NEW YORK (AP) – Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff tenderness to tough-guy roles in films like “The Right Stuff”, “The Player” and “Tremors”, is dead. Hey what 79.
Ward died on Sunday, his press officer Ron Hofmann said Friday. No cause or place of death was revealed according to the wishes of the family.
Ward won a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival ensemble award for his performance in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” and played the title character in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins”. He also reached new heights playing Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in the 1983 Academy Award-nominated film “The Right Stuff.”
“Devastated to learn of the death of my friend, Fred Ward,” tweeted actor Matthew Modine, who co-starred with Ward in “Short Cuts” and Alan Rudolph’s Equinox. ” like the Pacific Ocean. Good luck amigo. “
Former boxer, Alaskan lumberjack, and short-range cook who served in the US Air Force, Ward was originally from San Diego and partly Cherokee. One of his first major roles was opposite Clint Eastwood in 1979’s “Escape From Alcatraz”.
“I mourn the loss of Fred Ward, who was so kind to me when we worked together on ‘Remo Williams’,” tweeted actress Kate Mulgrew. “Decent and modest and utterly professional, he disarmed with a smile that was both warm and mischievous.”
Ward’s other roles included a rumpled cop chasing a psychotic criminal played by Alec Baldwin in George Armitage’s “Miami Blues.” He was a formidable and intimidating father to both Freddie Prinze Jr.’s character in “Summer Catch” and David Spade’s title character in “Joe Dirt”.
Ward played President Reagan in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller “Farewell” and had a supporting role in the 2013 action film “2 Guns,” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
In the horror comedy “Tremors,” Ward teamed up with Kevin Bacon to play a repair couple who end up saving a Nevada desert community that is beset by giant underground snakes.
With the sexually charged NC-17 “Henry & June”, Ward showed more than just grit. Based on the book by Anais Nin and directed by Philip Kaufman, Ward portrayed novelist Henry Miller, alongside Nin and his wife, June. “My butt seemed to have something to do with (that assessment),” he told the Washington Post.
He also teamed up again with Altman for the part of a studio security chief in the director’s 1992 Hollywood satire “The Player” and played a union activist and workmate of Meryl Streep in Mike Nichols’ “Silkwood” in 1983. .
Ward proved his comedy skills by playing a terrorist intent on blowing up the Academy Awards in “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” in 1994.
On the small screen, he had recurring roles on NBC’s “ER” as Maura Tierney’s Abby Lockhart father in 2006-2007 and has starred in series such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Leverage” and “United States of Tara”. Ward most recently appeared in the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” as the retired cop father of Colin Farrell’s Detective Ray Velcoro.
Ward is survived by his 27-year-old wife, Marie-France Ward and his son, Django Ward.