Ryan O’Neal, the actor whose face hurt because he was so handsome, dies


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The unforgettable protagonist of ‘Love Story’, ‘What’s wrong with me doctor?’, ‘Paper Moon’ and ‘Barry Lyndon’ was a man as harmless on screen as he was conflictive off it.

American actor Ryan O’Neal dies at 82

It is probably true that it is not a good idea to let reality spoil a beautiful story. The one of Ryan O’Neal It is the most beautiful of stories literally massacred by three of her four children, due to her publicized and stormy relationship with Farrah Fawcett and for everything that adorns what over time has come to be described as toxicity, or, in another way, as toxic masculinity in the manual of new and necessarily awakened times. Already his son Patrick (the only one he had problems with, the only one he didn’t slap, shoot or do drugs with) warned in the recent note about the death of his father at the age of 82 after he was diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and cancer. prostate in 2012 that he wouldn’t let anyone (least of all us) say anything bad about him. And so it will be, although it is not advisable to deceive ourselves: the “passionate relationship” of the usual obituaries was, no matter what we say, abuse.

From the spectator’s seat, there are basically four reasons to remember Ryan O’Neal. And even adore him. The four of them are huge, admit it, but very close to each other. Both in ‘Love story’ (Arthur Hill, 1970) like in ‘What’s wrong doctor?’ (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972) , ‘Paper Moon’ (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)and ‘Barry Lyndon’ (Stanley Kubrick, 1975), his essential works, the virtue of his interpretation rests on the perplexity that accompanies a helpless guy, presumably defenseless and, most clearly, disproportionately handsome. In the first, his great rise to fame, he plays the rich student (to say the least) at a paying university who falls in love with the poor girl. him, Ali MacGraw and Robert Evans, the Paramount producer and then real-life husband of the latter, managed not only to popularize to the point of nausea the phrase that “love is never saying sorry” but, in his own way, a new type of gal was patented. . That is, handsome.

Among the handsome ones with a hint of ugly like Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino or Jon Voightand the handsome ones with a touch of intense and damned like Robert Redford, Warren Beatty or Paul Newman, O’Neal surprised with her angelic and slightly feminized beauty. Without a single wrinkle, without anything that consoled the rest of the men. He, in some way, anticipated the new masculinity. The tough one, the one who doesn’t give up until death from cancer, was her. He, on the other hand, was a bag of child insecurities quite incapable of understanding that this, all of this, is about something else. O’Neal was a heartbreakingly handsome guy, with no qualms, who, more than passion, aroused envy among women. The scene remains for the annals with Jacqueline Bisset in ‘The Thief Who Came to Dinner’ (Walter Hill, 1973) in which she reproaches him and makes him ugly for trying to eclipse her with his mere presence. Too handsome to be good, he tells her.

‘Love story’ came as a gift to a career that couldn’t find its place. Neither ‘The Perverse’ (Alex March, 1969) nor the unfairly disparaged ‘The Test of Courage’ (Michael Winner, 1970) They announced nothing more than a beautiful, always beautiful, failure. But Evans’ tape before Hill changed everything. After the remarkable ‘Two Men Against the West’ (Blake Edwards, 1971)Bogdanovich adopted him as the new incarnation ofand Cary Grant first next to Barbra Streisand as a musicologist with horn-rimmed glasses in ‘What’s wrong with me…’ and then as a scammer with his daughter tatum in ‘Paper Moon’. In both cases, what is important, again, is the contrast between delicacy, disorientation and clumsiness even in the face of the perfect ritual of an incredibly beautiful man. Comedy, furthermore, highlighted the contradiction or, at least, made it digestible.

When the cerebral arrived Stanley Kubrick for about the novel Thackeray compose, among other things, a detailed portrait of social barriers, O’Neal felt like estrangement in person. That’s what ‘Barry Lyndon’ was about, to visualize and make palpable the feeling of foreignness in a man who was necessarily declassed, alien to his time and even a stranger to himself. Stranger of himself, then. Not only the fact that he was the only American among Britons, he was also the man who could seem like the exact opposite of what he was like. Too handsome to be good.

And from here, the light went out. It would be a lie to say that O’Neal didn’t do anything more notable. ‘This is how Hollywood began’ (1976), Also with Peter Bogdanovich, he gave a vision of cinema within cinema in which O’Neal was already taking advantage of his status as a recognizable star in a mirror game of cinema within cinema. But neither ‘A Bridge Far Away’ (Richard Attenborough, 1977) neither ‘Driver’ (Walter Hill, 1978) much less the attempt to resurrect the old passion of ‘Love Story’ in ‘Oliver’s Story’ (John Korty, 1978) They went from being the confirmation (brilliant confirmation in some cases) of a career in decline.

And while, at the same time that the collective imagination retained him as an unfading angel, off-screen his daughter Tatum accused him in her memoirs of slapping her when it was she (not him) who received the Oscar for ‘Paper Moon’; your son Griffin witnessed, after a fight with him, how his father was arrested for possession of weapons, and his other son Redmond shared detention with his father for possession of narcotics. And at the same time, her ‘passionate’ relationship with Fawcett radiated in the tabloids at a rate in profound disharmony with a face that was always perfect. Nobody, yes, was ever more handsome than him. Until your face hurts.

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