You know his face. If you’ve ingested any pop culture media in the last 30 years, then you’ve likely been vaguely introduced to a hidden artistic Hollywood gem. Not a shape-shifter, but an inconspicuous talent who has always been smiling in plain sight. Taylor Negron is best known for his roles in The Last Boy Scout, Stuart Little, So Little Time and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but it’s equally possible that you’ve seen him in any number of other television and film appearances. He’s even been on mega-hits ER, Friends and Seinfeld.
I’ve had the great honor of working with Taylor on a sci-fi drama we did together called Alienated. It’s about a man who witnesses a UFO but battles with the decision to tell his wife, fearing she may either freak out or not believe him. Taylor plays their neighbor, a seemingly outer worldly spirit—possible friend, possible foe—to the husband, Nate, who finds him staring at the sky.
“Taylor passed away in early 2015 to cancer. I’d like to claim that when I heard the news I was terribly sad for him, his family and those that knew him best. But I wasn’t. I was selfishly sad on my own behalf. For I had had the briefest of encounters with this man’s spirit, that he left me craving for more…”
Brian Ackley, Writer/Director of ALIENATED
Taylor passed away in early 2015 to cancer. I’d like to claim that when I heard the news I was terribly sad for him, his family and those that knew him best. But I wasn’t. I was selfishly sad on my own behalf. For I had had the briefest of encounters with this man’s spirit, that he left me craving for more. More of his personality; more of his philosophy; more of his stories; more of his talent; just more. As people do, I had so proudly assumed that I would get plenty more. I would get to learn more about him as we did publicity for our film, perhaps schmooze it up with C-list celebrities at NY or LA screenings. I would get to know him better by exchanging emails and personal essays—I was surprised to learn that he was a writer, too. I would befriend him, no doubt, as future collaborations would arise; perhaps a play was in our future, if not another film.
My sadness was tied to my lasting impression of him, which, in a short period of time—two days—encapsulated so much of his personality: the vulnerable, the impassioned, the bitter, the brave, the comical and the spiritual. It was remarkable: The experience of meeting him and knowing him for only two days. It was otherworldly.
As time moves on, with or without us, I’ve taken time to learn more about Taylor on my own. Like me, if you’re a fan of the actor, if you’ve ever laughed at his brand of humor, then you might find these other aspects of his personality just as interesting, if not more. I formally invite you to explore with me.
I cannot say for sure, but I am fairly certain that I first discovered Taylor in a film called Nothing But Trouble. He shared the screen with comedy legends John Candy, Dan Akroyd and Chevy Chase in a wildly implausible, sometimes grotesque, silly, surreal slapstick. Taylor more than holds his own in his scenes, even as Chevy and Akroyd ham it up. It’s a film worth seeing at least once. Demi Moore proves she has some comedy chops, too.
Angels in the Outfield is an example of a movie that sparkles with the slightest glimpse of a scene with Taylor. In no way related to the plot, his scene has everything to do with maintaining the innocent, lighthearted spirit of the film, and Taylor plays the perfect pawn, unrecognizable until you learn to look for his face. Taylor’s made a career of hiding in these genuine, peripheral roles. His ability to blend into a scene—into a film—is the exact purpose of an actor. An actor’s role is not to stand out, but to inhabit a world in which an audience can get lost. Taylor, somehow, did this refreshingly, meaning he managed to blend in and be interesting at the same time.
For more of Taylor’s comic work in films, check out Easy Money, where he plays a doofus son-in-law to Rodney Dangerfield, and his turn as a stand-up comic in Punchline (drawn from experience as a stand-up comic).
Speaking of stand-up, Taylor starred in his own HBO comedy special.
Taylor was an exhibitionist, and a philanderer…of words. He used words provocatively, most poignantly in the written form. He seemed to have used everything provocatively, but his words were just so much better at conveying his consciousness. His most celebrated works are personal essays. They are somehow equally honest and embellishing, often humorous, and sometimes bitter. They resonate, I believe, because they are real. Like his acting, Taylor’s words are fiercely in the moment, even while they’re describing the far-away past.
Visit his website at TaylorNegron.com to find examples of these fine getaways.
Taylor was a playwright. He wrote mostly what he knew, even in this form, but he also apparently had a great depth of classical and philosophical work. His monologue Satellites: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron has influences of Nietzsche according to The Scotsman’s Kate Copsitck. His other plays include Gangster Planet, about the 1992 LA riots, Downward Facing Bitch, Headstand, and Remade As Fiction.
Taylor also directed a play called, “Who Loves You, Baby.”
Interestingly, at some point a screenplay of his entitled “Skip” was in development. Perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll find his words take new form.
You can see it in his performance: Taylor loved to share his stories. If you watch him retell an event, you experience him relive it. He lends his entire being to his performances, certainly his expressiveness and carefully guided inflection, but under it all, his soul. And his stories are filled with acute moments, never abstract or opaque; but specific and authentic. His stories bring life to the people in them and fresh perspective to the circumstances they surrender to. You can find some of these stories on Youtube.
On a sliding scale moving toward the philosophical, Taylor once delivered an inspirational Ted Talk where, partly through storytelling, he shared his spiritual views on muses and becoming one’s own version of unique. It’s a great way to visit the inner workings of his magical mind.
Taylor identified himself as a painter as much as he did a comic actor, writer and storyteller. His artwork had been featured in solo exhibitions at venues such as Los Angeles’ Laemmle Royal Theater and the Hotel de Ville Lifestyle. Many of his works are self-portraits, because so many of his subjects had found sitting to be challenging. “Painting helps me see what is real…” Taylor explains in a video created to introduce one of his shows. “…The extraordinary ordinariness that goes beyond boredom.”
Taylor Negron has been awarded 3 Best Supporting Actor festival awards for his role as Griffin in Brian Ackley’s sci-fi drama ALIENATED. The film was picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures and is now in select theaters and on VOD.