Eat Lead Slackers!
James Tolkan , famous for his role as the nasty principal Strickland in the Back To The Future movies, joined the happy DeLorean owners for DCS 2006 in Chicago. Hilarious as can be, he started off the celebration by climbing up on stage and telling us that he saw a bunch of slackers driving Corvettes outside. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
Afterwards I ran over to his table so that I could meet this awesome guy and have my picture taken with him. When we learned he was about to celebrate his 75th birthday on June 20th, I realized just how long it has been since Mr. Strickland made that first impression on me back in 1985. Wow, what a mean dude.
You might remember how mean Mr. Strickland was, yelling at Marty "You've got a real attitude problem McFly, you're a SLACKER!" With Marty's sarcastic reply, the nasty Mr. Strickland leaned in closer. "...No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley!"
This made such a strong impression on me as a 10-year-old kid named Marty. Strickland was so mean, and so great! The anger was so real you could taste it. What is it about the mean dudes that we just love?
But it has to be the second instalment of the Back To The Future franchise in which James uttered his best, and possibly most memorable line. In the alternate future 1985, Hill Valley is ruined and overrun by greasy punks. Strapped with ammo, the Ramboesque Strickland returns fire on his machine-gun toting assailants in style, shouting "EAT LEAD SLACKERS!"
I've always felt a strange connection to the Back To The Future movies, and therefore the actors involved too. I was dying to ask Mr. Tolkan to poke me in the chest and call me a slacker. With the name Marty, it just seemed so right. But I couldn't build up the courage to do it, even when, during dinner, he came by our table, patted me on the back and asked how I was doing.
When Suz and I told James we were from frosty old Canada, he seemed a bit surprised, as nearly everyone present was American. He told us about all the Canadian cities he has filmed in, and how much he liked our country. What a nice thing to say, for a nasty, evil principal!
He has also had roles in many other famous movies like Top Gun and The Amityville Horror, as well as 'Commander Cyrus Quinn' in one of my most favourite, most underrated, short-lived TV series ever: Nowhere Man. If you think James Tolkan rules, check out his long career. I put an easy link there for all you slackers who can't be bothered to look stuff up on your own.