After a brief bout with Leukemia, the real Batman, Adam West has left this world to fight crime on another plane. “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement. Always good-natured and playful at heart, West had a way with his characters and his fans.
Probably most notable as the titular star of the 60s television series Batman, a humorous take on the caped, crime fighter genre; which of course spawned a film version of the same name later that year – which I might argue is still the best feature-length Batman movie to date. Apparently struggling for steady work after that show was cancelled, he did find some amount of recognition and fame as the eccentric and dim-witted (but lovable) mayor, Adam West, in Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy.” He also is in a handful of various television episodes and recognizable voice work here and there.
Although never a super-star, actress Glenne Headly had a wonderful one-two punch in the 1980s, with the gloriously funny remake Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and offbeat technicolor comic-strip blockbuster Dick Tracy. Headly also had a steady television career with regular roles on ER and MONK. The actress was always doing one or two films on top of one or two TV shows, being a serial guest star on shows as diverse as the X-Files, Parks & Recreation and one of the several CSI spin-offs. She started out her career in Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she met her first husband, John Malkovich. The marriage ended in divorce after only a few years, after Malkovich started cheating on her with Michelle Pfeiffer on the set of Dangerous Liaisons. Like Nicole Kidman, about the same time she stepped away from a high-profile husband, opportunity for edgier material in more sizable roles, seemed to present itself. Like most great character actors, she was an onscreen chameleon, going from funny to sexy to vulnerable to hyper-intelligent to invisible across projects, and her works speaks for itself in its own quiet way, because she was never a Hollywood celebrity.
It has not been a good week for fans of the James Bond Franchise. Earlier, the first singer to pass, of all those who had contributed a credits song was Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell at 52. Now the Big C has claimed the life of Roger Moore, the third actor to play James Bond, and the first one to shuck off this mortal coil at the age of 89. While Moore was often associated with the ‘silly phase’ of the franchise (culminating with the space romp, Moon Raker), in fact things has taken an over-the-top tone as early as the fourth film, Thunderball (1965) a few years earlier when Sean Connery still had the role. Moore had a lighter, more above-it-all, attitude that he carried throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s. His model of 007 was clearly the template for the Pierce Brosnan era that followed in the 1990s.
Moore started his career on television, where he was involved with several series in the 1950s and 1960s, the chief among them modern day Robin Hood vigilante series, The Saint, which ran for most of the latter decade. This was often cited as the reason he got the James Bond role after Australian George Lazenby turned down long term commitments to the role after making only a single film. Moore went on to make seven 007 films over twelve years, starred in a few other (forgettable) action films in both the UK and the US concurrent to his lengthy stint as the worlds most famous super spy. He went into retirement after 1985’s A View To A Kill, popping out for charity work (Unicef, PETA) or the occasional sly casting in parodies of spy films.
It was not a good week for fine, grizzled, aged character actors. Powers Boothe passed on Sunday, and the world of genre films is sorely diminished. Boothe was a favourite of directors who liked their films packed with testosterone. Walter Hill used him as a loose canon in the underrated soldier thriller, Southern Comfort and again alongside Nick Nolte in Extreme Prejudice. William Friedkin gave him a tiny scene in the 1981 leather-bar murder mystery, Cruising, which he makes the most of. John Milius cast him as the soldier role model for the high school kids in Red Dawn, John Boorman used him in The Emerald Forrest and Oliver Stone cast him in the icky back-water horror, U-Turn. Boothe was apart of the all star cast in the Disney (well, Touchstone due to all the violence) telling of the shoot out at the OK Coral, 1993’s Tombstone. Robert Rodriguez used him as a vile senator in both the Sin City films. And finally, the coup de grace of his career was in that bastion of character actor bliss, HBO’s Deadwood where he was the rival saloon owner who was the boss of the marvelous Ricky Jay as a dealer of cards.
If you wanted high energy, straight-backed menace with a dollop of showmanship, well, Boothe was your man. He will be sorely missed.
Musician, actor, and all around badass Michael Parks has passed on at 77. Familiar to TV audience from his myriad of guest-appearances over four decades on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, The Equalizer and Twin Peaks (playing a French Canadian scoundrel), Parks just brought that heady brew of intimidating and crazy, with a twinkle in his eye. His peculiar cadence and mannerisms of speaking make him in the league of Christopher Walken, Al Pacino and Robert Deniro, as being instantly recognizable in any part, but still able to fold into a character. And he could do this with only minutes of screen time, whereas A-listers had a whole film to do so. Parks was exceptionally efficient and talented as a character actor and a thief of scenes.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez cast him as the ubiquitous Sheriff McGraw across 4 films (Kill Bill, Death Proof, Planet Terror, and his stunning mood setting intro for From Dusk Till Dawn.) Lately Kevin Smith has been using him to play megalomaniacs and put him in a very central role both Red State and Tusk, but really, Parks ace in the hole was stealing single scenes, like his Mexican Pimp in the back half of Kill Bill, or his prospector in Django Unchained. He worked right up to his death (Hostiles is currently in production). He will be sorely missed.
