Short-cut to fame: bad teeth, redneck attitude |

Short-cut to fame: bad teeth, redneck attitude

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyThe only man to make Bill Murray laugh, David Shackelford said the character he plays in the movie "Minimum Wage" was written just for him. Shackelford plays the character Victor Swindler, a personal injury lawyer, in the movie.

David Shackelford is the only man to make Bill Murray laugh, according to one of the Farrelly brothers on the directors’ cut of “Kingpin.”

Shackelford attributes Murray’s chortling to being caught off guard by bad teeth and a redneck attitude. When he showed up on the set, Murray and Woody Harrelson weren’t expecting it. Shackelford was a bit of a secret the directors sprang on the rest of the cast, adding his character only because he’d made such an impression on them in an informal meeting after the movie was cast.

“Instinct told me I could go in and be normal and they’d forget about me immediately, or I could make them remember me,” said Shackelford.

At the time, he didn’t realize who the Farrelly brothers were, though he discovered soon enough. A veteran of community theater, “Kingpin” officially put him on the Hollywood map.

Shackelford plays a wonderfully smarmy personal injury lawyer – Victor Eugene Swindler or Victor Lloyd Swindler, depending on the take – in “Minimum Wage.” Subtle his character isn’t. They usually aren’t.

“I did a talent show in second grade, and my grandma said I would be an actor,” he said. “I listened to my grandma. Actually, it’s in my blood. My whole family is really dramatic.”

Like most of the cast writer and director Jonathan Bricklin brought in, Shackelford cites this character as his favorite, at least in front of a camera.

“It was just written for me,” he said.

Like other cast members, he’s taken advantage of the opportunity to ad lib whenever he gets the urge.

“This is a great canvas where we have a lot of freedom,” he said. “Normally, there’s not that much room to play.”

By playing Victor, he’s getting closer to his dream role: a bad cop, “70s style. As a kid, his favorite television show was “Starsky and Hutch,” and the romance of it still hasn’t worn off. His next project is another feature, “Spanish Fly.” He’s pretty tight-lipped about it due to a confidentiality agreement he signed, though he called it an interesting piece about an aphrodisiac wending its way around a bar.

Personally, Shackelford is more interested in another type of fly – fly fishing. He divides his time between L.A., where he works, and Crested Butte, where he fly fishes.

“That’s my heaven,” he said. “As soon as this is over, I head back to L.A. and wait to fish.”

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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