There’s a story the great actor Harrison Ford tells of one of his first films called Dead Heat On a Merry-Go-Round from 1966, where he played the part of a bellboy. In his all but one minute of screen time he gave us a performance that rattled a studio executive so much, he had to vent his spleen on the actor. Harrison recounts it below:
“He called me into his office and said, ‘I want to tell you a story, kid.’ Kid, he always called me kid. He was about 15 minutes older that I was,” Ford began. “He said, ‘First time Tony Curtis was ever in a movie … he delivered a bag of groceries, a bag of groceries, kid. And you took one look at that guy, and you knew that was a movie star.'”
Ford fired back: “Well I thought that was supposed to be a delivery boy!”
Ford was fired, he said.
SOURCE: THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
The reason I recount this story is because like Harrison Ford, Bill Sadler has that everyman ability to play exactly what he’s been hired to play. In this case in this film Bill plays a car salesman named Don who tries to sell to film star Jim Belushi. Instead of playing something bigger Bill plays a car salesman. His ability to become whatever he’s asked is so fluid. Bill is a car salesman and not trying to be anything else in that moment but that. It proves what an actor Bill is because later that year he became The Grim Reaper/Death in BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY, then a few years later a terrorist in Col. Stuart in DIE HARD 2. That’s Bill Sadler. Whatever is asked of him, he brings it.