Louis Gossett Jr: Five Great Roles

We celebrate Louis Gossett Jr’s legacy with a look at five of his best films for the eighties and nineties.

Earlier today, we were sad to hear that veteran character actor Louis Gossett Jr had passed away at 87. While we have to get used to the fact that our favorite actors are all human, and like all of us, eventually pass away, it can’t help but hurt anytime we lose a legend like this. But he leaves behind a rich legacy, so let’s look back at five of his coolest roles.

an officer and a gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman:

Louis Gossett Jr. won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this, and next to R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, he’s likely the guy everyone pictures when they think of a drill sergeant. While folks usually think of this as a romance due to stars Richard Gere and Debra Winger and the famous Joe Cocker song, “Up Where We Belong,” the R-rated movie is a lot harder than you remember. Director Taylor Hackford made a darker movie than people remember, and the big martial arts showdown between Gossett and Gere is memorable. 

enemy mine

Enemy Mine:

Wolfgang Petersen’s Enemy Mine is an unfairly obscure sci-fi flick. In this one, Dennis Quaid stars as a futuristic soldier stranded on a hostile planet with his alien enemy, played by Louis Gossett Jr. The two eventually become friends, and the movie turns into a touching buddy comedy, with Gossett’s Jerry eventually becoming pregnant (not by Quaid, mind you – the movie’s not that provocative). It ends up being a surprisingly touching sci-fi flick, with loads of action towards the end. Gossett, even buried under a ton of makeup, is great in it.

Louis Gossett jr movies

The Principal:

This is an underrated drama/action flick from the eighties that stars James Belushi as a broken-down, alcoholic teacher who, as punishment, is assigned to be a principal at an inner-city school run by gangs. With the help of the school’s tough guy security officer, played by Gossett, he ditches the bottle and starts cleaning up the school. It all adds up to a pretty violent, action-packed ending that makes this one of the most bad-ass teacher movies of all time, with it perhaps only bested by The Substitute, which came out a decade later.

iron eagle 1986

Louis Gossett Jr. got himself a nice franchise with this Sidney J. Furie-directed action flick. In it, he plays a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve who trains a teenager to rescue his father, who’s been shot down over an enemy country. The movie was such a smash that they made three sequels of diminishing quality, all bringing back Furie and Gossett (co-star Jason Gedrick returns for Iron Eagle II but is killed off early). I’d wager only the first one really holds up, although the third one, Aces: Iron Eagle 3, is still quite fun.



Along with Iron Eagle, Diggstown gave Louis Gossett Jr the rare chance to play a lead. In this one, he plays a retired boxer who’s convinced by a con artist buddy of his (a terrific James Woods) to fight in a tough man competition where, in one day, he’s pitted against the ten best fighters in a boxing-obsessed city called Diggstown. Gossett was in his mid-fifties when he did this and delivered one of his most amiable performances, with him and Woods making for a nice pair. Also keep your eyes peeled for a young Heather Graham.

What are your favorite Louis Gossett Jr movies? Let us know in the comments!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/louis-gossett-jr-five-great-roles/