Today marks the 88th Birthday of Roy Richard Scheider, known to many as the Police Chief from Jaws, to movie buffs as a leading icon of 1970’s cinema, to fans as one of the most underrated actors of all time, and to his grandkids as simply ‘Grandpa Big Fish’.
To describe Scheider as an ‘urban everyman’ would be to grossly understate the range of the twice Oscar-Nominated performer. Was he a vulnerble, relatable leading man that audiences rooted for? Undoubtedly. Was he also a versatile actor just as capable of headlining a musical as he was in the shoes of a thinking man’s action hero? Definately. Yet many believe that he failed to live up to his full potential despite leaving behind a vast body of work and countless box-office receipts.
For anybody interested in Scheider’s life & career I can personally recommend Diane C. Kachmar’s definitive volume Roy Scheider, A Film Biography but to chronicle the story of the only TV series he made in his career, the seaQuest VAULT picks up his story around 1992 with the super-rare piece taken from the UK edition of Hello magazine shown above.
By all accounts during the early ’90’s Scheider’s star appeared to have dwindled. Despite a filmography peppered with commercial and cult hits alike, Scheider entered the new decade tentatively, with suppporting roles in such fare as ‘The Russia House’ and ‘The Naked Lunch’ as his personal life had apparently taken precedent.
To date, Scheider had always maintained a balance between mainstream and modestly budgeted projects based on what had interested him. In 1992 he had just finished shooting four-part mini-series ‘Wild Justice’ based on the novel by Wilbur Smith, an international production shot on location in the UK and starring Scheider in a role as close to James Bond as he would ever get. Response to Wild Justice was indifferent and it would eventually be re-cut and released as ‘Covert Assassin’, a straight-to-video quickie that would sadly foreshadow much of Scheider’s later work.
By his own admission more mature, wiser and slower, Scheider was in a better place than he had ever been by the time he was contacted by his old friend Steven Spielberg. Finally heeding his call for a bigger boat it seemed like he was on course to Captain one all his own in a TV show with the working title Deep Space…