Frank Langella calls Skeletor “one of my very favorite parts”

skeletor masters of the universe

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In his new film, “Robot & Frank,” award-winning actor Frank Langella plays a former thief whose advancing age has eroded his ability to keep track of the years and take care of himself. His son buys him a robot caretaker (the film is set in the “near future” where such things are common), and after some initial friction, he develops a bond with the robot that has the pair embarking on a brand new heist.

The movie is the latest of many dramatic roles that have established the Oscar-nominated actor as one of the industry’s most talented, respected actors, and it is already generating some awards-friendly buzz on the festival circuit.

However, decades before “Robot & Frank” and his memorable turn as Richard Nixon in 2008’s “Frost/Nixon,” Langella played a fictional but no less sinister character in 1987’s silly live-action “Masters of the Universe” movie. Starring opposite musclebound Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, Langella played the aptly named, skeleton-faced villain Skeletor, whose plan to conquer the universe is derailed by He-Man, his powerful allies, and a bunch of plucky kids from Earth (including Courteney Cox). The film ends with a short, post-credits scene that has Skeletor rising from the depths of the pit he was cast into and announcing, “I will be back!”

While interviewing Langella about “Robot & Frank,” I couldn’t help asking him about his role as He-Man’s mortal enemy, as the film provided my very first introduction to the actor — a situation that clearly wasn’t unusual, given the actor’s quick response to my awkward segue from talk of senile dementia to discussion of Skeletor.

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As I explained that I wanted to ask him about the first role I ever saw him in, Langella spoke up before I finished my question.

“Skeletor?” he asked.

Given all of his dramatic roles over the years in historical dramas, thought-provoking science-fiction films, and various other movie and television projects that have showcased his talents, I asked him whether he ever looks back on playing Skeletor and, well… chuckles a bit at the relative silliness of it all.

“Never,” said Langella, who remained just as serious and professional as ever while describing his time playing He-Man’s skeletal foe.

“It’s one of my very favorite parts,” he continued. “I played him because my son was four years old and walked around with a sword yelling, ‘I [have] the power!’ And he loved, loved, loved Skeletor.”

“I didn’t even blink [when I was offered the role],” he explained. “I couldn’t wait to play him.”

And since Langella seemed so comfortable discussing his time as the bane of Eternia, I decided to push my luck and ask the all-important question on everyone’s minds that only he can answer…

Who’s more evil: Richard Nixon or Skeletor?

“Either one is fine by me,” he answered, barely cracking a smile.

And there you have it, folks. Keep an eye on IFC.com for more from our “Robot & Frank” interview with Langella and actress Susan Sarandon.

“Robot & Frank” will hit theaters in limited release August 17, and in wide release August 24. The film stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, and Liv Tyler. It’s directed by Jake Schreier.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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