Don Cheadle as Buck in Boogie Nights

This post is for LAMB Acting School 101-Don Cheadle. The purpose was to write about Don Cheadle. I am definitely a fan of his. I do kind of feel like he’s so good that he’s one of those actors that we take for granted though. “Oh, Cheadle’s in this? He’ll be good in it (even if the movie isn’t). However he’s more of a dramatic actor and I am the chick who rewatches cheesy movies all the time so though I’ve seen a good deal of his work it was often only once. This means that I don’t feel qualified to make a best of list or something to that effect.

Instead I’ll talk about Don Cheadle in the first film that I took notice of him in and that is still my favorite, Boogie Nights. In Boogie Nights Cheadle plays porn star Buck Swope. Buck is a sweet, kind of naive guy. I feel like most of the characters in the business in this film are outcasts in other parts of their lives but really shine in porn.

Buck is also stereo salesman. He’d probably be an even better salesman if it weren’t for the fact that he loves country music.

“So long pardner”

His boss doesn’t dig this. He wants him to be the cool brother who’s down with the hip music. But Buck is not hip.

“The cowboy look ended about 6 years ago” “It’s coming back though”

Buck often works with Becky Barnett but he’s not really keen on her fashion/image advice.

“But doesn’t it make you nervous when you’re dealing with all of those evil forces?”

Buck does create a gimmicky image for himself but it’s not fulfilling…and it’s itchy.

“I love sunsets” “but sunrises are better”

Luckily he meets the delightful Jessie St. Vincent.

“Will you quit saying pornography?!”

Later Buck and Jessie try to start their own stereo business by getting a loan but are brutally rebuffed. Before he was hounded for not being black enough. Now he is vilified for being involved in the adult industry, even though this business wouldn’t be at all connected to it. Buck’s naivety really shows in this scene when he even says “You’re not being fair, this isn’t fair”. As we all eventually learn life isn’t fair. There are many times when it won’t matter if you’ve followed the rules because others often don’t. Plus perception is often more powerful than reality.

Buck happens to be in a donut shop when a robbery takes place. Everyone else ends up dead. In the past maybe a young Buck would have waited for the police (possibly been blamed) and they would have confiscated the cash. But not this time, he grabs the bag and leaves.

“come inside us”

Buck now has some dough and opens his dream business. With the help of his friends he shoots a commercial that only subtly references his past. Now he’s learned how to capitalize on acting like someone else to draw business. Hopefully he’s still himself on a regular basis though.

Screencaps are clickable to larger versions.

Don’t forget to check out all of the other posts on Don Cheadle from fellow LAMBS by going here.

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5 thoughts on “Don Cheadle as Buck in Boogie Nights

  1. Fantastic. This is my favorite Cheadle performance because of how much of a nice guy he is. What’s wrong with a brother liking country music? Especially good country music? And brothers not playing cowboys is cool? Obviously, they haven’t seen Blazing Saddles.

    I just love the fact that he’s a guy that just wants to be himself but also try and do things right.

  2. I too love Don Cheadle in this movie. His character is so sweet and endearing. He comes across as really innocent and honest. This movie really humanizes what is probably a very misunderstood bunch.

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