Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

From 'Alien' to 'Twin Peaks' – our picks for the late character actor's greatest onscreen moments

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'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988)

Martin Scorsese stocked his passion play with some unusual, notably earthy choices (a red-headed Harvey Keitel as Judas? Lounge Lizards saxophonist John Lurie as the apostle James?), but his decision to cast Stanton as St. Paul now seems like divine intervention. "I gambled, I whored, I drank ... persecuted, tortured, and mur-dered!" he tells a crowd gathered around him, the disciple becoming the original fire-and-brimstone preacher. The way Stanton extends the pronunciation of that last word sounds almost vaudevillian, but the man is a true believer – and the actor makes you believe this sinner has both transgressed and found peace in the message of this new messiah. When Jesus refuses to admit that he did in fact die and was resurrected, Paul tells him that people need to view Christ as a symbol of eternal rebirth and hope. He calmly, almost mournfully explains the definition of faith in a scant minute and a half. DF

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