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R.I.P. Acting Legend Michael Parks Has Died

We’re incredibly sad to report today that actor/singer Michael Parks, who most recently owned the screen in Kevin Smith’s Red State and Tusk, has just passed away at the age of 77.

Younger audiences may remember Michael Parks from his work with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, but his acting career dates back all the way to 1960, beginning with two appearances on the TV series “Zane Grey Theater.” Parks popped up in countless TV shows throughout the ’60s, making his film debut as the title character in 1965’s Bus Riley’s Back in Town. On the small screen, he’s perhaps most known for playing the free spirited Jim Bronson in the TV series “Then Came Bronson,” which aired for just one season between 1969 and 1970.

Michael Parks as Earl McGraw in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’

Into the ’70s and ’80s, Michael Parks starred in Between Friends, “Baretta,” “Fantasy Island,” Dial M for Murder and The Return of Josey Wales, and he later played Jean Renault in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.” But Parks was introduced to an entirely new generation when he played Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in From Dusk Till Dawn, a memorable role he reprised in both Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2, as well as in Grindhouse films Planet Terror and Death Proof – Quentin Tarantino has stated on the record that Parks was the greatest living actor of his time.

Parks’ more recent appearances were in the films The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Argo, We Are What We Are, and the aforementioned Red State and Tusk. Kevin Smith paid tribute to his friend on Facebook today, echoing Tarantino’s sentiments:

I hate to report that my cinematic muse Michael Parks has passed away. Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known. I wrote both Red State and Tusk FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much. He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set. From the moment I saw him steal the opening scene of From Dusk Till Dawn at an advance screening at the Sunset 5 back in the mid-90’s, I said to Scott Mosier, “Could you imagine what it must be like to work with a Yoda of acting like that guy? I gotta write for him one day.” It took me 15 years but my dream came true on Red State – for which Parks won Best Actor at the Sitges Film Festival – and then again years later with Tusk.

Only Michael Parks could have delivered the line “Is man indeed a walrus at heart?” and make it scary as fuck. My favorite memory of Michael is watching him and Johnny Depp act with and at each other, like a couple of dueling wizards, in their shared scene in Tusk. Parks was in Heaven that day, sharing the screen with another brilliant actor and creating an unforgettable performance. He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for. I was so fucking blessed to have worked with this bonafide genius. But really, I was just lucky to have known him at all.

My heart goes out to James (Michael’s son), Oriana (Michael’s wife), Quentin Tarantino (Michael’s biggest fan) and any movie or music lover who was ever dazzled by the talents of Michael Parks. Farewell, old friend. I’ll see you farther along…

All of us here on BD send our deepest condolences to Parks’ family and friends.

Michael Parks in Kevin Smith’s ‘Red State’


16 Comments
  • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

    Goddamn. Another cool person gone. R.I.P

  • jackstark211

    Fuck…. I loved this guy.

  • tbaio

    I really liked him….small actor always put in a huge performance. I 1st saw him in a television movie called The China Lake Murders where as the villain, he was a calm & frightening presence. Been a fan of him ever since. Condolences to his family & friends.

    • Dagon Cleo Macready

      I remember China Lake Murders as well. Tom Skerritt was top billing but Parks stole the show.

  • Dr. Acula

    nobody remembers him from nightmare beach one of the best horror films of all time…

  • Flyingguillotine

    He was fantastic in RED STATE and TUSK.

    • Runciter

      yeah.
      it’s weird for two reasons:
      1. I’ve seen the guy in multiple movies before, but somehow never realized how talented he was until these two.
      2. they are Kevin Smith movies! nobody can have a good performance in a Kevin Smith movie! well, Rosario Dawson had, but still.

  • shawn lawson

    Awwww…….This one stings. Thank you for all your amazing characters. You will be missed.

  • Christian

    ”Never did like that son of a bitch. About as useless as a pecker on a pope.” – Rest In Peace, Mr Parks.

  • The chicken man

    Great actor, huge loss. Will be missed!

  • Travis Ignaffo

    Seems like the horror community is losing all our favorite actors and actresses lately it sucks.

  • Flyingguillotine

    Perhaps…? I think both films are flawed in their own ways, but I find them enjoyable, especially TUSK, which I appreciate for its dark weirdness.

  • dsxy

    Take kevin smith instead!

  • HalesTales

    “Get me some sweet tea, won’t ya, baby?” This REALLY hurts. I’m in 100% with Quentin and Kevin in their praise of Michael’s acting chops. He’ so inspiring and absolutely perfect. You leave behind an awesome legacy, sir. R.I.P.

  • Travis_Bickle

    I didn’t see this on any other news network. That’s messed up. We can talk about Trump farting onto a sandwich all day, but when people who are useful to society die, nobody hears about it.

  • hiiiiii

    cant Donald trump die instead of these awesome people?

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