From Zeus to President of the Planet: Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister

Tom Jolliffe on the profession and legacy of the late, nice Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister…

Some actors are simply bigger than life. There’s a presence and charisma that pulls your eyes upon them. The world misplaced one other nice icon of display screen (and extra) with the premature passing of Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister. His profession spanned 35 years, encompassing an enormous quantity of appearances in cult and acclaimed movies, and he was by no means lower than memorable.


My first introduction to Lister was throughout his stint within the WWF (now WWE) as Zeus. His infamous feud with Hulk Hogan spanned six months, however longer in my VHS assortment, with repeated viewings of Survivor Collection 89 specifically. That each one spawned from the previous movie No Holds Barred (with Hogan taking part in a riff on his WWF persona, and Lister as ‘Zeus’). Clearly one thing of a advertising pitch, however regardless, if you’re 9 years previous and wrestling is enthralling, Zeus actually did appear invincible. That was the hook, that he appeared nearly impervious to his opponents strikes, till that second he may very well be worn down one way or the other (that quirk later refined and immortalised by somebody like The Undertaker). His uncontrollable aggression could be his undoing in Survivor Collection, disqualified within the midst of brutalising Hulk Hogan, after which attacking the referee. To the 9 yr previous me, that disqualification was all that stood between Zeus and a demolished Hogan.

By the point he’d began in wrestling, he’d already begun his appearing profession in earnest (a primary large display screen function with an awesome scene in Runaway Practice). One thing I’d uncover later on reflection. It will truly be to my (nice) shock in watching movies like Males of Battle after which The Fifth Component (across the similar time) that Zeus appeared in movies. Males of Battle I nonetheless quote to at the present time, notably strains from a few the villains, which counted Lister amongst them. I’d all the time discovered it amusing, throughout this swap of allegiance from good to unhealthy a departing second between Lister’s character, and a personality performed by Tom Wright. As Lister departs to affix with the enemy (previous to a finale loaded with motion) he bellows out a remaining insult to Wright (in that inimitable Lister supply); ‘Bald head!’ The irony being that, as his very long time picture would preserve, Lister additionally had a shaved head.


The 90’s had been an awesome period for Lister roles. He was prolific in movies like Trespass, Gang Associated, Common Soldier, Posse and Issues to Do in Denver When You’re Useless. At all times memorable. Amongst a number of legendary administrators he’s labored with in his profession (together with Chris Nolan and Luc Besson), Lister additionally acquired himself a memorable function in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. The identical yr he was President of the planet in The Fifth Component. An important performer pleased to play as much as his physique and picture, and all the time with the flexibility to make his characters plausible and stand out. In 1995 he had what would possibly nonetheless be his most enduring function to many, that of Debo in Friday. Lister wasn’t afraid to ship up his picture in comedy (he’s been in a slew of comedies, and is all the time nice). The picture of Lister patrolling his neighbourhood with menace on his bicycle was inherently comical, and it’s turn into iconic, together with so a lot of his moments within the movie (and the primary sequel). Debo on his bicycle is an oft used meme.

Lister has remained prolific in an eclectic vary of movies. Even in these movies that aren’t maybe the very best, his presence is commonly a welcome component that salvages these scenes he seems in. He had that capacity to play as much as his intense picture, crank up the menace, or have enjoyable with it. Moreover, there was all the time that present to indicate an enigmatic facet, which was properly utilised in his temporary however memorable function in The Darkish Knight because the inmate who takes the ‘alternative’ for self preservation away from the ship stuffed with Arkham Asylum prisoners. After all regardless of dooming his boat to probably unescapable demise, nobody argues, as a result of hey, it’s frigging Zeus.


I used to be so lucky and privileged to have the ability to write a personality particularly for Lister within the upcoming movie Renegades. Firstly I’m a fan, so the flexibility to put in writing for such an icon allowed me to attract on my lengthy standing viewing historical past of his work, proper from the WWF, by to numerous movies spanning nearly each style. It’ll be bittersweet when the movie is lastly launched, notably because it by no means felt like a closed e book for his character. It was a primary for me, and sadly a final, however cinema typically is poorer for shedding Tiny Lister. So many standout roles, and so icon intimidating for a person, many who’ve labored with him, typically described as a delicate large. He might be drastically missed.

Tom Jolliffe is an award successful screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has plenty of movies out on DVD/VOD all over the world and a number of other releases due out in 2021, together with, Renegades (Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Ian Ogilvy and Billy Murray), Crackdown, When Darkness Falls and Battle of The Worlds: The Assault (Vincent Regan). Discover extra information at the very best private website you’ll ever see…


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