For the fictional story of an English town devastated by a shooting spree, the UK series Southcliffe, now on SBS On Demand, came up trumps with casting. For its mass murderer they cast Sean Harris, whose face may be more familiar to you than his name. If not, let us jog your memory with these fine performances, where he always managed to steal the show. With creepiness.
He first got hostile in 24 Hour Party People
It wasn’t his first role, but Harris gave Joy Division’s Ian Curtis exactly the right level of sneering disaffection and outsider hostility. “I hate Bowie!” he spat at Tony Wilson. “In All the Young Dudes he sings about how you should die when you’re 25. Do you know how old he is? He’s 30, 29, something. He’s a liar.”
He dabbled with demons in Deliver Us from Evil
He got seedy in Harry Brown
You want a baddie who needs a bath? Harris can do that. As Stretch, the enabler of and victim to Michael Caine’s vigilante, he embodied all that’s monstrous and grotesque in the UK underworld. Stretch was a degenerate drug dealer and gun seller whose treatment of his girlfriend pushed Harry Brown one step too far. As if that smile wasn’t enough.
He went full mutant in Prometheus
To be fair, this one isn’t entirely his fault. Harris wasn’t very creepy as astro-geologist Fifield – until he came into contact with that mysterious black goo. Next minute, he’s a hideously deformed mutant with nothing on his mind but slaughter and bending his body in ways that’d make a gymnast blush. You’ll never want to check your oil again.
He became an evil mastermind in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
With a face born for villainy, Harris came into his own in this action-thriller, where he played unpredictable genius Solomon Lane. This time he didn’t need make-up to convey the inherent malice of his character, who led an international syndicate of former government agents gone rogue in pursuit of a new world order, reshaping the world through terrorist acts. Ew.
He was a ruthless killer in The Borgias
Everyone in this series was pretty horrible, to be fair, but master assassin Micheletto Corella has got to be one of the fouler creatures to walk 15/16th-century Italy. Hired by Cesare Borgia from the series opener onwards to murder anyone who got in the way of his family maintaining power, Corella put Harris’s inherent creepiness into a historical context.
Southcliffe is available on SBS On Demand. Watch the first episode right here: