Lee Marvin is one of those actors who exudes charisma. Imagine him as John Wayne’s bad brother. Throughout his career, Marvin created a persona almost indistinguishable from the roles he played.
Think of the men he portrayed in movies like Point Blank, The Dirty Dozen, Eight Iron Men, Hell in the Pacific, and Paint your Wagon. The swaggering, sardonic persona may dominate his roles. But each performance is nuanced and filled with subtle details that slowly unveil the personality of the character he’s playing. And Marvin makes this look effortless. It’s almost like he’s not acting at all. He simply throws himself into a scene and very naturally and instinctively reacts to it.
Marvin can look strangely familiar on the screen. The characters he portrayed are always outsiders–through their eyes, we see the tragedy and the comedy of the world, to a point where we identify with them. Lee Marvin is quite simply awesome. In fact, he is so awesome that the independent-film director Jim Jarmusch founded a “secret” society in his honor.
Called “the Sons of Lee Marvin,” it’s a members-only club in which the only way for you to get in is to have a similar bone structure or some sort of physical resemblance to Lee Marvin. Judging by this, the criteria for becoming a member are pretty straightforward, if it weren’t for the fact that this so-called society is a hoax. Or is it? No one knows for sure, because whenever he’s asked to elaborate on the topic, Jarmusch’s answers are always so vague it makes it even harder to believe him.
Apart from Jarmusch, other alleged members of the organization include his buddy Tom Waits, John Lurie, Richard Boes, Nick Cave, and Iggy Pop. Reportedly one can become an honorary member if he is given a “special” card by the founders.
This is how John Boorman, who directed Marvin in Point Blank, got accepted. And if all of this is hard to believe, which it certainly is, this is what Jarmusch had to say to Venice Magazine back in 2000:
“The Sons of Lee Marvin is a secret organization. I can’t tell you much about it other than we have cards, and if you get a card from one of the founding members, you are an honorary member. Some of our founding members are myself, Tom Waits, John Lurie. We inducted at one point (musician) Nick Cave, because if you look like you could be a son of Lee Marvin, then you are instantly thought of by the Sons of Lee Marvin to be a Son of Lee Marvin.”
According to Jarmusch, who had always been an admirer of Marvin’s work, the foundation behind “the Sons of Lee Marvin” was a movie that he intended to do with the iconic actor, but sadly he never got to. The idea stuck with him for quite some time.
Lee Marvin was supposed to play an alcoholic father of three misanthropic sons, all of them at war with one another. However, the sudden death of the actor interfered with his plans, which is quite sad, because this really sounds like a movie that every hardcore fan of Jarmusch would love to see.
Whether or not this secret society is real, we must all agree, there is no more unique way to honor a true acting legend and a cult figure like Lee Marvin. And if he were still alive, he would certainly be in on the joke.