Stage-trained character player of film and TV whose beady-eyed intensity and small wiry physique made him perfect for playing ferret-like punks and psychos in Hollywood genre films. Kelly trained with Stella Adler, studied mime with Marcel Marceau, and racked up NYC stage credits in musicals, dramas, and experimental theater. But film producer Joel Silver looked at him and saw a rat and cast him accordingly in Walter Hill's "The Warriors" (1979) and "48 Hrs." (1982), "Commando" (1985), and "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" (1990). As Luther in "The Warriors" ("Warriors ... come out to play!" he crooned), Kelly committed the assassination for which the heroes are blamed and chased across the city. As Sully in "Commando," Arnold Schwarzenegger's character likes him so much that he promises to kill him last. (He lied.)
Kelly slimes impressively in the nifty sci-fi thriller "Dreamscape" as a would-be assassin who attacks the President through his dreams. More recently he turned up in two period films directed by Spike Lee: "Malcolm X" (1992) as a teacher who discourages the young Malcolm from further studies and "Crooklyn" (1994) as an eccentric neighbor of the young protagonist. In between, he played a more conventional baddie in "The Crow" (1994).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Appeared in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band On the Road", an off-Broadway musical
Broadway debut in "Working", a musical version of Stud Turkel's book
Feature acting debut, Walter Hill's "The Warriors"; first film for producer Joel Silver
Portrayed the Younger John as well as Pierre Trudeau and Night Club Manager in "Lennon", an off-Broadway play on the life of the artist
Had a rare TV starring role in "Slippage", an episode of the fantasy anthology "Tales From the Darkside"
TV special debut, "Date Rape", an "ABC Afterschool Special"
Starred as "Woyzeck" in a Hartford Stage revival of Buchner's 19th century tragedy
Portrayed Salvador Dali in the Off-Broadway play "Lobster Alice"
Cast opposite Kevin Spacey in "K-PAX"
Played Unger in the remake of "The Longest Yard" with Adam Sandler