The veteran actor Robert Forster has died at his Los Angeles home on Friday following a brief battle with brain cancer. He was 78. Forster was a hugely respected and talented actor whose career spans over 100 feature films working alongside other distinctive names. He was spotted in stage productions by legendary director John Huston who cast him in 1967’s Reflections in a Golden Eye and two years later he worked with Haskell Wexler on Medium Cool. The roles kept coming, with Forster essaying a series of stoic characters, often detectives or law-men. He was the lead character in tv series Banyon (1971-1973) and Nakia (1974) and guested on shows such as Magnum PI, Jake and the Fatman, Police Story and Hotel. He was Captain Dan Holland in Disney’s The Black Hole in 1979 and continued to work steadily in both television and film.
Though rarely out of work, Forster’s prominence lessened and the opportunities diminished for good work, to the extent that he felt his career was ending – by the mid-90s he no longer had an agent. But Tarantino was a fan and told him he wanted him as Max Cherry for his upcoming Jackie Brown (the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch). Years later Forster told Vanity Fair in an interview that while he’d appreciated Tarantino’s offer, he felt it unlikely the studio would accept the casting. He noted that Trantino’s reply was ‘I’ll hire whomever I want‘. He did and it garnered Forster an Academy Award nomination and a return to the spotlight. Roles in Supernova (2000), Me, Myself & Irene (also 2000), David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) continued with recurring roles in Karen Sisco (2003-2004), The Grid (2004), Huff (2004-2005) and Heroes (2007-2008). One-off apperances and smaller-movies filled the few gaps between notable releases. 2017’s revival of Lynch’s Twin Peaks saw him play Sheriff Truman and between 2012-2018 he played Tim Allen’s father on Last Man Standing (a rare comedic role for Forster).
Actors who had worked with him, including Samuel L. Jackson, Bryan Cranston, Frances Fisher, Bruce Boxleitner, Donnie Wahlberg, Brent Spiner and producer Gale Ann Hurd were some of the first to tweet their condolences and memories.
“Today the world is left with one less gentlemen,” said Tarantino in a statement: “One less square shooter. One less good man. One less wonderful father. One less marvelous actor. I remember all the breakfasts we had at silver spoons. All the stories. All the kind words. All the support. Casting Robert Forster in Jackie Brown was one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. I will miss you dearly my old friend…”
Forster had completed reprising his award-winning Breaking Bad role of vacuum-salesman-turned-‘relocator Ed in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (which debuted on Netflix this week) and his co-star Aaron Paul echoed the words of condolence: “I am heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of Robert Forster. My god. I had the privilege of knowing this beautiful man and working along side of him. A true gentleman that loved to act. I love you my friend. Thank you for loving me. You are and always will be a legend…”
Forster will also appear in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Amazing Stories.