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Why Curly Bill Brocius From Tombstone Looks So Familiar

The 1993 film "Tombstone" was a lot of things to a lot of people. For critics, it was "a stylish modern western with a solid story and a well-chosen ensemble cast," according to the critical consensus on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, on which the movie enjoys a Certified Fresh rating and 74% critics score. For descendants of the Clanton and McLaury families, it's a point of contention, a film in which their forebears continue to be maligned with an inaccurate and romanticized view of what went down at the O.K. Corral in the titular town (via The Los Angeles Times). For fans of the story of Wyatt Earp, it was the better of two offerings out of Hollywood between 1993 and 1994, outpacing Lawrence Kasdan's film "Wyatt Earp," with Kevin Costner in the title role. For superior Wyatt Earp actor Kurt Russell, "Tombstone" was his unofficial directorial debut, based on an interview co-star Val Kilmer gave to The Hollywood Reporter.

For slightly more casual stakeholders (read: movie fans), "Tombstone" was a gritty yet polished tale of brotherly love, tragedy, and revenge set in and around a mining boomtown in the Old West. In addition to its compelling tale, well-trod themes, and preponderance of incredible shots, it boasts one of the most talented ensemble casts imaginable. Russell starred as Wyatt Earp, with Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton starring as his brothers Virgil and Morgan and Kilmer as their brother in everything but blood, John "Doc" Holliday. The underrated Michael Biehn starred as antagonist Johnny Ringo, Stephen Lang portrayed Ike Clanton, and Thomas Haden Church appeared as Billy Clanton, with appearances from Terry O'Quinn, Billy Bob Thornton, Charlton Heston, Billy Zane, and Michael Rooker. 

The cast featured another notable entry: late actor Powers Boothe, who brought real-life historical figure and secondary antagonist William "Curly Bill" Brocius to life on the screen. Boothe enjoyed a long career in Hollywood and there are a number of films from which you may recognize him.

Boothe got caught up in the Cold War drama of Red Dawn

In 1984, Patrick Swayze took on the invading Soviet Army with nothing but taekwondo, charisma, and the most-lethal cheekbones in the history of mankind. Or, close to something like that. "Red Dawn" was the answer to America's worst Cold-War nightmares come true, an alternate timeline in which the United States is invaded by the USSR and its allies and Swayze leads a rag-tag group of high school students in a guerilla-style resistance. Joining Swayze's Jed Eckert are Charlie Sheen as his younger brother Matt; C. Thomas Howell as their friend Robert Morris; Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey as Erica and Toni Mason, and Harry Dean Stanton as their captured father, Tom Eckert, who's being held in the occupied part of America. They eventually encounter Lt. Colonel Andrew Tanner, a United States Air Force pilot who was shot down by Soviet fighters. Tanner, portrayed by Powers Boothe, provides an exposition dump to bring the group up to speed on the state of affairs in the rest of the country: Washington, D.C. is one of several cities destroyed by nuclear strikes but American counterattacks have slowed Soviet advances at the site of two natural topographic features, the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.

Director John Milius had originally wanted Robert Blake to play the role of Tanner but was overruled by MGM Studios, according to a September 2009 issue of Variety. Boothe initially had a love scene with Thompson that was edited out of the final cut. "When I made 'Red Dawn,' my love scene with Powers Boothe was cut out after some previews because of the age difference. And that was the main reason I took the movie — it was such a terrific scene," Thompson told the Los Angeles Times in 1987.

He faced off against Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death

After taking on the invading Soviet Army in "Red Dawn," Powers Boothe set his sights on an even more formidable adversary: the Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Boothe and Van Damme found themselves at odds with each other in 1995's "Sudden Death," a deliciously punny title for a film about a terrorist attack during a hockey game. Former CIA operative Joshua Foss (Boothe) must have grown jaded overtime because he decides to take the vice president and a handful of other important folks hostage as the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, the goalie of which is to score hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom or else he'll move forward with the detonation of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. But Foss and the terrorists are about to run out of puck, because disgraced Pittsburgh firefighter-turned-arena-fire-marshal Darren McCord (Van Damme) brought his kids to the game and he's going on defense, man. At one point, Foss memorably threatened to fill the mouth of McCord's daughter Emily (Whittni Wright) with spiders.

Boothe spoke to Empire about his decision to take on the role. "Tommy Lee [Jones] had just done a film with Steven Seagal. When 'Sudden Death' came up, I quite liked the part and all that stuff, but they also offered me a lot of money. I thought, 'Well, if it's good enough for Tommy Lee to do this kind of thing, I can do it.' As it turned out I had a lot of fun playing the guy. In fact, when they finished the film and did focus groups, audiences liked me so much that we went back and reshot the end to make my demise much more spectacular. I was pleased with that."

