Crispin Glover

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Crispin Glover
Glover in 2010
Crispin Hellion Glover

(1964-04-20) April 20, 1964 (age 59)
Years active1978–present

Crispin Hellion Glover (born April 20, 1964) is an American actor, filmmaker and artist. He is known for portraying eccentric character roles on screen. His breakout role was as George McFly in Back to the Future (1985), which he followed by playing Layne, one of the leading roles in River's Edge (1986). Through the 1990s, Glover garnered attention for portraying smaller but notable roles, including Cousin Del in Wild at Heart (1990), Andy Warhol in The Doors (1991), Bobby McBurney in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and the Train Fireman in Dead Man (1995).

Starting with his role as the Thin Man in Charlie's Angels (2000), he began to star in more mainstream films. The roles in these films include reprising his Thin Man role in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), portraying the titular character in Willard (2003), Grendel in Beowulf (2007), The Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Phil in Hot Tub Time Machine (2010). From 2017 to 2021 he starred as Mr. World in the Starz television series American Gods.

In the late 1980s, Glover started his company, Volcanic Eruptions, which publishes his books such as Rat Catching (1988) and also serves as the production company for the films he has directed, What Is It? (2005) and It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. (2007). These films have never received a traditional theatrical release; instead, Glover tours with the films, holding screenings in theatres around the world.[1]

Early life[edit]

Glover was born in New York City. He moved to Los Angeles with his family at the age of five.[2] He is the son of actor Bruce Glover and actress and dancer Marion Elizabeth Lillian "Betty" Krachey,[3] who retired upon his birth. He was named after the Saint Crispin's Day speech from William Shakespeare's play Henry V, which his parents enjoyed.[4] "Hellion", his real middle name, had earlier been used as a false middle name by his father, who did not like his own real Germanic middle name, Herbert.[4]

Glover's father is of English, Czech,[5] and Swedish descent, while his mother has Czech (area surrounding Milevsko)[6] and German ancestry.[7][8] As a child, Glover attended the Mirman School from first through ninth grades. He then attended both Venice High for 10th and 11th grades, and Beverly Hills High School for 12th grade; he graduated in 1982.



Glover at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Glover began acting professionally at the age of 13, his first role being Friedrich von Trapp in a theatre production of The Sound of Music at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Florence Henderson.[9] He appeared in several sitcoms as a teenager, including Happy Days and Family Ties. He appeared in a main role alongside Nicolas Cage in a television pilot titled The Best Of Times (1981) which aired on ABC, but was never picked up by the network. His first film role was in My Tutor (1983), which he subsequently followed with roles in Teachers and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (both 1984).[10] He then worked with director Trent Harris on the third chapter of the Beaver Trilogy, entitled The Orkly Kid (1985).

His breakout role was as George McFly in Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future (1985), an international box office success. His character was the father of Marty McFly, despite being three years younger than Michael J. Fox in real life. During filming, Glover vocalized his objections to the film's ending, believing it to be too capitalistic and materialistic in intent. Zemeckis ignored his complaints.[11] Due to these initial disagreements and a salary dispute, Glover did not return for either of the Back to the Future sequels and his role was taken over by Jeffrey Weissman.

After the success of Back to the Future, Glover sought to star in films that "questioned" the status quo and contained themes that aligned with his own interests. This pursuit led him to star as Layne in River's Edge (1986). Struggling to find any other films that reflected his own interests, Glover sought to work with film directors he admired. These include David Lynch on Wild at Heart (1990) and Hotel Room (1993), John Boorman on Where the Heart Is (1990), Dennis Hopper on Chasers (1994), and Miloš Forman on The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). He also became the first actor to portray Andy Warhol in a widely released film, Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991).

