On a dystopian Earth, one girl with an awesome mohawk and a war tank fights against tyranny, as a mega-corporation (aptly named Water and Power) greedily hoards all the potable water left on the entire planet. But she is not alone; she has the help of a tribe of kangaroo-humanoids and Jet Girl (who has stolen…a jet from W&P) to help her fight back this evil greedy corporation. This is the world of Tank Girl.
By the time of Tank Girl’s hit the big screen in 1995, there had been many campy movies based on comics made in the ’90s; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Rocketeer, The Mask, and the horrible Fantastic Four, to name a few. But none so gleefully and willingly embraced the odd nature of their material the way Tank Girl did. Its wacky humor, bizarre sets and tongue-in-cheek action sequences were faithful to the original series, while placing Tank Girl front and center as a strong female lead character that didn’t quite “fit the mold” of a superhero, but did heroic things. Take a look at the cast of Tank Girl and find out what they’ve been up to since driving tanks and ridding the world of evil corporations!
15. LORI PETTY
Tank Girl is one of Lori Petty’s most recognizable roles. Her feisty delivery of the script, in the particular pitch of her voice (though somewhat ironic given the assertive, kick-butt nature of the character) would nevertheless become iconic. The British model Sarah Cox once did a magazine photoshoot dressed as Tank Girl to lobby for the role, and three of the four Spice Girls even tried out for the part. But in the end, this plucky misfit got it.
She got her start in the made for TV movie Bates Motel, and then went on to be in A League of Their Own and In the Army Now. After Tank Girl, she played Livewire in the Superman TV series (as well as on The New Batman Adventures). She went on to do guest spots on several other shows before landing a recurring role on Orange is the New Black.
The legendary gangsta rapper and hip-hop emcee reportedly made his appearance in Tank Girl for $800,000. Though he’s said he got a lot of flack for the role, who would turn down those numbers? He plays T-Saint, a kangaroo-humanoid that is first apprehensive of having Tank Girl and Jet Girl join the crew. He soon realizes the value of their help and a camaraderie quickly develops.
Ice-T began his career as a rapper back in the ’80s, after being a card-carrying member of the Original Harlem Crips. With a lifestyle firmly in the streets and orphaned at a young age, his songs were hardcore. Tank Girl was one of his first film roles, followed shortly after by an appearance in Johnny Mnemonic. Most of his roles haven’t been large, except on TV, where he’s played Detective Odafin Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for the past 17 years.
13. JEFF KOBER
Tank Girl’s boyfriend (well, technically the one she got after her first one was shot in the desert) is a kangaroo man named Booga. He’s one of the first Rippers that Tank Girl and Jet Girl befriend after their escape from W&P. Apparently, the sex scene of theirs was cut from the film by MGM, despite $5,000 having already been spent to make his manhood. It makes you wonder just what exactly that would have resembled.
After appearing in recurring roles on Falcon Crest and China Beach, as well as guest spots on shows like the X-Files, he got the part of Booga. Then it was back to TV for Kindred: The Embraced, and Walker: Texas Ranger. In recent years he’s stuck to TV, appearing on Buffy, Charmed, Star Trek: Enterprise. His longest recurring role to date has been on Sons of Anarchy as Jacob Hale, Jr.
12. STAN WINSTON (RIPPER DESIGN)
Stan Winston and his workshop slashed their normal prices in half to be able to lend their prodigious creative talents to Tank Girl. Stan and his team were directly responsible for the Ripper design. While in the comics the Rippers are more kangaroo-like, director Rachel Talalay wanted the actors to be able to move more convincingly in their prosthetics. Each Ripper had articulated ears, tails and snouts that could be moved by remote control.
Stan Winston and his workshop have brought to life great creature and practical effects in the Terminator films, Predator, Aliens, Congo, Monster Squad and Jurassic Park. He even provided the special effects for Billy Idol’s music video “Shock to the System”. He most recently worked on Iron Man, Avatar and Shutter Island. He passed away in 2008 leaving a legacy of cinematic creativity behind him.
