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He Struggled in Acting for Decades. Then Came Tarantino

Character actor Robert Forster died of brain cancer after a brief illness at the age of 78
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2019 6:00 AM CDT
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In this March 18, 2013, file photo, Robert Forster arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Olympus Has Fallen" at the ArcLight theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Robert Forster, the handsome character actor who appeared in the Twin Peaks reboot, earned an Oscar nod for his turn in Jackie Brown, and who most recently appeared in the Breaking Bad sequel El Camino, has died at the age of 78, the AP reports. His publicist confirms Forster died of brain cancer after a short illness at his Los Angeles home Friday, surrounded by family. The Hollywood Reporter notes Forster didn't even initially plan on being an actor: When he was attending the University of Rochester with the hopes of becoming a lawyer, he followed a classmate he wanted to meet into an auditorium where auditions for Bye Bye Birdie were taking place. Not only did he earn himself a place in the chorus of that production, he ended up marrying the classmate, June Provenzano. In 1965, a year after he graduated, he landed a role in the Broadway show Mrs. Dally Has a Lover.

Next came his film debut in Reflections in a Golden Eye, starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. During the '70s and '80s, Forster acted in a slew of not-memorable films. "I was taking whatever fell through the cracks," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2018. At his lowest point, he says he told himself, "You're not dead yet, Bob. You can win it in the late innings." It was Tarantino who helped resurrect his career: In a 2018 Fandor interview, Forster recalls how he'd tried out for Reservoir Dogs; he didn't get a part, but Tarantino created Max Cherry in 1997's Jackie Brown just for him. Forster said his career after that was "fabulous," appearing in such films as Mulholland Drive, The Descendants, and El Camino, and in TV series like Twin Peaks, Breaking Bad, and the Tim Allen show Last Man Standing, playing Allen's father. Forster is survived by his partner, Denise Grayson; four children; and four grandchildren. (Read more obituary stories.)

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