Buddy Duress - Down a Barrell, Over the Earth

Buddy Duress - Down a Barrell, Over the Earth

Buddy Duress has been an honest man, a convict, and, even, an intermittent movie star. A Queens native, Duress seemed resigned to a life of crime. A full-blooded Italian, he might be considered a product of the time and his environment. An abusive father. Raised as much by the rough-and-tumble NYC streets as his parents. A hustler through-and-through. The arrests started in his early twenties. The first time, it was just petty larceny. But then they escalated to drug charges. And this seemed to be his pattern, the . In the battle of nature versus nurture, the latter was definitely well ahead on the cards. But then, a stroke of fate appeared to change the course of Buddy’s life.

Buddy Duress was out of jail under the promise of completing a treatment program: a condition of his release. While waiting for his ride, he was faced with a choice: do what the law required and leave a free man, or go on the run as a wanted man. He chose to run. Buddy Duress spent the next year homeless. He slept on the benches of Central Park under an assumed identity. Police never did much digging into who he was; he was just another bum to them. As in any path in life, Duress found himself a part of a new community. As with anywhere in life,  a group of people seemed to fall into his orbit: a garden variety of criminals, like him, drug addicts, those with mental illness, or, just, people that fell on hard times. Oftentimes it was some combination of those classifications. Among those that he formed one of the most secure and stable bonds in, what had up to that point been a tumultuous and unstable life for Duress, was one with Arielle Holmes, a homeless drug addict stuck with an abusive boyfriend. Holmes fell in with the Safdie brothers by chance. The brothers were directing a movie of her life story. Buddy Duress ended up in their orbits. His magnetic personality drew them in. Something about Duress’s quick-wit, with a mouth to keep up, intrigued them. Perhaps what’s most notable about Duress though is his sincerity. He might aptly be characterized as an honest used-car salesman with an artistic, worldly intelligence that you wouldn’t find in most. His role in the film that would eventually become Heaven Knows What (2014) started off small. Slowly, it grew until Duress was a major character appearing in most of the movie.

From there, his acting career took off. But he wasn’t on a rocket ship to the moon. Duress was stuck in an asteroid belt. Within a few days of Heaven Knows What wrapping, his past finally caught up to him; he was arrested for his prior crimes. After some time at New York prison Rikers Island, he was cast in another movie, Person To Person. Shortly after, his career hit new heights. He starred alongside worldwide phenomenon Robert Pattinson in the critically acclaimed film Good Time in 2017. Buddy wasn’t just good in these movies. He was stealing the show. But, then, he would go back to prison for larceny, or on drug charges. His previous success would stall. But then he’d shoot more movies, like The Great Darkened Days (2018), Beware of the Dog (2020), and PVT Chat (2020). Finally, he was cast in Cameron Van Hoy’s Flinch. Buddy Duress did what he’s known for: delivering a passionate, fiery, show-stealing performance. He was back on top. Before the movie had even wrapped, though, Duress did the other thing he’s known for: getting arrested. Van Hoy assisted in paying Duress’ bail to spring him from Rikers to finish the movie, knowing that the power of his performance had to be there from start to finish.

And that seemed to be the end of Buddy Duress’ story. An actor back on top who had gotten as many chances as he could hope for. He could shoot more movies. His talent was undeniable. But, within four months, Duress was back in Rikers for robbing a bank. After an episode that Duress claims not to remember; one that occurred in a blackout, he had leaped from a building while fleeing the police. He was badly injured, but survived. Buddy Duress is currently in prison. He’s not due out until early 2022. As a humanitarian, one hopes Duress can clean up his act and stay out of prison for his own good. As a cinephile, one hopes Duress can continue to star in further movies instead of being in and out of prison, stalling his incredible performances. The one thing we know for sure? Duress has enormous star-power and an ineffable, enigmatic quality. If he could keep his nose clean. Get out of that asteroid belt. He’ll make it straight to the moon.


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