To celebrate the 65th birthday of one of Hollywood’s manliest tough guys, our friends at Squareeyed compiled a list of the 10 films that prove Kurt Russell to be the textbook definition of awesome.
From his early days right through to his spectacular performances of the last few years that have reestablished him as a household name, this is why we love Kurt Russell.
10. It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)
Did you know that Russell’s first movie credit (well, he goes uncredited, but we’ll still class this as his big break) involved him kicking Elvis? That’s how you set yourself up for a bright career, by showing the shins of The King himself what for.
9. Vanilla Sky (2001)
It takes a strong man to want to listen to Tom Cruise’s problems, but that’s exactly what Russell did as psychiatrist McCabe in Vanilla Sky, as Cruise’s David Aames recounts his life story from his prison cell. Things get more than a little strange from there, but Russell holds his own throughout.
8. Tango & Cash (1989)
Stallone and Russell, side by side as two cops who – as movie cops always seem to have to do – have to clear their names for a crime they didn’t commit? It’s perfect, dumb fun, full of cheesy moments… and the ever reliable double punch.
7. The Hateful Eight (2015)
From the opening scene of John “The Hangman” Ruth (played by Russell) and Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) having their standoff about whether or not Warren can jump about Ruth’s carriage, it’s an appearance by Russell that demands attention. Dealing with Daisy Domergue is no easy task, but the excellent descent into “whodunnit” madness is Tarantino at his best.
6. Tombstone (1993)
An obvious fan of the genre, Russell stands tall as the lead in this Western that involves more gunfights and moustaches than you can shake a stick at. The 90s may not have been the best time for Russell’s career, but this one’s a highlight.
5. Death Proof (2007)
Okay, so Quentin Tarantino’s homage to grind house cinema was more than a little flawed. Russell grabs the bull by the horns though and his take on psychopath Stuntman Mike carries the film; one minute comical, the next deadly, this is how you make a slasher out of an older gentleman.
4. Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Rocking some glorious facial hair, Russell plays Sheriff Hunt in this mad and madly overlooked Western that proves the genre still has legs, and that badasses don’t get rusty with age.
3. Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Director John Carpenter and Russell had a strong working relationship (more on that as the list goes on) with Big Trouble… being one of the most bonkers take on the kung fu action flick you’ll ever see.
2. Escape From New York (1981)
The third of his collaborations with John Carpenter to appear on this list, Russell manages to out-Clint even Eastwood in this hard hitting, tough as nails action flick that’s oh so gloriously of its time. Just don’t talk about the sequel.
1. The Thing (1982)
Here’s the Carpenter connection again, this time giving the world what is potentially one of the most definitive horror films of the 80s. Russell plays the no-nonsense RJ MacReady, a man whose research team is stranded all alone in the Antarctic, at least that’s what they think, till a shape-shifting alien starts picking them off one by one. From start to chilling finish, this is essential viewing.