Fred Ward, known for his roles in “Tremors” and “The Right Stuff,” has died!
Fred Ward, a seasoned actor known for his gruff sensitivity to tough-guy characters in films like “The Right Stuff,” “The Player,” and “Tremors,” has passed away. He was 79.
Ward died on Sunday, according to his spokesman Ron Hofmann. The family requested that neither the reason nor the location of death is revealed.
Ward won a Golden Globe for his portrayal in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” and shared the Venice Film Festival ensemble prize, and he also played the titular character in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.
” In 1983’s Academy Award-nominated picture “The Right Stuff,” he ascended to new heights as Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom.
“Devastated to learn of the demise of my buddy, Fred Ward,” actor Matthew Modine, who co-starred with Ward in Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox” and “Short Cuts,” tweeted. “A rugged exterior hides emotions as deep as the Pacific. Good luck, amigo.”
Ward, a San Diego native who was half Cherokee, was a former boxer, Alaskan lumberjack, and US Air Force short-order chef. In 1979’s “Escape From Alcatraz,” he had a prominent part with Clint Eastwood.
“I’m saddened by the passing of Fred Ward, who was so wonderful to me on ‘Remo Williams,'” actress Kate Mulgrew tweeted. “He disarmed with a smile that was both warm and cheeky, decent and humble and absolutely professional.”
In George Armitage’s “Miami Blues,” Ward plays a rumpled detective hunting a crazed criminal played by Alec Baldwin. Both Freddie Prinze Jr.’s character in “Summer Catch” and David Spade’s titular character in “Joe Dirt” had a powerful and scary father.
Ward starred alongside Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller “Farewell” and had a minor part in the 2013 action film “2 Guns.”
Ward starred alongside Kevin Bacon in the horror comedy “Tremors” as a pair of repairmen who save a hardscrabble Nevada desert village plagued by huge subterranean snakes.
Ward showed more than grit in the sexually heated NC-17 film “Henry & June.” Ward played author Henry Miller alongside Anais Nin and his wife, June, in this film based on Anais Nin’s book and directed by Philip Kaufman.
He told The Washington Post, “My rear end seemed to have something to do with (that grade).”
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He also appeared as a studio security head in Robert Altman’s 1992 Hollywood comedy “The Player,” and as a union organizer and Meryl Streep’s coworker in Mike Nichols’ 1983 film “Silkwood.”
Ward’s comedic abilities were on display in 1994’s “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult,” in which he played a terrorist intent on blowing up the Academy Awards.
He had recurrent appearances on “ER” in 2006-2007, portraying the father of Maura Tierney’s Abby Lockhart, and guest featured on shows including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Leverage,” and “United States of Tara.”
Ward most recently starred as the retired cop father of Colin Farrell’s Detective Ray Velcoro in HBO’s “True Detective” second season.
Ward is survived by his son Django Ward and his 27-year-old wife Marie-France Ward.