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Phil O'Hearn

I'd Like to Thank My Dentist
by Phil O'Hearn

November 2002

I'm not just another pretty face. There was a time when I played leading man roles. But now I am a character actor. Please notice my headshot. This is my alternate look. Four out of my last five film roles have been without my teeth, my dentures. My toothless look is something filmmakers like. It is distinctive if not distinguished. And my face is more pliable and elastic without my teeth. No botox for me!

Walter Brennan made a nice career for himself as a toothless actor. And a very fine character actor he was. It makes me wonder why most actors want to be pretty. Have you noticed audition postings for Circus Freaks or Amputees? I have. So much for pressure to conform; deform is where it's at. Filmmakers like something different.

I first got dentures about six years ago. Immediately, I did a stage play without my teeth. I played the old man, Candy, in OF MICE AND MEN. Then I played Colonel Kincaid in THE LAST MEETING OF THE KNIGHTS OF THE WHITE MAGNOLIA without my teeth. The entire play I was onstage in a wheelchair, wearing pajamas and not wearing teeth. It was quite comfortable.

So, what is the point? Maybe it is better to be yourself than to try to fit into the good-looking actor stereotype. What I can say for certain is it works for me. Since the beginning of summer, I played a toothless ghost in the Breakaway documentary GHOST HUNTERS, a toothless blood-drooling clown in Tom Flynn's DELUSIONAL, and a toothless bum in Troy Anthony Miller's SEVERANCE. And I have a read-through tomorrow for another toothless bum in Andy Smith's THE JOYS OF TELEMARKETING. Some actors may be able to bum me out, but they can't out bum me!

As a comic I perform as myself, but also as a toothless character called Skeeter. For a while I tried transitioning from Phil to Skeeter in the middle of my set. But some people seemed to think it was gross for me to take out my teeth onstage in front of them. So now I either perform as Phil or Skeeter, not both.

The future is bright. I'm currently working on an impression of really old Elvis, and a one-man show entitled Methuselah: the first five hundred years, or, I'M A PATRIARCH DAMMIT.

When I win my Academy Award, Tony or Emmy, my acceptance speech will begin: "I'd like to thank my dentist."

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