RIP: Stan Kirsch (Actor, Acting Coach…. Highlander’s ‘Richie Ryan’)

EchoChamber mourns the loss of a talented actor and friend...

From time to time, EchoChamber unfortunately has to report on the death of people in the entertainment industry – it is more rare that passing is of someone we know off-screen…

I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a stage with Stan Kirsch several times, mostly due to his work with the Highlander franchise. In the tv show he took the role of Richie Ryan, the protégé  that Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) takes under his wing in the opening episode and who appeared in a majority of the show’s episodes, eventually revealed as an immortal in his own right and even returning for guest appearances when he was no longer a regular.  I first met him at the second Chronicles event in Birmingham at the tail-end of the 1990s and then at several US-based events including two of the most beloved HLWW conventions.  At his final convention apperance ‘The Gathering’ in Los Angeles in 2017, he had to cut his weekend appearance short as he was having major neck surgery the next day – something he admitted was wholly ironic given the nature of the show. Despite clearly being nervous, he was ever the consumate professional and was genuinely overwhelmed by the massive outflowing of support from the gathered attendees. Though I did not know him as well as I did other members of the show, he was always welcoming, gracious and remarkably humble.

Born in 1968, acting was something that interested him from an early age. Following a brief stint as a professional child actor, Stan focused on academics and eventually graduated cum laude from Duke University with a B.A. in political science. He then returned to acting and six months later landed a lead role in the ABC pilot The Streets of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.  Although the series was not picked up, Stan relocated to the West Coast of America where he spent his twenties starring and guest starring in numerous television shows, movies for television and feature films.  With over a hundred hours of screen time to his credit, Stan’s resume included a memorable guest-spot on Friends, JAG, General Hospital  and – of course – that five year run on Highlander 

“I remember they said that they were looking for a young Johnny Depp! A street-wise bad boy. I don’t think I have that demeanour (laughs). But I grew up in new York and I think I had some of that urban quality about me and I think they wanted that,” he once told me. ” I also think they got lucky with the chemistry between us (the main cast) when we were up in Vancouver. I can confidently say it’s been unique and dynamic…”

Upon turning thirty, Stan got behind the camera for the first time.  While directing several short films and new media projects including Straight Eye: The Movie (starring Alan Dale and Rex Lee), Us One Night (starring Alison Brie) and Liza Weil), and a commercial for QUALCOMM, he also cast a variety of projects including three seasons of the MTV series Invincible, Stan Lee’s Time Jumper for Walt Disney Studios and Transgressions (which gained the BAFTA Award nominee for Best Short Film).  During that time Stan consolidated his behind-the-camera skills and  began to concentrate his own career on teaching and coaching actors.

As demand for his classes and coaching grew, Stan and his wife, Kristyn Green, formally formed Stan Kirsch Studios (SKS) in 2008.  SKS quickly became one of the most prominent actor training facilities in Los Angeles. Over the past decade Stan’s clientele, comprised of both celebrities and working actors throughout the entertainment industry, booked upwards of a thousand roles from film leads to TV series regulars, recurring roles, guest and co-stars as well as leads On and Off-Broadway.  SKS became the home to three studios in which multiple classes are held concurrently as well as two audition taping facilities and a top notch faculty comprised of esteemed teachers, coaches, and studio administrators.

Stan passed away on 11th January in Los Angeles, his death confirmed by his official facebook page and the LA Coroner.

We send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends at this difficult time.