The Menace That Missed
Twenty years ago, Menace II Society was supposed to make Tyrin Turner a star. So why have you never heard of him?
By Thomas Golianopoulos
Everything peaked for Tyrin Turner at the 9th Annual Independent Spirit Awards. Nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Menace II Society, a chill ran down Turner’s spine as his name was announced alongside the likes of Jeff Bridges, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Matthew Modine. Turner didn’t win the Spirit Award, but Roger Ebert pulled him aside that night and told him he should have been up for an Oscar. He belonged at “the Big Show,” Ebert said. Turner mesmerized in Menace as Caine, a crack dealer and a killer, an aspiring father figure and a confused teen. Turner’s quizzical expression conveyed all the awe and bewilderment of a teenager enraptured by South-Central gang life. His warm smile made him a heartthrob, and yet he burns with violence throughout the film.
Turner was in a rare and coveted position. By the time he was 22 years old, he’d starred in one of the most iconic films of the decade, befriended rising filmmakers, and been feted with nominations and acclaim. Janet Jackson even told him he had “some of the sexiest lips [she] ever saw.” Then, he disappeared from view. [Continue reading.]