Fred Ward, star of ‘The Right Things’, ‘Tremors’, dies at 79

Fred Ward, who starred in films such as Henry & June, Tremors, The Right Stuff and The Gambler, died on May 8, his publicist confirmed. Diversity. He was 79.

There was a certain retro quality to the actor’s portrayal that made Ward seem more like Humphrey Bogart or John Garfield (albeit not quite with those actors’ level of charisma) than his contemporaries, and it didn’t seem affected at all. He looked like the kind of guy who comes from South Chicago or Hell’s Kitchen, but he was actually from San Diego.

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Most recently, Ward appeared in the second season of HBO’s True Detective as Eddie Velcoro, a retired cop father of Detective Colin Farrell. Ray Velcoro.

In 2006-2007, he appeared on NBC’s ER as Maura Tierney’s father Abby Lockhart, and appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara.

The actor played President Reagan in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller The Farewell, directed by Christian Karion, and also played a supporting role in the 2013 action film 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

In Don Siegel’s Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Ward and Jack Thiebaud played prisoner brothers who, along with Clint Eastwood’s Frank Morris, devised a clever and daring alleged escape from the Rock. (The bodies of the three men were never found, so it is not clear if they actually escaped or simply drowned in San Francisco Bay.) The film was far more interested in the mechanics of the escape than in the development of the three prisoners as characters. .

Ward brought his trademark grit to the plucky and intelligent astronaut Gus Grissom in the 1983 film The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s epic story about the start of the space program. Perhaps due to the fact that Grissom eventually died in the service of NASA (he was the commander of the Apollo 1, but before its launch on February 21, 1967, the interior of the command module caught fire, and all three on board died) , viewers were especially sensitive to this. image in “Correct Material”. The film chronicles an incident with a Project Mercury spacecraft in which the emergency blast bolts went off after splashdown and ripped out the hatch, causing the ship to flood. A NASA investigation cleared Grissom of the incident, but the way it was portrayed in The Right Stuff suggests that Ward’s Grissom panicked and fired explosive bolts as a result.

In Ron Underwood’s horror comedy Tremors, one of several films that propelled Ward’s career and released in 1990, Ward and Kevin Bacon showcased incredible chemistry as a pair of handy people who end up saving an impoverished Nevada desert town when the city is destroyed. surrounded by giant subterranean snakes, not unlike the sandworms from Dune. Tremors only earned $16 million, but garnered huge love from moviegoers on cable and home video and spawned four sequels. The Washington Post wrote: “As handymen, Bacon and Ward make a good team. Ward, who didn’t quite get to play superhero Remo Williams, has the tough looks and good humor of a friendly desperate man, while Bacon continues to push beyond his glamorous roots and prove himself as an actor.”

In Alec Baldwin’s bizarre but morbidly violent Miami Blues car, Ward played a sergeant. Hawk Moseley, a police officer chasing Baldwin’s sociopath Fred Frenger. Roger Ebert wrote: “Actors fight their roles courageously. Baldwin, who is good at playing a scout, is not as good here as an ex-con who is out of his mind. Ward does a better job with the police sergeant; in movies like this one and the underrated UFO, he sits back, takes everything into account and plays a cynic who will only really bother you if you really bother him.”

Later that year, Henry & June was released, giving Ward the opportunity to shine as an actor in a way that he simply couldn’t before. In director Ward Philip Kaufman’s The Right Things, based on the book by Anais Nin, the actor played the renegade novelist Henry Miller, who pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in the study of sexuality in his works. The film depicts the intellectual and psychosexual dynamic between Miller, his wife June (played by Uma Thurman) and the erotically involved French writer Nin in Paris in the early 1930s.

Diversity stated, “The lead roles of Fred Ward as the cynical, life-loving Miller and Maria de Medeiros as the beautiful and insatiable Anais perfectly embody the director’s intent.”

Critics and moviegoers ended 1990 with the feeling that Ward was a charming actor with more range than previously thought.