11. DON HARVEY
The role of Tank Girl‘s scumbag extraordinaire goes to Don Harvey as Sgt. Small, a minion of Kesslee’s who has the hots for Jet Girl and just won’t stop harassing her. Luckily she shoots him during the Ripper’s last stand against W&P.
A veteran character actor of both TV and movies who loves acting “because it allows you to explore different lifestyle choices”, his most notable role prior to Tank Girl was in Casualties of War with Sean Penn. He would appear again in the wartime movie The Thin Red Line years later and provide the voice of Chucko in Batman: Beyond and Justice League Unlimited. Most recently he’s had recurring roles on both General Hospital (as Tom Baker) and The Deuce (as Danny Flanagan).
10. REG. E CATHEY
Originally wanting the part of Stevie (an Aborigine in the comic), Reg. E Cathey got to play the part of Deetee, leader of the Rippers. He is suspicious of Tank Girl and Jet Girl at first joining their merry band of kangaroo men, and sends them on a mission to steal weapons and supplies before letting them become bonafide members of the crew.
Before Tank Girl, you’ll have seen him the year before in The Mask, and also in Se7en. He had a recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (where he’d share scenes with Ice-T again), Oz and The Wire, as well as on House of Cards and Outcast. His latest movie, Flock of Four, is out this year.
9. SCOTT COFFEY
Scott Coffey plays Donner, the romantic interest of Jet Girl, because Tank Girl can’t get all the hot kangaroo man action. Of the eight total Rippers in the film, he is only one of four that was given principal action (the others just sort of stood around). His Ripper appearance ended up looking the most boyish (Ice-T’s, for instance, wore a black bandana around his ears).
Appearing in such teenage hit films as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful, he was in the TV series version of The Outsiders, and didn’t really do any adult fare until Tank Girl. He would be reunited with Jet Girl when they both appeared together in Mulholland Drive, Ellie Parker, as well as the latest mini-series Twin Peaks on Showtime.
8. ALAN MARTIN & JAMIE HEWLETT (WRITERS)
Tank Girl was originally published in Deadline magazine in 1988, created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a giant asteroid has hit Earth and rendered it an almost uninhabitable desert wasteland, it dealt with themes of anti-heroism, western stoicism and contemporary post-feminism. It also tackled taboo modes of sexuality like sadomasochism, lesbianism, and some would argue bestiality (just what DO you call sex with a kangaroo man?!). After a 20-year break they recently released more Tank Girl together!
The writers weren’t very happy with the final product of the film, since a lot of its more extreme material was removed (the sex scene between Booga and Tank Girl, her torture scene at the hands of Kesslee and a scene depicting a room full of sex toys). Only Jamie Hewlett went on to write anything else for the big screen, including Blade II and Cloverfield.
7. ANN CUSACK
Originally the role of Sub Girl, one of the slave dancers in the Liquid Silver sex club was supposed to go to Bjork. She was to make a cameo after the same fashion as Iggy Pop. Ann Cusack got the role instead, and Bjork provided a song for the soundtrack. Sub Girl gives Tank Girl and Jet Girl information about Sam’s whereabouts.
Ann Cusack’s first film was A League of Their Own, where she first met Lori Petty. She then appeared in bit parts on Murder, She Wrote and Love and War before getting the role of Sub Girl. A bigger break for her came from being a recurring character on The Jeff Foxworthy Show and also in the series Maggie, where she played the title role. She can most recently be seen in the thriller Nightcrawler and the hit shows Tycoon and Better Call Saul.
6. IGGY POP
When Tank Girl is separated from her young friend and taken to W&P, Sam is sold into bondage to the Madame of the sex club called Liquid Silver. There, she’s molested by a pedophile named Rat Face, portrayed by none other than Iggy Pop (whose real life nickname is in fact, “The Iguana”). Tank Girl and Jet Girl, along with the Rippers, infiltrate the club and rescue Sam before things go too far.
