“I thrill when I drill a bicuspid / It’s swell though they tell me I’m maladjusted.”
– Orin Scrivello, DDS
That’s Steve Martin singing his way through his portrayal of a sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors – just one in a long line of Hollywood dentists that don’t exactly portray our kind as the caring, fun-loving professionals we are.
On the one hand, it’s unfortunate that we can’t seem to catch a break from Hollywood screenwriters. On the other hand, on-screen dentists have given us some truly memorable characters. Here are a few of our favourites:
Tim Whatley DDS from Seinfeld
Before Bryan Cranston’s iconic turn as Walter White on Breaking Bad, he played Jerry Seinfeld’s dentist. From his behavior over unconscious patients to becoming Jewish to take advantage of the jokes, he was one the 90’s sitcom’s best bit characters.
Julia Harris from Horrible Bosses
Jennifer Aniston’s always easy on the eyes, but especially so in her portrayal of Dr. Harris in Horrible Bosses. It was strange at first seeing the sweet girl next door take on this role but she absolutely nailed it.
Dr. Isaac Yankem from The World Wrestling Federation
Kids everywhere felt pain in their mouths as soon as the menacing dentist hit the ring with his white dentist shirt and his bag of rusty tools. The Yankem persona was short-lived, but while Glen Jacobs (who played him), went on to have a 20+ year career in wrestling, he was quoted as saying that he never had more fun than he did as the ‘good doctor’.
Orin Scrivello from Little Shop of Horrors
We mentioned him off the top, but he’s worth noting again because Steve Martin absolutely killed it. From the look on his face when he’d take a huff of nitrous to the wonderful way he delivers his last line before he dies:(‘What did I ever do to you?’), he’s worth the price of admission alone. And he can sing!
Christian Szell from Marathon Man
No greater actor took a turn as a dentist than Sir Lawrence Oliver in Marathon Man, and no on-screen dentist scared the bejezus out of an entire generation quite like this Nazi-turned-dentist. “Is it safe”, has become one of the most iconic phrases in movie history.