Well, first of all, life is not always fair. We all – or, at least, most of us – have a great amount of talents, but this fact doesn’t mean people will recognize our potentialities or even the amazing results we are able to achieve. Everybody are busy with their own lives, and people doesn’t have the obligation of recognizing our capabilities. Unfortunately, this was the case for Craig Sheffer, that never managed to capture the attention of great studio executives, nor had someone willing to give him a major opportunity.
Craig Sheffer, unfortunately, from the beginning of his career, has fallen into a sordid loophole of very low budget movies, and was never able to break into the mainstream. He was buried into the blank space of B-movies, made for television films, and independent low budget flicks that nobody ever saw, and never managed to get out of this sordid limbo, like the vast majority of his work colleagues in the American movie industry.
In 1984, he starred in Voyage of the Rock Aliens, a rock musical movie, that Sheffer himself probably is willing to forget. In 1990, he achieved a moderate degree of notoriety after starring as the main character in the movie Nightbreed, an adaption of a literary work by British author Clive Barker, that also directed the film.
The only great big budget production of Sheffer’s career – on which he had a relevant role – was the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford. On this movie, Sheffer played real life character Norman Maclean, a celebrated American writer, whose eponymous literary narrative – published in the book A River Runs Through It and Other Stories – was the inspiration for the movie. On this film, Sheffer has worked with a then yet to become famous Brad Pitt, whose character was Paul Maclean, Norman Maclean’s brother. A then unknown Joseph Gordon-Levitt – which was also destined to become a notable actor – also appears, as a younger version of Norman Maclean.
My favorite Craig Sheffer movie was, undoubtedly, Hellraiser: Inferno, released in 2000. On it, Sheffer plays a bright, methodic and highly intelligent, but also deceitful, corrupt and immoral Denver police detective named Joseph Thorne. Another adaptation of a work by Clive Barker, I saw this movie several times – and in my opinion –, this was one of the most incredible films that I ever saw.
The plot concerns the discovery of a bizarre puzzle box by the main character, in a ritualistic crime scene investigation. After also discovering a finger, the detective finds himself on the trail of a deranged criminal mastermind, known only as the Engineer. Thorne then undertakes a massive investigation into the underworld, in an obsessed pursue to capture the Engineer, to stop his depraved, hostile and sadistic crime spree, but also seeking to do something good, in a desperate attempt to redeem himself for his evil deeds, as his troubled conscience begins to be a significant burden on him, a natural consequence for all his past malevolent deeds, contraventions and wrongdoings, like being a bad husband, an absent father for his little daughter, and an immorally indulgent police officer.
As he succeeds in his journey, he begins to find more and more fingers, only to suffer from macabre hallucinatory delusions, and then being forced to confront the fact that he is being tormented by an extraordinary and exceedingly hostile supernatural entity, which is later revealed to be Pinhead, played by actor Doug Bradley. The movie also stars Nicholas Turturro as Tony Nenonen, the police partner of Joseph Thorne, and James Remar as a psychiatrist who at first seems willing to help Thorne, but then reveals himself an ambiguous and dual character. For me, this was definitely the most intriguing and pervasive character Sheffer has ever played, and the most amazing film of his career.
Lucas is constantly rejected and humiliated by his father, who shows unconditional preference for his other son, Nathan, played by James Lafferty. Nathan is Lucas’ half-brother, but he also displays towards Lucas the same amount of despise his father does. By virtue of this troubled familial relationships, Keith always tries to support Lucas, offering him the kind and gentle support his father never wanted to show him. Keith also had a crush on Karen, Lucas’ mother, played by Moira Kelly, but his love was never reciprocated.
Throughout the years, the relationships of the characters severely changed. Lucas and Nathan eventually became best friends – bonded not only by their consanguineous connection, by also by their mutual love of college basketball – and Nathan eventually married Hailey, Lucas’ best friend, played by actress Bethany Joy Lenz. Eventually, Lucas also reconciled with his father, and the two became close.
The series was a very emotional and beautiful one. Although I was never an ardent enthusiast, it was a very good show, and I watched several episodes along the years, when was broadcast by Fox Television Network, here in my country.
Sheffer was a regular on the series throughout the seasons from 2003 to 2007, and then was removed from the show, when his character was killed. He made special guest appearances in the 2012 season.
Another films of his career that may be interesting to mention was 1999 Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying, 2000 Without Malice, on which he co-starred with the late Corey Haim, and 2004 Berseker, on which he co-starred with his One Three Hill colleague Paul Johansson. In 2008, he had a very small role as Kenneth, the cruel and abusive husband of Della Myers – Kim Basinger’s character – in the thriller While She Was Out.
In 2012, he starred in the movie The Mark, alongside Eric Roberts. He reprised the role in a sequel, 2013 The Mark 2: Redemption. His last work to date was 2016 Code of Honor, on which he shared the screen with action film star Steven Segal.
Throughout his career, Sheffer has worked with several notable actors and actresses that already were – or would become later – famous, while his talent, on the contrary, was never properly appreciated nor recognized in the movie and television industries. Like I wrote above, he managed to have a stable career, but he never achieved the level of fame and recognition he certainly deserved, that would be satisfactorily proportional to his talent, dedication and creativity.
The main reason behind this problem was the fact that rarely he was offered something relevant outside the zone of low budget B-movies or television films. When this was the case, it was usually small roles. Never able to break outside the marginal niche of work upon which he became confined, Sheffer remained doomed to take whatever roles were offered to him, never having the opportunity to display his marvelous acting skills in a wide, more elegant, sophisticated and consistent scale. Unfortunately, he remained relegated to works situated in the sidewalk corners of the industry, and thus, became permanently ignored by major studios executives.