Beloved and iconic character actor Harry Dean Stanton has passed away at the age of 91 according to agent John S. Kelly.
“Stanton, whose gaunt, worn looks were more recognizable to many than his name, appeared in more than 100 films and 50 television shows” according to CNN. You may recognize him from “Twin Peaks,” including the most recent remake, “Repo Man” and “Alien.” Rogert Ebert once wrote, in 1989, that “no movie featuring…Harry Dean Staton…in a supporting role can be altogether bad,” which is pretty high praise.
He was often type-cast as the haggard man with a battered soul, according to Turner Classic Movies. “A restless, unconventional spirit off-camera, Stanton always lnet a sympathetic realness to the menacing criminals and barroom-dwelling outsiders he stashed beneath his craggy face and wiry, worn frame.”
David Lynch called him a great human being in addition to a great actor. “There’s nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone loved him.”
A documentary about the actor came out in 2012 and Lynch asked Stanton “how would you like to be remembered” to which Stanton replied “it doesn’t matter” in his characteristic cshort-winded fashion. The film, “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” also features recently deceased Sam Shepard who said that “Stanton realized his well-lined face was ‘the story.’”
He used to resent the roles he was typically cast in but he later said he understand why they were the ones he got. “I hated being typecast in those roles. It was personally limiting, only playing stereotyped heavies. But I got those roles because I was angry, because that’s what I projected… and I had an extreme lack of self-confidence.”
He adopted “Eastern mysticism” and credited that with making him more self-aware and less angry.
Born in Kentucky in 1926, Stanton turned 91 in July. While he served in the navy and attended the University of Kentucky, he didn’t graduate because he said he “didn’t like being ordered around” at least not, according to him, until he discovered acting. “I eventually found out that I didn’t mind being ordered around at all when it was by someone who knew what he was doing.”
He was cast in his first Hollywood film, after first having toured with a children’s theater based in New York, in the mid-1950s. He started out as a background player. “He appeared in many memorable films,” however, like “Pretty in Pink,” “The Godfather : Part II,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” and “The Green Mile.”
His career spanned more than 60 years. He and his face will certainly be missed.