Beloved character actor from ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Blood Simple’ passes away at 88 – You won’t believe his iconic roles!

LOS ANGELES – M. Emmet Walsh, the character actor who brought his unmistakable face and haunting presence to films like “Blood Simple” and “Blade Runner,” has died at age 88, his manager said Wednesday.

Walsh died of cardiac arrest Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, his former manager Sandy Joseph said.

The portly, ham-faced Walsh often played good guys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare starring roles as a corrupt Texas private eye in the Coen brothers' first film, the neo-noir 1984 “Blood Simple.”

Joel and Ethan Coen said they wrote the role for Walsh, who would win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for the role.

Critics and film fans enjoyed the moments he appeared on screen.

Roger Ebert once observed that “no movie with Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be all bad.”

Walsh played a crazed sniper in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy “The Jerk” and a prostate examining doctor in the 1985 Chevy Chase vehicle “Fletch.”

In the gritty 1982 film “Blade Runner,” a film he said was grueling and difficult to make with perfectionist director Ridley Scott, Walsh plays a tough police captain who brings Harrison Ford out of retirement to hunt cyborgs. .

Born Michael Emmet Walsh, his characters made people believe he was from the southern United States, but he could hardly have been from further north.

Walsh grew up on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canada border, where his grandfather, father, and brother worked as customs agents.

He attended a small local high school with a graduating class of 13, then Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

He performed exclusively on stage, with no intention of doing otherwise, for a decade, working in stock societies and summer repertoire.

Walsh slowly began making film appearances in 1969 with a small role in “Alice's Restaurant,” and did not begin playing prominent roles until nearly a decade later, when he was in his 40s, making his breakthrough with 1978’s “Straight Time.” , in which he played Dustin Hoffman's petulant and rude parole officer.

Walsh was filming “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep in Dallas in the fall of 1982 when he received the offer for “Blood Simple” from the Coen brothers, then aspiring filmmakers who had seen and loved him in “Straight Time.”

“My agent called me with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. “It was a Sydney Greenstreet-type role, with a Panama suit and hat. I thought it was kind of fun and interesting. “They were 100 miles away in Austin, so I went there early one day before filming.”

Walsh said the filmmakers didn't even have enough money left to take it to New York for the opening, but he would be surprised if first-time filmmakers had produced something this good.

“I saw it three or four days later, when it premiered in Los Angeles, and I thought, Wow!” he said. “Suddenly my price went up five times. I was the boy that everyone wanted.”

In the film he plays Loren Visser, a detective who is asked to follow a man's wife and then paid to kill her and her lover.

Visser also serves as narrator, and the opening monologue, delivered in a Texas accent, included some of Walsh's most memorable lines.

“Now, in Russia they have planned it so that everyone supports everyone else. At least that's the theory,” says Visser. “But what I know is Texas. And down here you are alone.”

He was still working into his 80s, making recent appearances on the television series “The Righteous Gemstones” and “American Gigolo.”

And his more than 100 film credits include director Rian Johnson's 2019 family murder mystery “Knives Out” and director Mario Van Peebles' western “Outlaw Posse,” released this year.

Johnson was among those to pay tribute to Walsh on social media.

“Emmet came to the set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a double-column, single-spaced list of modern classics in small print that took up an entire page, and two-dollar bills that he handed out to the entire crew.” Johnson tweeted. “'Don't spend it and you'll never be broke.' “Absolute legend.”

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