You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be delighted for Jesse Plemons and his recent spate of professional/personal successes.
The tawny-haired Texan—who possesses a unique ability to convey both warm, slightly wounded vulnerability and utterly dead-eyed psychopathy, often in the same role—has gone from being known as “that sweet guy in Friday Night Lights” and “that terrifying guy in Breaking Bad” to Jesse Plemons: Oscar-Nominated Character Actor Who Is Married to Kirsten Dunst and Seems Like a Genuinely Nice Fella.
The last five years have been something of a whirlwind for Plemons (who has been working steadily in the industry since he was 8 years old). He was directed by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Adam McKay, Charlie Kaufman, and Jane Campion. He got hitched to, and had a couple of kids with his Fargo co-star Dunst. He played a mustache-twirling Disney villain in Jungle Cruise. And, on March 27, he may well bag himself an Academy Award.
Yes, I predict that it won’t be long before the man they once called “Meth Damon” is as recognizable and celebrated as the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman (whose son, you may recall, Plemons played in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master). Before that happens, however, I feel like it’s important for us to take a moment to celebrate what I’m calling his “vaguely sinister weirdo” performances—the insidiously oddball turns that brought him to this point.
Here are five of my personal favorites:
Plemons as Todd Alquist, seen here subtly flirting with his boss, in Breaking Bad
Plemons as Callister Inc. CTO/USS Callister Captain Robert Daly, seen here enjoying a video game, in Black Mirror
Plemons as Officer Gary Kingsbury, seen here shooting the breeze with his neighbors, in Game Night
Plemons as Kevin Weeks, seen here answering a question about a fish, in The Irishman
Plemons as Jake, seen here singing “Lonely Room” from Oklahoma! after receiving the Nobel Prize, in I’m Thinking of Ending Things