M. Emmet Walsh, Character actor of Blade Runner and Blood Simple, Passed Away at 88

M. Emmet Walsh, Character actor of Blade Runner and Blood Simple, Passed Away at 88

©Courtesy of Don Mckay film.

One of the best character actors in contemporary American cinema, M. Emmet Walsh, passed away last Tuesday in  Vermont at the age of 88. The news has been given by his manager Sandy Joseph. He was born on March 22, 1935 in Ogdensburg, New York.

Active since the late ‘60, M. Emmet Walsh has acted in more than 150 movies, working with many of the most important directors like Arthur Penn (Alice’s Restaurant, Little Big Man), Peter Bogdanovich (What’s Up, Doc?), Sidney Lumet (Serpico), Robert Redford (Ordinary People, The Milagro Beanfield War), Mike Nichols (Silkwood), Sydney Pollack (Random Hearts). He shared the screen with stars like Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Harrison Ford and many others.

In the early ‘80 M. Emmet Walsh has become a cult actor thanks to his participation in two of the best movies of the decade: he’s been Harrison Ford’s LAPD boss in Blade Runner by Ridley Scott and the corrupted private detective Loren Visser in Blood Simple, first movie directed in 1984 by Joel and Ethan Coen. The final showdown between the “villain” Walsh and the protagonist Frances McDormand is without doubt one of the best sequences in the entire Coen Brothers’ career. About his performance in Blood Simple the film critic Pauline Kael wrote he was the film’s “only colorful performer. He lays on the loathsomeness, but he gives it a little twirl — a sportiness.” 

Even the legendary Roger Ebert paid his personal tribute to M. Emmet Walsh and created the hilarious “Stanton-Walsh Rule”: no movie in which Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh acted could be altogether bad. 

The last movie M. Emmet Walsh participated is Outlaw Posse, starred and directed by Mario Van Peebles, which arrived in theaters just this month. 

Check out more of Edward’s articles. 

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