Master director Jonathan Demme has passed on today from complications due to heart disease and Cancer. He leaves behind an impressive legacy of feature films in all genres, including a robust palette of documentaries and concert films. While Demme was never the household name a la Scorsese, Spielberg or Hitchcock, he was always making films that have stood the test of time, and had major cache from cinephiles; from his early years in the Roger Corman school of exploitation trash, such as Caged Heat and Black Mama White Mama (the latter of which he wrote the screenplay for), through-out the eighties with underrated films like Something Wild and his magnificent documentaries on Spalding Grey (Swimming to Cambodia) and The Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense!) His 1998 comedy Married To The Mob, might just be the most underrated comedy of that decade.
His profile rose considerably with the Oscar sweep of horror-procedural-camp The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. Throughout the 1990s Demme films were consistently recognized come awards time: Philadelphia, which ‘elevated’ Tom Hanks from a comedy actor to a capital “S” serious drama guy, and also brought major mainstream attention to gay issues in America, and Beloved, adapted from Toni Morrison’s slavery novel, which put TV icon Oprah Winfrey in front of the film camera to great effect.
While his remake of The Manchurian Candidate was quietly forgotten, I know Andrew around these parts will always shout the praises for his low-key stylized wedding drama, Rachel Getting Married – which gave serious actor credibility to Anne Hathaway, due to her wonderful performance. Demme continued to support her now very successful career, making a point of showing up to the TIFF premiere of Hathaway starring Colossal.
I personally have not kept up with his recent work of the past 5 or 6 years, but the films always get wide play on the A-list festival circuit, including his 2016 documentary on Justin Timberlake.
I suppose that was the wonderful thing about Jonathan Demme, as a director and a storyteller (and I am guessing here, as a person), he made sure everyone involved looked good, and his own directorial flourishes were only ever in service of the story and the characters of his films. As one of Americas premiere filmmakers, and a key influence on the current wave of A-list directors (P.T. Anderson to Alexander Payne and Wes Anderson have all payed homage to his style of close-up for emotional effect) he will be sorely missed.
It’s with a heavy heart we must say farewell to a beloved and most prolific actor in one Bill Paxton who died Sunday as a result of complications during heart surgery. Paxton is survived by Louise Newbury, his wife of 30 years, and children James and Lydia Paxton. The 22-year-old James recently filmed a guest-starring role on Paxton’s Training Day series.
Almost ever since I can remember, Bill Paxton has been a part of my movie-watching lifestyle. As early as the first Terminator movie he’s become a recognizable figure in Hollywood. My younger days saw me in front of the Showtime/HBO channel watching Weird Science about six thousand times and as he became known to do, absolutely stole that movie as the very unlikable but hilarious older brother, Chet.
After that he could be found in a whole slew of pictures year after year. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where his breakout role really was, but I venture that a lot of people woould argue his turn as the whiny (yet somehow badass) Private in James Cameron’s Aliens. It was not uncommon for Paxton to show up in three, four, sometimes five movies in a single year …and so many memorable performances; from Near Dark to Twister to Edge of Tomorrow and all of the wonderful stuff in between.
My stomach just sank this morning when I got the news and I think we all owe a thank you for the years of pleasure we are indebted to Mr. Paxton for. God speed sir, you will be missed deeply.
Legendary actor John Hurt as passed on just less than a week after his 77th birthday. How does one even begin to sum up his career? From British Television in the 1960s to a small role in the multi-Oscar feted, A Man For All Seasons, to drunken patsy and terrible spouse, in 10 Rillington Place, to the shockingly gaunt Emperor Caligula in the greatest BBC miniseries of all time, “I, Claudius.” Even though the actor always looked older than his actual age, he was just getting started.
All of this was before that iconic scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien (and Hurt was deprecating enough to re-enact it as a comedy bit in Mel Brooks Spaceballs, nearly a decade later). Later came memorable roles David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, Stephen Frears (deeply underrated) The Hit, and his iconic Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hellboy, Harry Potter, “Dr. Who”, Snow Piercer, The Proposition and several collaborations with Jim Jarmusch and Lars Von Trier demonstrate that the man had one hell of a career in front of the camera; on screens in the arthouse and the multiplex.
The man was outspoken and forthright in his own public life, by all accounts. In short, he is one of those prolific, truly great actors.
You can still see him in the cinema, right now he as a significant supporting role in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. And has several pictures in post production, including Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour, where he plays infamous British PM Neville Chamberlain.
Character actor extraordinaire, from cocky Bob Morden in Robocop to assholish-sweetheart Agent Rosenfield in Twin Peaks to batshit crazy Snyder in Deep Star Six, Miguel Ferrer was an unpredictable ball of energy in whatever scene he happened to steal in whatever film or TV show he popped up in. In fact, he does this quite literally in Hot Shots: Part Deux.
The 61 year old actor was struck down by the Big C today.
Son of legendary actor Jose Ferrer (who also worked for David Lynch as the Padishah Emperor in 1984s Dune), and famous singer Rosemary Clooney (which makes him cousin to George Clooney), Miguel Ferrer’s legacy of dozens upon dozens of memorable roles will remain to be discovered for folks who happen to catch him in, say, an episode of Magnum P.I., or an officer in Star Trek III, or hear his distinctive voice in dozens of animated shows and feature films.
Miguel Ferrer will reprise his role as Albert Rosenfield in the 2017 season of Twin Peaks.