Powers Boothe helped bring a graphic novel to life in Frank Miller's Sin City

In 2005, director Robert Rodriguez and an all-star cast brought the pages of Frank Miller's "Sin City" to life on the big screen, a watershed moment for comic book and graphic novel adaptation. The gritty, violent, and visually daring film faithfully recreated Miller's acclaimed graphic novel series frame-by-frame, with powerful performances from the likes of Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Benicio del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Elijah Wood in iconic roles. "Sin City" — on which Miller is also credited as director — also features a turn by gravel-voiced Powers Boothe as the ruthless Senator Ethan Roark, who serves as the primary antagonist of the source material and father of secondary antagonist Roark Junior (Nick Stahl), affectionately referred to as "That Yellow Bastard" by Det. Hartigan (Willis). 

"Sin City" did well with critics and audiences alike, tallying a 74% critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes — good enough for a Certified Fresh rating — and grossing just shy of $159 million worldwide, against a production budget of $40 million (via Box Office Mojo). That was enough for Dimension Films to bankroll a follow-up, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," released in 2014. Many cast members returned to reprise their roles, including Boothe. The second film didn't fare nearly as well as the original, with critics noting that it boasted the same color palette but lacked the impact of the first effort. 

"Sin City: A Dame to kill For" was Boothe's final feature film role, with the rest of his acting credits coming in television roles. Rodriguez had particular praise for Boothe when he died in 2017, saying "I loved working with Powers Boothe. A towering Texas gentleman and world class artist."

He was part of Deadwood's outstanding ensemble cast

Powers Boothe returned to the Old West as part of the ensemble cast of "Deadwood," HBO's acclaimed Western drama. Set in the titular city in South Dakota, more than a decade before it was a legal part of the United States, "Deadwood" followed the goings-on in the mining town around the time of the Black Hills Gold Rush. In real life, Deadwood was known to be inhabited or visited by Old West icons like Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, and Calamity Jane, each of whom appeared as characters on the show, brought to life by Keith Carradine, Gale Harold, and Robin Weigert, respectively. Boothe brought to life Cy Tolliver, proprietor of the Bella Union Saloon, which served as a bar, casino and brothel. The establishment existed in Deadwood in real life, but, according to Slate, was more of a saloon and Vaudeville theatre than a brothel and place to gamble, as depicted on the show.

Tolliver enjoys a respectfully brutal rivalry with fellow saloon owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), the proprietor of the less-classy Gem Theatre, which also serves as a brothel. Both men receive frequent visits and attention from Sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) , who also runs a hardware store with his partner Sol Star (John Hawkes), whose wife Trixie (Paula Malcomson) is in Swearengen's employ as a prostitute.

Though many of the characters who feature on "Deadwood" are based on real-life figures in the historical titular town, Tolliver is not among them. In addition to Hickock, Earp, and Calamity Jane, Bullock, Star, Swearengen, and Dayton Callie's Charlie Utter were all based on historical figures known to have lived in or visited Deadwood. Hickock was famously killed there, shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall (Garret Dillahunt) while playing poker, holding the proverbial Dead Man's Hand — two pair, aces and eights, all black-suited —according to "Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers."

Boothe was on the World Security Council in The Avengers

Powers Boothe made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first team-up entry into the franchise, 2012's "The Avengers." No, you won't see him lacing up his boots or dawning Spandex to fight alongside Chris Evans' Captain America — if anything, his character is just as big of a threat to the citizens of Earth as Loki or his army of Chitauri warriors. Credited in the film as World Security Council, Boothe was a member of the shadowy trio who admonished SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) for moving forward with the Avengers Initiative. They also kinda, maybe, sort of ordered the nuke that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) had to dispose of to be launched at New York City — an order Fury accurately terms "a stupid-a** decision" and wisely elects to ignore. Let's just say no members of the World Security Council were invited out for shawarma after the dust settled.

When the MCU transitioned to the small screen for "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," Boothe made the trip, reprising his role and even getting a name: Gideon Malick, a senior Hydra leader who showed up early on in the show's third season. Malick made his first appearance in the season's sixth episode, entitled "Among Us Hide," offering shelter to Werner von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark), the son of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Malick's old fried and Hydra compatriot. Of course, Malick later contacts Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) to form an alliance and offers Strucker's location.

On Boothe's performance, "Agents of SHIELD" creator Joss Whedon said "We'd be fools not to use him more. We couldn't be bigger fans of his portrayal of the role," Whedon told Entertainment Weekly. We knew going in that we were going to get some bang for our buck, and we've been loving writing the character. We love the way he's attacking the scenes. We plan on keeping him around, because we'd be idiots not to."

According to his IMDb page, Gideon Malick on "Agents of SHIELD" was Boothe's final credited role before his death in May 2017.