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The Golden God: Why Glenn Howerton Finally Deserves Award Recognition

4 min read

is a finisher actor! A performer of gods! The golden god! He is untethered and his talents know no bounds! 

Unfortunately, that's an uncommon view of the American actor and filmmaker. Best known as the hilariously psychotic Dennis Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Howerton is beloved on the internet and amongst fans of the long-running show for his masterful blend of comedy and drama that often skews into captivatingly unhinged performances. Shockingly then, he has somehow only amassed a single award, and a paltry two nominations, for his work across his entire career. With Howerton's incredible performance as terrifying corporate shark Jim Balsillie in the biographical comedy-drama BlackBerry, it's time for awarding bodies to finally recognise him as a serious talent, and for filmmakers to offer him more compelling roles. 

Whilst his role in should be claiming nominations and when the season properly kicks off soon, it's criminal that Howerton hasn't garnered anything for his role in It's Always Sunny. Of course, comedy is often overlooked by critics and awarding bodies, but even in comedy categories the show has often been ignored. Currently it has three Primetime Emmy Awards; all for Stunt Coordination for a Comedy. Even within the It's Always Sunny community, fans always quote Dennis' hilariously narcissistic, unexpected, and straight up unnerving lines, but never give Howerton proper credit for delivering one of the best 21st century performances.

So much of it lies within the range of Howerton's vocal and physical prowess as an actor. Most of his memorable scenes as Dennis are due to how quickly he changes his mood, pitch and body language in a single moment. Dennis by nature is an extremely insecure man, with that insecurity boiling to the surface with his trademark high pitched shrieks and rage-fuelled exclamations. That insecurity generally manifests as narcissism and extreme egoism, which Howerton evidently throws himself first into when it comes to playing Dennis. 

Dennis's faux-intellect isn't just convincing to the St Paddy's gang, but to the audience too, thanks to an effortlessly cool and collected charm. Providing big laughs is how that can quickly unravel into genuinely unnerving remarks that question how dangerous he might actually be (“because of the implication”), or unravels into childish tantrums. There is the genius behind Howerton's performance here: we absolutely sincerely believe how Dennis can fool other people, how he is also a giant man-baby, and how he is a psychotic murderer if that was ever true. It's mostly in his expressive face, which contorts and morphs in an instant to throw audiences off whilst making them laugh. Which leads us to his turn in BlackBerry

National Amusements & Piece of Magic Entertainment

It's easy to see why director and star cast Howerton as the savage businessman. His portrayal of Balsillie steals the show with cutthroat barks and one-liners, and that killer stare shared with Dennis Reynolds. That alone would have been enough, but there's a more human, more relatable undercurrent that elevates Howerton's performance. A pivotal scene sees 's Mike Lazaridis coming into his own in a boardroom meeting, and after constant abuse towards the BlackBerry creator Balsillie changes face and is impressed by his resolve. Of course, Balsillie wouldn't express that to Lazaridis directly, but for a brief moment there's a possible thought of respect towards him.

As things inevitably go wrong for Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry, Balsillie makes increasingly dangerous decisions with confidence, but not without Howerton showing fleeting glimpses of defeat and desperation thanks to that emotive face of his. This investor and co-CEO isn't the invincible know-it-all, which he doesn't just attempt to hide from the other white-collared players but also from the audience too. The mockumentary-style direction and editing only further emphasises the brash nature of Balsillie and the powerfully authoritative demands he screams out without warning. Balsillie could well have been a simple typecast role for Howerton after It's Always Sunny, but he digs deeper and in turn delivers one of the best performances of the year.  

There's an argument to be made about whether awards actually mean anything, which in the grand scheme of things they don't. But giving Howerton award recognition would hopefully encourage filmmakers and producers to give him more juicy roles to feast on. Outside of It's Always Sunny and BlackBerry, he's had a memorable stint in Fargo but no other project has really given Howerton the quality script and character to dive into and make a memorable role out of. It's time the Golden God got his due credit, but at the very least he deserves more well-written projects to make something special out of.

BlackBerry is out now in UK cinemas.