So, precisely how bad was the late Lawrence Tierney, the legendary actor who memorably inhabited roles in such films and television series as The Greatest Show on Earth, Naked City, Peter Gunn, Prizzi’s Honor, Silver Bullet and Reservoir Dogs? Bad enough, apparently, to make Johnny Depp (of any era) look like a hopeless piker or so troubled that Charlie Sheen himself might have been tempted to stage an intervention. Of course, troubled actors are nothing new in Hollywood and a lot is tolerated by anxious studio-heads as long as the box office receipts keep coming up biscuits and gravy and the woke mob doesn’t show up with pitchforks in hand at their mansion doors; Which goes some ways in explaining the colorful yet tumultuous career of Tierney who got his breakthrough film role in 1945’s Dillinger and who worked steadily in the industry until his passing in 2002. Tierney’s story is a kaleidoscope of colors, most of them closely hewn to darker shades as was befitting his character. His is a story that is endlessly fascinating and, alternately, frustrating: Fascinating because the man had a clear gift and talent to perform; frustrating because as varied and storied as his long spanning career was, there’s a sense that it could have been so much more if the man’s inner-demons had not inevitably gotten the better of him. But of such inner-turmoil are great Hollywood legends (and Lifetime movies) made. One intrepid soul who subscribes to that train of thought is author and producer Burt Kearns who, according to our Born to Kill fanatics over at The Hollywood Reporter, is set to unleash the behind the scenes story of Tierney in an upcoming biography.
The untitled biography on troubled star Lawrence Tierney by documentary producer Burt Kearns has landed a publishing home with the University Press of Kentucky with a publication date of 2022 just announced. According to Kearns, the new book will partly rely on “often raucous recollections” of Hollywood insiders that worked with Tierney over the years from actors that worked in director Quentin Tarantino’s debut film Reservoir Dogs (the mercurial director actually nearly came to fisticuffs with Tierney on the set of Reservoir before firing him in front of the crew), the scriptwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and film historian David Del Valle, among others. The release of the new biography is being timed to coordinate with the 30th anniversary of Tarantino’s freshman film.
“Tierney’s life was more action-packed and outrageous than any movie,” Kearns revealed in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “What’s most amazing is the number of people contacting me to talk about their experiences with him. Larry was far more influential and complicated than his tabloid image would suggest. He really was a ‘force of nature’ – onscreen and off.”
Keep an eye out and an ear open for Burt Kearns’ biography on Lawrence Tierney: It looks like a must-read for any self-respecting student of Hollywood history.