Actor Fred Ward of ‘Thriller’, ‘Right Stuff’ fame dies

NEW YORK — Fred Ward, the veteran actor who brought the gritty tenderness to tough-guy characters in films such as “The Right Stuff,” “The Player” and “Thriller,” has died . He is 79 years old.

Ward died Sunday, his publicist Ron Hoffman said Friday. The cause or location of death was not disclosed, according to the wishes of the family.

Ward won a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival General Award for his performance in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” and starred in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” He also reached new heights as Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in the 1983 Academy Award-nominated film The Right Stuff.

“Very saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Fred Ward,” tweeted actor Matthew Modine, who co-starred with Ward on “Short Cuts” and Alan Rudolph’s Equinox. “The tough exterior hides a Pacific-like emotion. Friends of Speed.”

Ward, a former boxer, Alaskan lumberjack and short-term cook serving in the U.S. Air Force, is a San Diego native and part Cherokee. An early major role was alongside Clint Eastwood in 1979’s “Escape from Alcatraz.”

Actor Kate Mugloo tweeted: “I’m saddened by the loss of Fred Ward, who was so kind to me when we worked together on ‘Remo Williams’. “Decent and humble.” , very professional, he disarmed with a warm and mischievous smile.”

Ward’s other roles include hunting down a psychotic criminal played by Alec Baldwin in George Armitage’s “Miami Blues.” For Freddie Prinze Jr.’s role in “Summer Fishing” and David Spade’s lead role in “Joe Dirt” come Said, he was an intimidating and intimidating father.

Ward played President Reagan in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller The Farewell, and had a supporting role in the 2013 action film Two Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

In the horror comedy “Thriller,” Ward and Kevin Bacon play a pair of repairmen who end up saving a barren Nevada desert community surrounded by giant underground snakes.

With the sexy NC-17 “Henry and Joan,” Ward showed more than courage. Based on Anais Nin’s book and directed by Philip Kaufman, Ward plays novelist Henry Miller, opposite Nin and his wife June. “My ass seems to be related to (that rating),” he told The Washington Post.

He also reunited with Altman, taking on the role of head of studio security in director’s 1992 Hollywood satire “The Player,” and as union activism in Mike Nichols’ “Silk Forest” in 1983 Home and Meryl Streep’s colleagues.

Ward showed off his comedic performance in 1994’s Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Last Insult, in which he played the terrorist intent on blowing up the Academy Awards.

On the small screen, he played Mora Tierney’s Abby Lockhart’s father on NBC’s “ER” from 2006 to 2007, and guest starred in “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Leverage” and series such as “Tara America”. Ward recently appeared on HBO’s “True Detective” season two as the retired police father of Detective Colin Farrell. Ray Vicolo.

Ward leaves behind his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward.

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