Robert Forster obituary: Jackie Brown and Breaking Bad actor dies aged 78

Robert Forster Showtime's TWIN PEAKS TV series premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 19 May 2017

Robert Forster, the experienced character actor, has died at the age of 78.

His publicist confirmed his passing yesterday after a recent battle with brain cancer.

Born in New York, Forster stumbled into acting when he landed a role in his school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. Coincidentally, this was where he would meet his future wife who happened to be auditioning for the same show.

In 1967, he made his cinematic debut in the John Huston-directed film Reflections in a Golden Eye, which also starred Oscar-winning legends Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. This was then followed by roles as TV reporter John Cassellis in Medium Cool (1969) and as priest Gregory Lind in Pieces of Dreams (1970).

Forster would spend most of his career playing tough guys with one of them being as Los Angeles detective Miles Banyon in the Warner Bros crime series Banyon (1971-73). However the next 25 years proved frustrating as he consistently worked in mostly forgettable B-movies.

His fortunes would soon change in 1997 when he was cast as bail bondsman Max Cherry in the Quentin Tarantino-caper Jackie Brown. The role landed Forster his sole Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor though he would lose out on the award to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting.

After appearing in the underwhelming remakes of Hitchcock classics Rear Window (1998) and Psycho (1998), Forster would show up in a variety of roles in recognisable films from the Millennium onwards.

These included Colonel Partington in Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Roger Wixon in Charlies Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Harry Romano in Firewall (2006), Murphy in Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Scott Thorson in The Descendants (2011) and as General Edward Clegg in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and its sequel London Has Fallen (2016).

He also got to work with David Lynch on two of his greatest productions; the first as Detective McKnight in the noir-drama Mulholland Drive (2001) and the second as Sheriff Frank Thurman in the recent Twin Peaks revival (2017).

Additionally, Forster popped up in a number of memorable television shows over the past twenty years including Desperate Housewives (2007), The Simpsons (2007), Heroes (2007-08), Divorce (2016) and as Tim Allen’s cantankerous dad Bud Baxter in the hit sitcom Last Man Standing (2012-18).

Finally, it is worth remembering his brief but crucial role as Ed Galbraith in Breaking Bad’s penultimate episode Granite State (2013). Nicknamed the Disappearer, he would help both Walter White and Saul Goodman get new identities and move on to pastures new.

Ed would also play a key part in the Breaking Bad spin-off El Camino which (eerily) was released on the same day as Forster’s death. Fittingly, the character was on hand to help Jesse Pinkman start a new life in Alaska.

Forster is survived by his partner of 16 years and his four children.

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