Name as many Bill Pullman films as possible. Easy right? Well not as easy as you would think. Go ahead and give it a try. There are a few that everyone will get. Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping and, of course, Spaceballs but it’s difficult to think of more.
His role as Lone Starr in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs, set him on his way after a promising turn in the comedy Ruthless People. Starring alongside Danny DeVito and The Divine Miss M, Better Midler, Pullman was cast as the ever so slightly slow on the uptake Earl. With his bleached hair he is almost unrecognisable from his future roles.
His everyman persona was most evident in Sibling Rivalry. Alongside Kirstie Alley, a star who was on the rise with her role as Rebecca in Cheers, he was cast as a bumbling vertical blind salesman who becomes embroiled in the affairs of Kirstie and her extended family.
Smaller roles in A League of Their Own and the iconic 90’s flick, Singles followed and the New York native was on his way. Sommersby, Wyatt Earp and The Last Seduction came in quick succession, as well as a role in Sleepless in Seattle. Playing Meg Ryan’s fiancé, he was perfectly cast as the humidifier using Walter. Allergic to strawberries and pretty much everything else, he is the epitome of the safe choice, as opposed to Tom Hank’s Seattle-dwelling widower. Released in 1993, it was a huge success and became engraved in popular culture. How many of you remembered Bill in this one though?
Then came While You Were Sleeping. A post-Speed Sandra Bullock was cast as Annie and Pullman as the brother of her prospective beau. We all know how that turns out and the film itself was well received by all, garnering Bullock a Golden Globe nomination.
1996 saw the release of Independence Day. A summer blockbuster with an ensemble cast, it propelled Will Smith into the realm of superstar. It was Pullman’s President Whitmore however, whose rousing (some may say cheesy) speech became the focal point for the film. He also lent his voice for the video game of the film released the following year.
Roles came easy for Pullman and he showed no sign of slowing down. Brokedown Palace, The Grudge, Casper and Scary Movie 4 are all amongst his credits.
After moving into theatre and starring alongside character actress Mercedes Ruehl in the play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Pullman’s career took a new direction. As well as regular turns on Broadway, he also ventured into the field of creative writing. His first play, Expedition 6, opened in 2007 at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre.
Broadway constantly beckons, but Pullman has dipped his toe in to the realm of television. His role in Torchwood earned him a Saturn Award nomination for his trouble. Whatever he chooses to do, he always manages to immerse himself in the role. So much so you forget he was even there.