If you saw The Usual Suspects, you may remember that one of the most iconic scenes from the film was the police line-up. Apparently, the actors struggled with their lines for the scene which led to screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie feeding them their lines off-camera. When Stephen said his line, the other actors couldn’t help but break character.
Actor Gabriel Byrne remembers that they often burst out laughing and could barely keep it together between takes. Kevin Spacey admitted that the hardest part was trying not to laugh, but Stephen and Kevin Pollak were the worst offenders when it came to breaking character.
Leave The Bad In The Past
Some films are so awful that they leave a lasting impression. Unfortunately, Stephen was in a less-than-stellar film. In 1996, he starred in the comedy “Bio-Dome,” which was directed by Jason Bloom, and co-starred Pauly Shore. The film was a sort of unusual buddy flick and, though the film received an unsettling 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, there was actually a sequel in discussion.
It may interest you to know that, in 1996, both the film and Shore won a Razzie Award. In 2013, Stephen shared on Mancow Muller’s radio show that he was speaking with Shore about making a sequel. But the project never gained momentum and was never picked up. Some projects are better left in the past.
His Greatest Role?
If Bio-Dome was Stephen’s flop, then The Usual Suspects may be his best film. The film premiered in 1995, with Stephen playing the role of Michael McManus. Baldwin had grown tired of doing independent films due to unmet expectations and was ready for a change.
When he met director Bryan Singer, Stephen had a 15-minute monologue about what it would be like for Singer to work with him. But Singer wasn’t put off by Stephen’s speech and told him exactly what he expected from his role in the film and what he wanted as a director. Stephen appreciated his directness and clarity and the two went forward to create a successful film, especially in the eyes of the audience
One Last Interesting Fact
Another interesting fact about that scene: their goal was to get the typically serious Byrne to crack up and break character. But Byrne was tough to crack and his co-stars ended up spending all morning trying to make him laugh. On their break, director Bryan Singer reprimanded the five actors for failing at their task. Eventually, one of the takes where they couldn’t stay serious had to be used, and editor John Ottman used a combination of the takes they made and decided to showcase the humor.
In the scene where the crew meets Redfoot after a botched drug deal, he flicks his cigarette at McManus’ (Stephen’s) face. It turns out that the actor playing Redfoot was supposed to flick the cigarette at Stephen’s chest, but he missed and hit his face instead. This means that Stephen’s reaction was genuine.
A Rocky Past
Though he had some lucrative, film opportunities in the past (excluding Bio-Dome), Stephen learned the hard way that money can easily slip away. In 2009, he reportedly filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming to owe over $2.3 million in debt. In addition, he owned a $1.1 million New York home.
The burden of two mortgages on the property and $1 million in back taxes became too much for him to handle. Sadly, in 2012, Stephen was arrested for failing to file tax returns from 2008 to 2010.