He then starred as Det. Harry Philip Lovecraft in the intriguing HBO film Cast the Killing Spell, set in 1940s film noir Los Angeles, where supernatural powers are rampant. David Warner and Julianne Moore also starred in the film, which the Chicago Tribune described as “hugely successful”, stating that “screenwriter Joseph Dougherty came up with a menacingly charming setting.”

In Robert Altman’s 1992 Hollywood satire The Gambler, Roger Ebert said that the director surrounds Griffin Tim Robbins with “odd characters who seem to be rolling into L.A. like the continent is on a roll: Whoopi Goldberg as Pasadena.” a police detective who finds Griffin funny, Fred Ward as a studio security chief who has seen too many old Dragnet episodes, Sydney Pollack as a lawyer who does for the law what Griffin does for movies, Lyle Lovett as a sinister figure lurking behind the outskirts of many gatherings.”

Also in 1992, Ward appeared in the Alan Rudolph film Equinox.

In the 1993 film Two Small Bodies, Beth B.’s two-handed film based on the play, Ward and Susie Amis play the entire film. The New York Times wrote, “Two Small Bodies is a focused, tense drama about a woman whose young son and daughter go missing and a detective who thinks she might have killed them. Few actors are capable of making a film with two characters, but Susie Amis and Fred Ward are among the few who can. Eileen Maloney and Lieutenant Brann engage in a stylized dance that is antagonistic, sexy and unsettling as it reveals the dark impulses behind their apparent social roles. The best part of the film is watching Ms. Amis and Mr. Ward, who are endlessly captivating as they find emotional and psychological upheaval beneath the calm surface of their characters.”

In Altman’s 1993 film Shortcuts, based on stories by Raymond Carver, Ward was among the men whose fishing trip is interrupted when they discover a dead body in the river.

Ward next played a terrorist intent on blowing up the Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Last Insult (1994).

Freddie Joe Ward was born in San Diego. He served three years in the Air Force, after which he became interested in acting and studied at the Herbert Berghof studio in New York. Ward then traveled to Europe, where he helped dub Italian films into English.

He made his screen debut in 1973 in the mini-series Medici Age directed by Roberto Rossellini. He had a small role in Ginger in the Morning (1974) starring Monte Markham, Susan Oliver and Sissy Spacek. After a small role in Tilt (1979) starring Brooke Shields, Ward tried his first significant film role in Escape from Alcatraz that same year.

Ward, along with Powers Booth and Keith Carradine, starred in Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort (1981), in which a group of arrogant National Guardsmen, whose guns are loaded with blanks, go into a Louisiana river, where they annoy Cajuns who know the territory well. . Despite the all-too-obvious Vietnam metaphor, it was an effective thriller.

The following year, he landed his first starring role in the cult classic Timerider, in which he played Lyle Swann, an off-road motorcycle racer (in a bright red leather biker suit) who is accidentally sent back on a science experiment to the Old West. replete with villains and female distractions. The film did little for Ward’s career as fans came to know about it later on cable and home video.

Reviewing the 1982 film for The Verdict DVD in 2001, Patrick Knogle wrote, “Time Rider is full of colorful and funny performances. Fred Ward is an underused and underrated actor, an ordinary person who can carry on dialogue with a new twist that works for many of his characters. Here Ward plays Xuan as a laid-back racer, a guy who just wants to get home with as little trouble as possible due to his surroundings.”

After The Right Stuff, he had minor roles in Silkwood as a deadpan Native American “loving to tell demeaning Indian jokes”, according to critic Glenn Erickson, and in Goldie Hawn’s World War II film Swing Shift. ”, in which he played a rough-hewn nightclub owner with whom Christine Lahti’s character is having an affair.

Ward also appeared in Out of Limits, starring Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines as military detectives in Saigon during the Vietnam War looking for a sadomasochistic killer. Diversity said, “Fred Ward is especially good as the partners’ chief, master sergeant. Dix.

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), released after The Right Deed, was an attempt to turn Ward into an action star, but was heavily panned, and the film’s domestic gross was only $14 million. But while he never became an action star, many of his best roles were yet to come.

Ward was married twice, to Sylvia Ward and Marie-France Ward. He left a son, Django, from his first marriage.

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