Beginning in the 2000s, Glover chose the funding of his own films as a filmmaker to be the primary factor in deciding what films he would act in. After this decision, Glover would feature more prominently in more mainstream films, starting with Charlie's Angels (2000), playing the role of The Thin Man, a role he would reprise in the 2003 sequel.[12] The character had initially been written as a speaking role, but Glover, noting that the lines as written were exposition, convinced the producers to eliminate the lines to create a precise image for the character. He would go on to portray the titular character in Willard (2003), his first time portraying the protagonist in a studio-funded film. Glover appeared in Beowulf (2007), as the creature Grendel, playing the part through performance capture technology. The film was his first collaboration with director Robert Zemeckis since the original Back to the Future. In 2010, Glover played Ilosovic Stayne/the Knave of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the one-armed bellhop Phil in Hot Tub Time Machine.

Glover portrayed his first series regular role on television as Mr. World in American Gods (2017–2021), while continuing to still act in films like We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018) and Roger Avery's Lucky Day (2019). He reunited with River's Edge director Tim Hunter on the Bret Easton Ellis-scripted slasher film Smiley Face Killers (2020), as the main antagonist. In 2022, he appeared in the Netflix horror anthology series Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities in the episode Pickman's Model (based on the H. P. Lovecraft work of the same name), as the title character.


Glover in 2008

Glover made his directorial debut with 2005's What Is It?, a surreal film featuring a cast of actors with Down syndrome. He considers it to be part of a trilogy he has dubbed the "It?" trilogy. It premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. With a budget of only $150,000, it took almost a decade to complete, and was originally intended to be a short film. Most of the primary footage was shot in 12 days, stretched over a two-and-a-half-year period.[13]

Glover's second film and second part of the "It?" trilogy, It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine., was written by Utah writer and actor Steven C. Stewart. Stewart was born with severe cerebral palsy and had been confined to a nursing home for about 10 years. The film is a fantastical psychosexual retelling of life from Stewart's point of view. Production was mostly funded by Glover's salary earned from Charlie's Angels and other films. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.[14]

Aside from select film festivals, Glover has not screened either film outside the confines of his live performances, which have taken place at theatres and venues around the world. The films have received accolades from associations such as the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Sitges Film Festival. In 2013, Glover was recognized for his directorial work when the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City staged the series It Is Crispin Hellion Glover. The program consisted of screenings of all of his directorial work, live performances, and speaking engagements.[15][16][17]

Glover has completed shooting his third feature film as a director, which he developed as a vehicle for his father Bruce Glover and himself to act together. He shot the film on his property in the Czech Republic. This film is not part three of the It? trilogy.

He lists Luis Buñuel, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Stanley Kubrick and Werner Herzog as influences on his filmmaking.[18] Glover was a co-interlocutor with Norm Hill and Werner Herzog for the special feature commentary for the DVD of Herzog's Even Dwarfs Started Small[19] and Fata Morgana, in which he spoke of their influence on What Is It?.[20]


Glover, himself, reports to have published between 15 and 20 books.[21] Oak-Mot, Rat Catching and other titles he has created are featured prominently during his live show presentation entitled Big Slide Show, where he reads aloud and performs sections of the books while visual art from the books are projected behind him.

He constructs the books by reusing old novels and other publications that have fallen into the public domain due to their age (for example, Rat Catching was constructed from an 1896 book Studies in the Art of Rat Catching, and Oak-Mot was constructed from an 1868 novel of the same title). He rearranges text, blacks out certain standing passages, and adds his own prose (and sometimes images) into the margins and elsewhere, thus creating an entirely new story. Six of his books have been published to be bought publicly so far, through his publishing company, Volcanic Eruptions. Other known titles include The Backward Swing and A New World.

  • Billow and the Rock (1983)[21]
  • Rat Catching (1988)
  • Oak-Mot (1989)
  • Concrete Inspection (1990)
  • What it is, and How it is Done (1992)
  • Round My House (2016)

* The publishing years listed above may not represent first-edition publication dates, but subsequent available editions.

