Paul L. Smith: An Appreciation

Though he began his acting career in feature films with Exodus (1960),Paul L. Smith was unknown to me until he appeared as Bluto in Robert Altman’s Popeye (1980).

A few years later, I caught his earlier performance in Midnight Express (1978) and had no idea it was the same actor.

It wasn’t just the obvious difference in facial hair, but the frighteningly subtle menace he projected in Alan Parker’s controversial film. Smith was equally adept at playing larger than life characters.

Recently, I discovered this odd little movie (which I may write about later)–

–and, like that, my interest in Paul L. Smith’s filmography was rekindled.

Throughout the years, Mr. Smith appeared in motion pictures on the A-list, B-list, and below, but he always stood out.

I was sad to learn that he passed away in 2012, but he lived a long, rich life. In the interview below, filmed just a few years before his death, he comes across as a charming and fascinating individual. Very friendly and down to earth.

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