has a way of righting itself when it comes to the arts. Sometimes it
restores clarity and reminds us of the great things out there we had
forgotten and sometimes things are going too well so it’ll regurgitate
something we tried to forget. But there’s usually some sort of balance.
Occasionally something falls through the cracks.
Like Mark Pillow.
What should have been a pretty good super villain, in more capable hands (sorry Mr. Furie), instead was turned into a ridiculously cheesy and beyond tepid character, spewing anti-Superman hate with his Gene Hackman voice.
But this wasn’t Mark Pillow’s fault.
Mark “won” the role of Nuclear Man based on a few skimpy criteria: he was the same height as Christopher Reeve (6′ 4″), had a nice tan and was physically able to appear tough on screen. Plus, director Sidney J. Furie’s son worked at the same talent agency Mark was a member of at the time, so that’s always a plus.
In an interview, Mark once had this to say about his character: “We had a lot of fight scenes together. Nuclear Man had a real mean streak and he knocked down the Great Wall of China just for the fun of it. He could also melt iron bars just by touching them. Superman didn’t get all his own way in that film. My character represented his biggest challenge yet. We circled the globe before we came face-to-face for the final climax. It was a real duel in the sun”.
While I love Superman IV for unhealthy reasons, I would never in my wildest dreams refer to Nuclear Man as Superman’s “biggest challenge”, but that’s the beauty of finding these long-lost actors who had a brief fling with stardom: they’re allowed hyperbole!
Before getting the Nuclear urge, Mark was a jack-of-all trades, working as an oil-rig worker, a telephone lineman and a Chippendale Dancer… and that’s something none of us need to visualize. After The Quest for Peace flopped, he made some brief appearances in a few TV shows (one of them Russian), but it’s no surprise his career was ruined by the movie, and that’s a shame. I kind of wish he had been able to make a few low-budget action movies before hanging up the black and gold cape for good, but it was never to be and Mr. Pillow soon disappeared into obscurity. A few years ago I heard rumors of him bar tending in Scotland, and can only hope that the rumor was true because it’d be too great NOT to be, but either way even IMdB Pro couldn’t track him down.
But of course Facebook could.
Earlier today a friend (a term loosely used) IM’d me the link to Mark Pillow’s Facebook page, and now this means that another entry on my extremely long Bucket List can be removed – Mark Pillow has been found. Of course, because I don’t mess with Facebook I never thought to look for him there, but lo and behold he still exists and I’m quite happy about it. Luckily for us (well, me), Mr. Pillow was unable to slip through the cracks.
Now watch him “fight” Superman all over the place.