Susan Tyrrell is one of the great scene stealers of American cinema. It doesn’t matter who she’s (supposedly) sharing the screen with, all eyes will be on Tyrrell. Susan Tyrrell possesses a unique charisma, let’s just say, and if I had to pick my favorite actress, I might have to say it’s her (maybe tied with Ruth Gordon). She’s great in Andy Warhol’s Bad, Big Top Pee-wee and Crybaby. Her role as Oma the sad barfly in John Huston’s Fat City saw her nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and who could forget her as tough as nails lesbian, Solly Mosler, the den-mother to a group of transvestite prostitutes in the Angel movies? No one plays a tough, psychotic bitch better than Tyrell and I mean no one.
But if you want to see Susan Tyrrell really cut loose and at her most, well, Susan Tyrrellish, you have to see her in her greatest role, as jealous Queen Mona in Richard Elfman’s cult classic, Forbidden Zone. Here she is in her berserk performance of “Witches Egg,” a song she also wrote (I always put this on mixed CDs):
Sadly due to a rare blood clotting disease,Tyrrell had to have both of her legs amputated. She’s still acting, playing a fortune teller in Bob Dylan and Larry Charles’ surreal Armed and Dangerous and producing amusing primitivist paintings which you can see on her official website.
My So-Called Rotten Life by Paul Cullum