, also searching for a long-term partner. Hamlin’s is an old hand at sex with men, and promiscuous. They are both satisfyingly masculine and hunky — no campy stereotypes here, but not a lot of physical contact either. (As a fan of male-male affection of all kinds, I felt cheated. It’s taken Hollywood a long time to get sort of comfortable with same-sex affection, especially between men.)

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(Hamlin went on to a big role in L.A. Law and elsewhere, and in a few years Ontkean got the best role of his career.)

Twin Peaks. Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and Ontkean as Twin Peaks Sheriff Harry S. Truman. Cooper and Truman are thrown together as partners in crime, so to speak, and they develop a solid friendship that provides some stable core within the circus of derangement, bizarre surreality, venality, and violence that surrounds them in Twin Peaks and across the border in Canada. From Wikipedia:

Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by Mark Frost and David Lynch that premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC.

… The series follows an investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The narrative draws on elements of crime drama, while its uncanny tone and supernatural elements are consistent with horror tropes, and its campy, melodramatic portrayal of quirky characters engaged in dubious activities draws from American soap operas. Like much of Lynch’s work, it is distinguished by surrealism and offbeat humor, as well as distinctive cinematography. The show’s acclaimed score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti in collaboration with Lynch.

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Agent Cooper is quirky, intense, and fastidious, while Sheriff Truman is easy-going and dogged (Ontkean gravitated towards nice-guy roles, and this is a great one). The men are also physically complementary, with MacLachlan shorter and more compact than the amiably hunky Ontkean.

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