He also wrote a short essay for Adam Parfrey's book Apocalypse Culture II in 2000. Sharing a title with his directional debut, "What Is It?", the essay is an overtly provocative questioning of the cooperate restraints on American contemporary media and society.[22]


In 1989, during a hiatus from films, Glover released an album titled The Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution, The Solution Equals Let It Be through Restless Records, produced by Barnes & Barnes. The album features original songs such as "Clowny Clown Clown", odd versions of Lee Hazlewood's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", and Charles Manson's "I'll Never Say Never to Always" (sung in falsetto), and readings from his art books Rat Catching and Oak Mot. Sample pages from these books are featured in the album's liner notes. He also directed a music video for "Clowny Clown Clown".

Glover recorded a version of the Michael Jackson song "Ben" to coincide with the release of his 2003 film Willard; the song had been written for the sequel to the original 1971 version of the film. In the music video for the song directed by Glover, he sings to a rat named Ben in front of a crowd of aroused women.

Several songs using Glover's name as the title have been recorded by various artists, including shoegaze/gothic rock band Scarling., Chicago outsider musician Wesley Willis, and a New Jersey-based band called Children in Adult Jails.

Personal life[edit]

Glover has residences in Los Angeles, New York City, and the Czech Republic. His residence Zámek Konárovice, 45 minutes east of Prague by train, is a 17th-century 20-acre (8.1 ha) chateau that is recognized as historically significant by the Czech government. The property requires constant upkeep and restoration; according to Glover, "[The property] is a lifetime project that will be in continuous flux and repair for hundreds of years from now, as it has been the hundreds of years before I 'owned' it."[23]

Glover is single, and has no children, citing his busy career as one of the reasons for which he feels unfit to be a father, as he feels that a father should be there for his children.[24] From 2001 to 2003, Glover dated Alexa Lauren, a Penthouse magazine 'Pet of the Month' for September 1999.[25][26]

Late Night appearance[edit]

Glover appeared on Late Night with David Letterman on July 28, 1987, to promote River's Edge.[27] To the surprise of Letterman and the audience, Glover appeared wearing platform shoes and a wig. During the interview, Glover behaved erratically and nearly kicked Letterman in the face, causing Letterman to walk off the set, to get the "Top-10 List" ready.[27][28] Four years later, the film Rubin & Ed premiered, in which Glover has a starring role as titular character Rubin Farr. After the release of Rubin & Ed, some speculated that Glover was acting in-character as Rubin Farr during his appearance on Late Night.[27][28][29][30] Glover has refused to go into detail about the reasons for his behavior on the show, other than to mention that he was flattered that fans are still speculating on the performance decades later.[31] The character Rubin Farr also appears in Glover's music entitled "Clowny Clown Clown" and in the song's videoclip.

Back to the Future Part II lawsuit[edit]

