R.I.P. Earl Boen, veteran voice actor and Terminator co-star

R.I.P. Earl Boen, veteran voice actor and Terminator co-star

Earl Boen at T2Photo: CBS via Getty Images

Earl Boen is dead. A veteran character and voice actor, Boen will be best known to film audiences for his role in the first three Terminator films, playing Dr. Peter Silberman tortured endlessly in The Terminator, T2: Judgment Day, and Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. . With a track record that includes sitcoms, dramas, video games, action films, and just about anything else an actor could have put his talents to in the second half of the 20th century, Boen amassed almost 300 credited roles in one year. more than 40. career. According to Variety, he died this week in Hawaii after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. Boen was 81 years old.

Boen made his name primarily in television comedy: His early résumé, from the mid-’70s onward, is peppered with many of the biggest sitcoms of the era, including MASH, Three’s Company, Barnaby Jones and more. Even as a youngster, Boen’s bare face and gift for sadness made him a regular presence on shows looking to inject some boring wit into their one-episode ensembles; although he occasionally settled into a longer role (including a single season on It’s A Living in 1981), Boen would remain a freelancer for most of his career.

However, a brief foray into science fiction in the 1980s would pay huge career dividends; Battle Beyond The Stars may be best remembered today as Roger Corman’s shocking attempt to rip off Star Wars, but it was also where Boen – playing the lead member of a crew of clones covered in pancake makeup – first worked with the director his art. an amateur filmmaker and model maker named James Cameron. Four years later, Cameron would take on the role of Boen in his feature film debut, The Terminator.

Dr Silberman asks Kyle Reese – The Terminator (Cameron, 1984)

Condescending, skeptical and barely stifling a yawn as he interviews a despondent Michael Biehn, Dr. Peter Silberman is the face of faithless humanity in the first three Terminator films. It’s a piece that drew heavily on Boen’s gifts for comedy, while also being a vital component of delivering Cameron’s plot clock to jump around in time. (It’s Silberman, after all, who’s asking all the weird questions about time travel and future wars that are likely starting in viewers’ heads by this point.) In Boen’s hands, he’s the perfect human villain for a franchise like Terminator: A small, smug man who constantly has his world blown up by evil renegades and unstoppable killing machines. It was such a memorable role, in fact, that Boen became the only performer besides Arnold Schwarzenegger to appear in all three films, appearing for a brief scene (and then an even quicker escape) in Terminator 3 .

This was Boen’s last screen role, as it happens, retiring from screen acting at the age of 62. Instead, he put his energies towards his increasingly prolific voice acting career, building on a side of his career that he had been developing ever since. working on the GI Joe cartoon in the 1980s. Island, which he would play from 1990 to 2010.) Boen’s deep, rich voice lent itself well to villains, though not exclusively: He also had a semi-regular role in the animated version of Clifford: The Big Red Dog, hearkening back to his career love of comedy.

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