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The Late Movies: 8 Character Actors Who Always Steal the Scene

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Obviously, these are some of my favorites, and I've certainly left lots of worthy actors off this list. If there's anyone else you wish had made the list, let me know in the comments!

Dan Hedaya

Best known for his role as Frances McDormand's vengeful, cuckolded husband in the Coen Brothers' 1984 classic Blood Simple, Hedaya's one of those actors who seems to radiate menace. In this scene, the man who's been sleeping with his wife -- and who works at his bar -- asks him for back pay.

Dean Stockwell

... was a child actor -- he famously played Gregory Peck's son in Gentleman's Agreement -- and besides his fame for co-starring in Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula, he's probably best remembered for his roles in David Lynch films -- especially this unforgettable scene in Blue Velvet, where he plays Ben -- "one suave fucker!" NSFW, obviously!

Danny Huston

Danny Huston is one of those faces you see all the time, steals every scene he's in, but almost never gets the leading role. He is, in fact, the son of Legendary director John Huston, and he's appeared in more movies than I can possibly name here. One of my favorite roles of his is as a possibly-insane and brutally poetic outlaw in the absolutely stunning Australian western The Proposition (a film full of wonderful actors -- John Hurt, Emily Watson, Ray Winstone). Just a warning: this scene is rather violent.

Hal Holbrook

The oldest actor ever to be nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar -- for his role in Into the Wild -- Holbrook was previously best known for his one man show about Mark Twain.

Peter Stormare

The Swedish-born actor with a face of stone, he pops up in films left and right these days -- especially films by the Coen Brothers. He was Wood Chipper Guy in Fargo and one of the Nihilists in The Big Lebowski. (So yeah, some swearing.)

Gary Cole

Gary Cole's been in bazillions of movies and TV shows, but he'll be forever associated with just one role -- as the boss, Lumbergh, in Office Space.

Crispin Glover

He's impossible to forget as Marty McFly's father in Back to the Future -- and pulled a Joaquin Phoenix of his own a few years later on The David Letterman Show.

John Turturro

Probably my all-time favorite character actor, John Turturro can make almost any movie worth watching. Everyone remembers him from The Big Lebowski, in which he plays -- I'm not sure what to call it -- a bowling mariachi gangster? In any case, this brief-but-legendary scene is definitely NSFW.

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]


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