In the vast galaxy of Hollywood stars, few figures stand as tall, both literally and metaphorically, as Carel Struycken. Towering at an impressive 7 feet, this Dutch actor’s presence is as commanding off-screen as it is in the many roles he has portrayed. From the enigmatic Lurch in “The Addams Family” to the mysterious Giant in “Twin Peaks,” Struycken’s career is a fascinating journey through some of film and television’s most iconic moments.
But who is the man behind these memorable characters? Join us as we delve into the life and career of Carel Struycken, exploring his early years in the Netherlands, his unexpected entry into acting, and the diverse roles that have made him a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or just discovering his work, prepare to be captivated by the story of an actor who has truly made a mark on the silver screen.
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, alongside Jimmy Workman.
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?
Carel Struycken has continued his prolific acting career in recent years, appearing in a variety of film and television projects.
In 2017, he reprised his role as The Giant in the Twin Peaks revival series, set decades after the original 1990s show.
In 2018, he played the character The Eden Theory in the sci-fi thriller Two Minutes to Midnight. The next year, in 2019, Struycken had a role in the TV mini-series The Stranger as the character Shire.
Moving to 2022, he appeared as the horror film Doctor Sleep as Grampa Flick, based on a Stephen King novel. Also in 2022, he played the role of Roy in the film Class of ’85. Now in his 70s, Struycken has remained active as an actor, often taking on quirky, mysterious roles that take advantage of his imposing physical presence.
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.”
In the interview, the conversation focuses on his passion for permaculture and natural farming. Struycken explains permaculture as working with nature to retain water, reduce soil erosion, and utilize natural methods.
He shares his experiences with natural mulching and the balance of insects in his garden, emphasizing the importance of understanding local ecosystems.
The discussion also covers the challenges of modern agriculture, including the ecological impact of industrial methods and the complexities of organic certification.
Struycken reflects on the work of Japanese farmer Fukuoka and Bill Mollison, highlighting their contributions to natural farming and permaculture.
The interview concludes with a recommendation of Fukuoka’s “One Straw Revolution,” underscoring Struycken’s belief in sustainable agriculture and the need to work harmoniously with nature. His insights provide a valuable perspective on the current state of agriculture and the potential for a more sustainable approach.
As a vegetarian, Struycken continues to produce vegetables through this process for him and his family to enjoy.