Sneaky Pete: Giovanni Ribisi’s most expressive roles
Giovanni Ribisi has proved his versatility as an actor in a wide variety of roles over the years, everything from Ted, to The Rum Diary, to The Gift. But one thing that never changes is that tortured face of his. Whether he’s a new dad to triplets, or an obsessive, violent stalker, Ribisi’s face is a contorted mess of emotions.
The Bad Batch (2016): The Screamer
Set in a dystopian future, The Bad Batch tells an unlikely love story in a desert wasteland, where a muscled cannibal proves it’s never good to play with your food. Risibi’s character is a deranged hobo named “the Screamer”, providing plenty opportunity for him to spout crap from that contorted piehole.
Meadowland (2015): Tim
This heartwrenching drama is set in the hazy aftermath of an unimaginable loss, as Sarah (Olivia Wilde) and Phil (Luke Wilson) come unhinged after their son goes missing. Ribisi plays Tim, the crack addict brother of Phil who expresses great deals of sorrow via his facial muscles.
Ted (2012): Donny
Seth MacFarlane’s comedy hybrid is everything you’d expect from a film about a teddy bear come to life. It’s dumb, it’s childish, and it’s kinda LOL. In the movie, Ribisi plays Ted’s biggest fan / arch nemesis – an obsessive and violent stalker with some seriously killer dance movies.
The Rum Diary (2011): Moberg
Our 💖 Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I) directed this film based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson. Starring Johnny Depp (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Michael Rispoli (Kick-Ass), Amber Heard (Drive Angry), and Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), the narrative centers on American journalist Paul Kemp as he struggles to adjust to island life during a freelance job in Puerto Rico.
Ribisi’s character Moberg has destroyed his brain with drugs & alcohol to the point of becoming a social pariah. Needless to say, audiences are subjected to a tortured Ribisi at his most cray-cray.
My Name Is Earl (2005-2008): Ralph Mariano
Jason Lee absolutely nailed it with his transition from the likes of Mallrats to this endearing sitcom, starring as a ne’er-do-well who wins $100,000 in the lottery and decides to right all the wrongs from his past. Ribisi had a recurring role as Ralph – a former thieving partner of Earl’s – who attempts to clean up his act by getting a job at a lamp store (only to go back to his thieving ways when he doesn’t win the lottery like Earl.)
The Dog Problem (2006): Solo
Ribisi takes starring role as a depressed writer named Solo who spunked all of his first-book earnings on classical psychoanalysis. During the last session, his therapist suggests he buy a dog, only to find life gets even more complicated when the pet becomes the catalyst for change in his life. It’s a unique role and one that begs for the disturbed impulses of Ribisi.
Friends (1995-2003): Frank Buffay Jr.
It doesn’t matter whether he’s playing a happy chappy or a depressed lowlife – Ribisi always manages to transform the character into a troubled one. Case in point: his performance as Phoebe & Ursula Buffay’s half-brother. Frank Jr. has a punctured lung, was arrested for stealing bird eggs, likes to melt things, and later has triplets with his considerably older teacher girlfriend via surrogate Phoebe. Unfortunately for Frank, fatherhood is a lot harder than it looks.
I Love Your Work (2003): Gray Evans
Starring in another lead role, Ribisi plays fictional movie star Gray Evans as his marriage and mental health break down, while his increasing obsession with a young film student reminds Gray of his own life before becoming famous.
SubUrbia (1996): Jeff
Richard Linklater (Boyhood) glorifies teen angst in this 1996 flick about a group of young suburban burnouts who hang out in a convenience-store parking lot, as they try to support each other during the difficult task of making it through kidulthood. Of course, Ribisi played the role of aggro boozehound Jeff perfectly.
The Gift (2000): Buddy Cole
Okay, so Sam Raimi’s horror flick might seem a bit dated now, but at the time it was shit-a-brick terrifying. (That bit with the violin = 😱). Telling the story of a woman (Cate Blanchett) with extrasensory perception asked to help solve a young woman’s disappearance, Ribisi’s role as a man traumatized by an abusive childhood couldn’t have been more fitting.