By John H. Foote
The stories of the epic temper tantrums of former hairdresser, lover to Barbra Streisand and movie mogul Jon Peters are the stuff of legend, and witnesses attest, absolutely true. Peters had a ferocious, volatile, hair trigger temper that could be unleashed at any given time though he was called on it more than once by some equally hot headed movie stars, Jack Nicholson among them, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, each explosive when pushed, and famously, Kris Kristofferson, who locked horns with Peters during the making of A Star is Born (1976). He and Kristofferson nearly came to blows on set more than once with Streisand climbing between them to avoid a fist fight. I give Peters this, he was fearless.
When I learned that parts of Licorice Pizza would involve Jon Peters in the seventies I was thrilled because I believe there is a great story there, still untold.
Bradley Cooper might have 10 minutes of screen time as Peters, but he gives the film such a savage jolt of electricity you never forget him and he leaves you wanting more. It is a high wire act of a performance, a wickedly funny turn as a man who felt entitled to get what he wanted because of who he was dating and his growing stature in the business. The intensity with which he portrays Peters is alarming because it must have been hell for the man to keep it up for each take. He seems to start at 10 and has no where to go, but oddly goes there anyways. His body is taut and tight, every movement seems planned with great purpose and when he speaks, he does so with great conviction as though his words were all important. When explaining who he dates, it is more important that the person get the precise sound of her name correct. If not, they repeat it until they do. He captures all the stories about Peters’ rage to perfection, and vividly brings the man to life.
So how was he not nominated for Best Supporting Actor? Who knows? For the same reason he was snubbed as Best Director for A Star is Born (2018) even though the Directors Guild of America saw fit to nominated him among their final five.
He deserved to be there this year for his performance, and it is shameful that he is not.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.