John Dunsworth, best known for his portrayal of the stumbling drunk Jim Lahey on the Canadian mockumentary series “Trailer Park Boys,” is being remembered for his underappreciated acting range, his skill at physical comedy and the countless one-liners he delivered on the show. His family says he died “peacefully after a short and unexpected illness.” He was 71.
Here are five things about Dunsworth’s performances and beloved Mr. Lahey character:
PLAYED A DRUNK BUT DIDN’T DRINK
For a show that featured its characters almost constantly hammered or high on marijuana, Dunsworth had very little experience with getting drunk in real life.
“He wasn’t a drinker but I guess because he could embody the inhibitions that come from being intoxicated, he was able to add the nuance and subtlety that comes from being a raging booze hound,” says fellow cast member Lucy DeCoutere, who played Lucy on the series.
“(Mr. Lahey) was the most affable drunk in the country.”
KING OF PHYSICAL COMEDY
He made stumbling down a flight of stairs, falling off his chair or bursting through a screen door look effortless.
During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview in 2015, Dunsworth told fans he enjoyed throwing his body around and “the hardest thing that I have to do on ‘Trailer Park Boys’ is stand back while stuntmen do easy pratfalls.”
EARLY PORTRAYAL OF GAY RELATIONSHIP
DeCoutere calls the show’s Mr. Lahey and Randy (played by Patrick Roach) “the first gay couple on Canadian TV.” The show approached their relationship without relying on stereotypical jokes or cliches, which might be why Dunsworth was invited to march in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade.
There are websites and Twitter accounts dedicated to repeating Mr. Lahey’s many, many one-liners, which were often laced with profanity and played off his alcoholism. Perhaps the most popular, “I am the liquor,” was emblazoned on an official “Trailer Park Boys” T-shirt. Meanwhile, there’s even an Urban Dictionary entry for “drinky-poo,” Lahey’s nickname for an alcoholic beverage.
SHOW’S DEPICTION OF GAMBLING ADDICTION REFLECTS REAL LIFE
Another character in the series, Ray (played by Barrie Dunn), struggles with an addiction to video lottery terminals. In 2005, Dunsworth went public to talk about a similar real-life gambling problem and campaigned for Nova Scotia to get rid of the devices in bars and elsewhere. He spoke out after hearing about another man who had lost $500,000 on the machines over a four-year period.
“The victims will assume that legal machines run by a government can’t be all that destructive,” Dunsworth said. “Thousands of these unsuspecting dupes will be financially ruined, and in being ruined, they will ruin their families.”