In Back to the Future Part II, Zemeckis reused brief footage of Glover that had been filmed for the first film. Glover was billed as "George McFly in footage from Back to the Future" in the closing credits. The older footage was combined with new footage of actor Jeffrey Weissman wearing a false chin, nose and cheekbones, and various obfuscating methods – in the background, wearing sunglasses, rear shot, upside down – to play George McFly. Because these methods suggested that Glover himself had performed for the film, he successfully sued the producers on the grounds that they had used his likeness without permission, as well as not having paid him for the reuse of the footage from the original film. The case was resolved outside of court and Glover was awarded a reported $760,000. As a result of the lawsuit, clauses in the Screen Actors Guild collective bargaining agreements now state that producers and actors are not allowed to use such methods to reproduce the likeness of other actors, effectively putting to an end the decades-long use of the Fake Shemp technique among living actors. Despite not setting a legal precedent, the lawsuit is often evoked in cases for actors involving the misuse of their likeness through digital recreation and other technological methods to replicate their appearance without their permission.[32][33]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 My Tutor Jack
1984 Racing with the Moon Gatsby Boy
1984 Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter Jimmy Mortimer
1984 Teachers Danny Reese
1985 The Orkly Kid Groovin' Larry Hoff Short film
1985 Back to the Future George McFly Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1986 At Close Range Lucas
1986 River's Edge Layne
1989 Twister Howard "Howdy" Cleveland
1990 Where the Heart Is Lionel
1990 Wild at Heart Cousin Dell
1991 Little Noises Joey Kremple
1991 The Doors Andy Warhol
1991 Rubin and Ed Rubin Farr
1991 30 Door Key Mientus
1993 Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Howard Barth
1993 What's Eating Gilbert Grape Bobby McBurney
1994 Chasers Howard Finster
1995 Dead Man Train Fireman
1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt Arlo
2000 Nurse Betty Roy Ostery
2000 Charlie's Angels Thin Man
2001 Bartleby Bartleby
2001 Fast Sofa Jules Langdon
2002 Crime and Punishment Rodion Raskolnikov
2002 Like Mike Stan Bittleman
2003 Willard Willard Stiles Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Actor
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Thin Man / Anthony [34]
2004 Incident at Loch Ness Party guest Cameo
2005 What Is It? Dueling Demi-God Auteur / The Young Man's Inner Psyche and Id Also director, writer, producer, editor, additional cinematography and music supervisor
Ann Arbor Film Festival Jury Award for Best Narrative Film
Sitges Film Festival Midnight X-Treme Award
Method Fest Film Festival Maverick Award
2005 Drop Dead Sexy Eddie
2006 Simon Says Simon / Stanley
2007 It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. Co-director with David Brothers, producer, co-editor and music supervisor
Sitges Film Festival Special Jury Mention New Visions Award
2007 Epic Movie Willy
2007 The Wizard of Gore Montag the Magnificent
2007 Beowulf Grendel Motion capture
2008 Open Season 2 Fifi Voice
2008 Freezer Burn: The Invasion of Laxdale Viergacht
2009 The Donner Party William Foster
2009 9 6 Voice
2010 Alice in Wonderland Ilosovic Stayne / The Knave of Hearts
2010 Hot Tub Time Machine Phil Wedmaier
2010 Mr. Nice Ernie Combs
2010 Open Season 3 Fifi Voice
2012 Freaky Deaky Woody Ricks
2014 The Bag Man Ned
2015 Hiszpanka Dr. Abuse
2015 Aimy in a Cage Claude Bohringer
2018 The Con is On Gabriel Anderson
2018 We Have Always Lived in the Castle Uncle Julian Blackwood
2019 Lucky Day Luc
2020 Smiley Face Killers Hooded Figure [35]
TBA Mr. K Mr. K Post-production[36]
TBA By the Rivers of Babylon William Post-production
TBA Untitled Crispin Hellion Glover Project Brutus Also director, writer, producer and editor; post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Best of Times Crispin Pilot
1982 The Facts of Life Cadet No. 1 Episode: "The Big Fight"
1983 The Kid with the 200 I.Q. New Student Television film
1983 High School U.S.A. Archie Feld Television film
1983 Happy Days Roach Episode: "Vocational Education"
1983 Hill Street Blues Space Cadet Episode: "Honk If You're a Goose"
1984 Family Ties Doug Episode: "Birthday Boy"
1984 High School U.S.A. Archie Feld Pilot
1993 Hotel Room Danny Episode: "Blackout"
2010 Funny or Die Presents Thomas Edison Segment: "Drunk History Vol. 6"
2015 Texas Rising Moseley Baker 5 episodes
2017–2021 American Gods Mr. World 12 episodes
2018 Saat des Terrors James Logan Davis Television film
2020 Red Bird Lane Jonah Unaired pilot
2022 Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities Richard Upton Pickman Episode: "Pickman's Model"

Music video[edit]

Year Song Artist Role Notes
1989 "Clowny Clown Clown" Crispin Glover Man / Rubin Farr Also director
2003 "Ben" Michael Jackson Willard Also director


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  36. ^ Dalton2023-04-24T09:00:00+01:00, Ben. "LevelK boards surrealistic drama 'Mr. K' as production wraps; unveils first look (exclusive)". Screen.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

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