Tribute: William Atherton

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m on 11/08/09.

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

Welcome readers to the very first Sorry I’m Tribute. The tribute section was intended to pay some respect to actors, filmmakers and characters that – from my perspective – don’t really get the attention they deserve. With that, let us begin the inaugural edition of the Sorry I’m Late Tribute!

William Atherton

William Atherton is the epitome of the corporate 80’s douche, based on his two most well remembered roles of EPA agent Walter Peck from Ghostbusters and arrogant reporter Richard ‘Dick’ Thornberg from the first two Die Hard films.

A quintessential working actor, Atherton was had steady work for over thirty-five years – mainly making appearances in television series’ such as Desperate HousewivesLaw & Order and the 80’s version of The Twilight Zone, as well as the late 70’s ensemble mini-series Centennial.

What a Peck!

But he made his name as the snarky Peck from 1984’s Ghostbusters. He had everything you would want to hate in an antagonist – he’s condescending, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, he wears a suit, he has a beard – what’s to like? Played so well, in fact, that we do not only dislike him – we LIKE to dislike him. The interactions between Peck and Bill Murray’s Venkman are legendary – Atherton’s straight-laced portrayal was a perfect comic foil to Murray’s comedy style.

“My most well-known characters have penis names!”

His other prominent character would be cocky reporter ‘Dick’ Thornberg, featuring in both Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder (extra points for being the most awesomely titled sequel EVER). Taking many similar narcissistic character traits, the audience loves seeing Thornberg get his just desserts from Holly McClane (Gennaro) at the end of the first film (and by just desserts I mean a nice fist in the jaw). Then we head to the sequel where Thornberg again feels the wrath of the female McClane – this time with a stun gun.

Although he never again reached the successes of those major roles, we are always bound to be pleasantly surprised when he inevitably shows up again on our screens and we all say, “Hey, it’s THAT guy! Awesome!”
William Atherton, for being the Corporate 80’s Douche, we salute you.

We Salute You!

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