The prolific and charismatic character actor Robert Forster passed away on Friday at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family members. After a brave battle with brain cancer, he died at the age of 78. Forster received critical acclaim for his performance as the bail bondsman Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 crime drama Jackie Brown—a role for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

Appearing in over 100 films over the course of five decades, the rugged actor’s varied roles started with an appearance alongside Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1967 film Reflections in a Golden Eye; he portrayed the father of a comatose mother in The Descendants; a detective in Mulholland Drive; a colonel in Me, Myself & Irene; and a vacuum repairman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. His television roles include playing the father of Tim Allen’s character in the comedy Last Man Standing and Sheriff Frank Truman in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return.

Tarantino, who created Forster’s Jackie Brown role specifically for him, released a heartfelt statement after the loss of his friend and colleague. He wrote: “Today the world is left with one less gentlemen. 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.” Forster emphatically described his role in Tarantino’s film as “life changing.” Indeed, playing Max Cherry revived his career after a lengthy period in which he resorted to roles in films like Satan’s Princess.

The Netflix epilogue El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was released on Friday, the day of Forester’s death. Upon hearing the news of his co-star’s passing, Bryan Cranston tweeted, “I’m saddened today by the news that Robert Forster has passed away. A lovely man and a consummate actor. I met him on the movie Alligator (pic) 40 years ago, and then again on BB. I never forgot how kind and generous he was to a young kid just starting out in Hollywood. RIP Bob.”

Aaron Paul likewise paid tribute to his Breaking Bad co-star, saying: “I am heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of my dear friend Robert Forster. My god. I had the privilege of knowing this beautiful man and working alongside of him. A true gentleman that loved to act. I love you, my friend. Thank you for loving me back. You are and always will be a legend.”

During an interview with Larry Mantel, the late Forster shared the advice he imparts to up-and-coming actors: “I always remind actors: Everything counts. It doesn’t  matter what you’ve done; it all counts. I’ve been a dishwasher, I’ve been a waiter, I worked on the railroad, I’ve done a lot of different things—it all counts. Every single time you go out there for any director, try to deliver a great shot because moviemaking is not a whole movie at a time; it is individual, discrete shots [that are] the fundamental unit[s] of filmmaking. Each shot you start at zero. You’ve got to learn new material, dialogue that you didn’t know before, and when you get to the set, you learn the motion of the shot. It’s like learning a magic trick. And when you hear ‘Action,’ you’ve got to deliver this magic trick as beautifully as you can so that when you get to ‘Cut,’ you hear ‘Print’—move on!”

Later this year, two more of Forster’s projects will be released: Amazing Stories by Steven Spielberg and Werewolf.

Robert Forster is survived by his partner of 15 years, Denise Grayson; his children Bobby, Elizabeth, Kate, and Maeghen; as well as four grandchildren.

 

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