For nearly five decades, character actor Carel Struycken has been a familiar face on film and television screens all around the world!
Having made a name for himself performing in classics like The Addams Family and Star Trek, Struycken is synonymous with playing mysterious, often imposing characters.
Let’s find out more about this unique actor’s life and career and see what he’s up to today!
Born in The Hague, Netherlands in 1948, Struycken grew up on the small island of Curaçao. It was during his years on the island that Struycken became interested in composing music, a passion he maintains to this day.
Later, he studied directing at The Netherlands Film Academy and went on to continue these studies at the American Film Institute.
How tall is Carel Struycken?
As a result of being born with acromegaly, Struycken has distinct facial characteristics and is 7 feet 3 inches tall.
Struycken has utilized his impressive stature to dramatic effect, often playing characters that are larger-than-life, mystical, and even other-worldly.
From fun-loving and affable characters like Lurch to the more insidious ones like the Moonlight Man in Gerald’s Game, Carl Struycken is a versatile talent who has made a name for himself in the industry. But his roots in film happened by chance!
While tales of being randomly discovered are rare in Hollywood, Struycken has exactly one of these stories.
One day, he was standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine when he was approached by a woman who turned out to be the personal assistant to director Michael Schultz.
Schultz was in the process of making the film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the assistant thought Struycken would be perfect for the character “The Brute.” So began Carel Struycken’s film career!
Following appearances in feature films like Ewoks: The Battle for Endor and The Witches of Eastwick, Struycken entered primetime with his role as the ethereal Giant in David Lynch’s groundbreaking 1990 series Twin Peaks.
In the show, he plays a spirit that relays visions to the main character Dale Cooper. Although he only appeared in five episodes of the original run, Struycken’s character made a huge impact and attracted a major fanbase.
He would later reprise a version of this character in the form of The Fireman in the 2017 sequel Twin Peaks: The Return.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Trekkies will recognize Carel Struycken as the silent Mr. Homn in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Appearing in five episodes of TNG, Mr. Homn was a loyal personal assistant to the Betazoid ambassador Lwaxana Troi.
For his performance, Struycken wielded his trademark stoic look and communicated mostly in sign language.
He would later appear in Star Trek Voyager as The Spectre in an episode titled “The Thaw” and is one of few actors to appear in both Star Trek and Star Wars franchises!
The Addams Family
In 1991, Carel shot to national stardom by playing the Frankenstein’s-monster lookalike Lurch in The Addams Family movie.
As the family butler, Struycken brought a mixture of bumbling pathos, loyalty, and warmth to a role that saw him largely communicating through a series of grunts.
While Struycken did not originate the character, he likely propelled the lovable Lurch into our collective cultural consciousness.
Struycken would go on to play this character again in Addams Family Values and Addams Family Reunion.
In between his more famous roles, Struycken can be found in dozens of movies and TV shows! In 1997, he once again played an alien opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.
Other notable television credits include roles in Gotham, Blacklist, Cold Case, and more.
What is Carel Struycken doing now?
Struycken continues acting to this day, including recent roles in the horror films Gerald’s Game, Dr. Sleep, and The Eden Theory.
In Gerald’s Game, he plays a serial killer with acromegaly who haunts the protagonist as she is trapped in a bed at her vacation home.
The Stephen King thriller was directed by Mike Flanagan, and Struycken received critical acclaim for his spooky portrayal.
Is he in the new ‘Wednesday’ series on Netflix?
Although he does not appear in Tim Burton’s new Netflix series adaptation featuring the Addams Family characters, Struycken’s influence is clearly felt.
In Wednesday, Lurch is played by Romanian actor George Burcea, and the character’s makeup, costume design, and overall visual effect remind us of Carel Struycken’s iconic look from the 90s series of films!
Fans of Carel Struycken have a wide variety of his acting work to enjoy. We hope to continue seeing him on both small and silver screens in the future!
Married with two children, today Struycken lives and works in Los Angeles. Thanks to his iconic roles, he makes frequent appearances at conventions where he enjoys interacting with fans.
In addition to acting, Struycken enjoys photography and manages a blog where he explores the world through spherical panoramas. Through this medium, he sometimes collaborates with his brother, well-known Dutch artist Peter Struycken.
Besides visual art and acting, Carel has a passion for self-reliant gardening, also called permaculture. Recently, he described why he loves this activity: “The whole idea of permaculture is to put in as little work as possible and allow nature to find its balance.”
As a vegetarian, Struycken continues to produce vegetables through this process for him and his family to enjoy.