Pee-Wee Herman Actor Takes a Dark Turn in New Role
“There’s a lotta things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand.”
Paul Reubens is most widely known for his role as Pee-wee Herman in the memorable children’s television show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, as well as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, an early film by Tim Burton. Though the Pee-wee character is seen as droll and silly, there has always been something of a menacing undercurrent about the way Reubens plays that role. You were just sure that, any minute now, news would break that the character of Pee-wee Herman was a molester.
Perhaps that feeling was retrofitted by Reuben’s arrest in 1991 for masturbating during a movie in an adult theater. Following the release of Reuben’s mugshot, CBS stopped airing re-runs of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and the character, as well as the actor, became a national punchline.
The Pee-wee Herman clothing line is now discounted nationwide. All pants are half off.
Pee-wee Herman has a good chance at returning to the big screen. Audiences say they’d rather see him on screen in the theater than have him sitting behind them.
But Reubens got the last laugh when he appeared in character as Pee-wee at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards and asked the audience, “Heard any good jokes lately?” He received riotous applause and a standing ovation.
Reubens has revived his Pee-wee television show, but is looking to get the character back on the big screen, reportedly striking a deal with Judd Apatow to make that happen.
In the meantime, Reubens is next set to appear on the popular NBC drama The Blacklist, where he will portray “a dapper, finicky ‘muscle’ who handles delicate situations in the criminal underworld.”
“It’s going to be something totally different, and it’s going to be awesome,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp said in an Entertainment Weekly interview. “It can’t get strange enough for me. One of the most fun things is being able to write for actors who I’ve admired and think are interesting and try to play against expectations. I’d say he’s gonna shake things up a bit when he enters Red’s orbit.”
“It started with the character,” he says. “We knew what he would feel like and sound like, and then as we started kicking around names, Paul’s name came up as, ‘Well, that would be cool. That will never happen, but we might as well ask.’”