When I first met Phil Kilbourne, he scared the shit out of me.
We were doing a show at Penumbra together. And along with a boatload of other anxieties I was having at the time, Phil seemed like an oppressive, belittling character.
The man owned that role. And some of that spilled over into how we interacted offstage. But once I got to know him, I realized that it was life imitating art.
There’s no doubt that he was an imposing presence to me. And I soon learned that THAT’S what great artists do. They challenge you to bring your A-game. They have a way of keeping you from being lazy. But mostly they live in a way that inspires you to follow.
Phil was the epitome of a working actor. He travelled where the work was & brought that formidable talent with him.
When he was first diagnosed with cancer, he kept working. All the way up until his body betrayed him.
The last time I saw him in person was at Craftstravaganza. He stopped by my wife’s booth & bought a few bars of her raw soap.
I remember him looking pretty frail. But his sardonic humor was intact. His greatest asset, really. Something we shared.
And because of his illness, I knew that his presence there that day was basically a gift.
Well, Phil lost his battle this morning. And I regret the fuck out of that.
Because I just can’t see how that actually happened. Especially when something as low as cancer can bring down such a colossal figure like Phil Kilbourne.
But it’s happened. And there’s no changing that.
I just hope that wherever he lands, he’s towering above the pricks & making them laugh. Or at least showing them how to live a full life in character.