Sure, I have a deep and abiding love for Agent Cooper, but it borders more on worship than “hey, let’s stay in and watch an action film tonight.” That, and he’s hella crazy.
(People have stopped saying “hella” now, haven’t they.)
Which is why I began looking at Sheriff Harry S. Truman and his head of lush curls with a more discerning eye.
And it’s also why, when I turned off the last episode of Twin Peaks, I said, “Huh. What’s Michael Ontkean, also known as Sheriff Harry S. Truman, up to nowadays?”
(I seriously said that.)
(I wish I had someone to talk to.)
In learning what he’s up to nowadays, I learned a few things about what he was up to thenadays, like he was a hockey player, which I totally didn’t realize, because his teeth looked to be in pretty good shape, ha, ha, ha.
Like many Twin Peaks alums, or at least the one I’ve looked up so far, Ontkean began his career as a child actor, with a role as “Jeremy” on a 1950s TV series called “Hudson’s Bay,” which I have just now heard of. Then there’s an 11-year gap (during which I can only assume he focused on hockey and/or masked vigilanteism) before his role as “Man” on Ironside, which is probably a TV show about a boat, but I’m going to pretend is about robots.
His big break came with 1977’s Slap Shot, in which he played a hockey player and sat next to Paul Newman in a scene or two.
He did some more stuff that I’m not even going to pretend to have heard of/care about, and finally it was the ’90s and Twin Peaks was birthed from David Lynch’s brain like some sort of crazed Athena.
Ontkean wowed audiences by acting like he was in love with Josie Packard, who was dreadfully played by Joan Chen. (As an aside, it took me until this most recent re-watching of Twin Peaks to finally decide that it is not that Josie Packard is a horrible actor, but that Joan Chen is.) Also, he put up with Cooper’s mystic bullshit like a champ. Also, he had that gorgeous head of hair.
And, of course, like other former Twin Peaks stars, Ontkean went on to have a productive and fulfilling career in … wait, where did he go for the last two decades, anyway?
Well, immediately after Twin Peaks, he did some TV movies, including one called Legacy of Lies (1992), which was probably some incest story or something. Also another one called The Stepford Husbands (1996), because no one has come up with an original idea since Twin Peaks apparently. In the late ’90s, he had a role in Disney’s Summer of the Monkeys, which, shame on me, I assumed was a horror film like Dawn of the Dead, but is apparently a family-friendly flick. About monkeys.
Then it was on to more made-for-TV movies, like 2002’s A Killing Spring and guest appearances on the Outer Limits. Which actually happened before A Killing Spring, so I wrote that sentence totally out of chronological order.
From 2004 to 2005, Ontkean played Gordon Matthews on North Shore (some sort of romance drama), which doesn’t even get his name listed above Shannon Doherty’s on North Shore’s IMDB page. That makes me sad. In 2008, he was in the short-lived comedy Sophie, which I’ve never actually heard of before now. (OK, actually, everything on his resume, except for Twin Peaks, I’ve never heard of before now, even that hockey movie with Newman.) His most recent IMDB entry is as Cousin six in a movie in post-production called The Descendants, which makes me hope he’s making a real living coaching hockey or something, because that six is totally not capitalized.
He currently lives in Hawaii, so there’s hope for a guest shot on Hawaii Five-O, which I assume won’t be canceled despite CBS’ insistence on keeping Daniel Dae Kim fully clothed.