Most everyone knows Iggy Pop for being the wild and crazy frontman of the Stooges, and then for just being wild and crazy. However, besides appearing in Tank Girl he’s also popped up in movies like School of Rock, and lent his writing talents to The Simpsons and The Wire. Catch him most recently in the documentary Gimme Danger.
5. ARIANNE PHILLIPS (COSTUME DESIGN)
Like all comic book adaptations to film, costume design is vital in conveying the tone of the comics on the big screen. Since comic characters have very specific looks, and especially Tank Girl, Arianne Phillips was tasked with bringing them to life given all her earlier credits in similar genre movies.
No stranger to dressing bizarre characters, before Tank Girl Arianne Phillips had already done the costume design for The Crow. She would go on to add her unique touch to Girl, Interrupted, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and several of Madonna’s music videos. In fact, she is the pop star’s personal stylist for her tours as well. Her most recent films include Kingsman: The Secret Service, Nocturnal Animals and the upcoming Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
4. JAMES HONG
When Tank Girl, Jet Girl and the Rippers infiltrate W&P, they get ambushed. The evil Kesslee has been resurrected in the form of a cyborg, his body having been reconstructed by his cybernetic surgeon Che’tsai, played by the great character actor James Hong. He informs them that Tank Girl had been bugged the whole time after her escape.
With a long career in film spanning several decades, James Hong’s early films included Godzilla, King of the Monsters! and the TV show The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. He was in every show from Bonanza, to Perry Mason, to Starsky and Hutch. He even appeared on soaps like Dynasty. He’s most known for Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, and lending his uniquely nasally voice to the animated films Mulan and Kung Fu Panda.
3. MALCOLM MCDOWELL
A critically acclaimed character actor dubbed “the British Dennis Hopper”, he’s often associated with playing depraved villains, psychopaths, and unstable characters. It’s no different in Tank Girl, where he puts his acting chops to good use chewing the scenery as Kesslee, the tyrannical leader of W&P. After capturing Tank Girl in the middle of the desert and shooting her boyfriend, he is grievously wounded when she escapes his compound with the help of the Rippers and vows revenge.
With an extremely long career beginning in the ’60s, he won praise for his diabolical performance in A Clockwork Orange, as well as the title character in Caligula. He has played H.G. Wells in Time After Time, as well as appearing in cult favorites like Tales from the Crypt. He has portrayed Metallo in many Superman series, and was recently a recurring character in the series Mozart in the Jungle.
2. RACHEL TALALAY (DIRECTOR)
Such names previously attached to Tank Girl were Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, although both dropped out. Director rachel Talalay found out about Tank Girl when her stepdaughter got her a copy of the comic for Christmas while she was in the middle of shooting her first film, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She liked it so much that she became interested when MGM acquired the rights, and cast Lori Petty specifically because she was “Tank Girl in real life”.
Though getting her start in horror, after Tank Girl she directed a slew of episodes in primetime television shows, including Touching Evil and To Have and To Hold. She directed the mini-series Dice and several episodes of Ally McBeal. Most recently, she’s directed an episode of Supergirl, an episode of Sherlock and several episodes of Dr. Who. She wants to direct She-Hulk next!
1. NAOMI WATTS
Apparently Naomi Watts hasn’t been too excited about her involvement in Tank Girl in recent years, but that may be because it doesn’t quite fit with her film pedigree. But she brought her acting chops to the part of the introverted jet mechanic who’s all but lost hope of ever getting out from under the heel of W&P. Jet Girl wasn’t quite as iconic as Tank Girl as far as characters go, but she was essential in helping Tank Girl escape the W&P compound.
Prior to Tank Girl, Naomi Watts’s most significant role had been in the TV series Home and Away. It would be one of her first major film roles prior to the likes of Mulholland Drive. After that she made The Ring, Ned Kelly and 21 Grams. Most recently, she can be seen in the latest Twin Peaks mini-series on Showtime.
Would you like to see a Tank Girl reunion? Let us know in the comments section!
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