Academy Award nominated actor Robert Forster died Friday at the age of 78 from brain cancer, Variety reports. Forster’s long and storied career had two peaks: He entered nearly at the top, making his first film appearance alongside Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor in 1967’s Reflections in a Golden Eye, earning counterculture credibility in Haskell Wexler’s 1969 film Medium Cool, and landing the lead role on a Quinn Martin detective show, Banyon. But Banyon didn’t last a season, and neither did Nakia, in which Forster played the title role, a Native American deputy. By the early 1980s, Forster’s career had nearly sputtered out, with Disney’s The Black Hole and the 1980 alligator-in-the-sewers movie Alligator as the punctuation mark separating his early career from less reputable fare like Satan’s Princess, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, and Point of Seduction: Body Chemistry III. But in 1997, he earned a career revival and an Oscar nomination when Quentin Tarantino cast him as bail bondsman Max Cherry in 1997’s Jackie Brown. Forster’s melancholy eyes and easy chemistry with Pam Grier were the heart of the movie:
Jackie Brown got Forster out of the Sargasso, and memorable appearances in everything from Mulholland Dr. to London Has Fallen followed. But his greatest post-Jackie Brown performance was in Twin Peaks: The Return as Sheriff Frank Truman, the brother of the sheriff played by Michael Ontkean on the original show. Ontkean had retired by the time Twin Peaks was rebooted, so Forster did the acting for both of them:
A minor role towards the end of Breaking Bad’s run meant Forster shows up in El Camino, the Netflix-produced epilogue that was released on Friday. Forster might have liked the fact that he had a new performance in front of audiences on the day he died: He was never precious about his work. For a 2011 AV Club “Random Roles” interview, he reminisced about appearing in a 1981 sex comedy eventually released under the title The Kinky Coaches and the Pom-Pom Pussycats:
That was a high-school football comedy, and I had a pretty small part in it, but it was up in Montreal, and it was summertime, so it was nice. I remember Montreal being a beautiful place with nice people. I enjoyed being there. I remember thinking, “Boy oh boy, a job like this doesn’t come along every day.” And I remember I needed the money. Well, I always needed the money: I had four kids and two exes. [Laughs.] So I had to take jobs, so I took ’em.
Forster directed one feature, Hollywood Harry, which he independently produced, starred in (with his daughter Kate Forster in the sidekick role), and sold to distributors at Cannes in 1985 by personally handing out promotional buttons:
Forster was the kind of actor who could unexpectedly pop up in anything, which Spanish actor and Robert-Forster-resembler Antonio Mayans used to his advantage, billing himself as “Robert Foster” in 1980s films like Aberraciones Sexuales de una Mujer Casada. Mayans’ movies briefly ended up on Forster’s IMDb page, much to his dismay. But for all the bizarre and unlikely projects on Forster’s résumé, at least one project on his IMDb page is still misattributed. He is credited as the executive producer of a single episode of Knight Rider: “Knight Sting,” from the show’s fourth season, in which KITT is disguised as Dean Moon’s Moonliner in an attempt to recover a biological weapon. In fact, that episode, like all the other episodes of Knight Rider, was executive produced by Robert Foster. But Jackie Brown is all his. Forster is survived by his partner Denise Grayson, four children, and four grandchildren.