M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blood Simple’ and ‘Blade Runner’ Actor, Dies at 88

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M. Emmet Walsh, who excelled when playing characters that brought a delightfully menacing presence to films such as Blade Runner and Blood Simple, has died at the age of 88.

His longtime manager Sandy Joseph confirmed his death, and said he died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday in St. Albans, Vermont, per AP.

While Walsh would go on to play numerous supportive roles throughout his career, he took on a rare leading role as private detective Loren Visser in then-unknowns Joel and Ethan Coens’ 1984 film Blood Simple. The Coen brothers said that they wrote the role for Walsh in their directing debut — the actor would go on to win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead for the part.

In a 2011 profile of Walsh by the L.A. Weekly, the actor was described as a “consummate old pro of the second-banana business, Walsh has left his mark on 109 movies and counting, with the grin of that big bastard who stands between you and something else — and knows it.”

Walsh garnered over 230 acting credits on his IMDb, and would shine in roles that exposed the grittier side of humanity, featuring opposite Harrison Ford as vicious LAPD boss in Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, a shady lumber merchant in Brubaker (1980), and an amoral police chief in 1986 horror film Critters.

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He would also take on smaller roles such as the security guard in Knives Out and Dermot Mulroney’s father in My Best Friend’s Wedding. When remembering the actor, Knives Out director Rian Johnson shared a touching memory: “Emmet came to set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a small-type single spaced double column list of modern classics that filled a whole page, & two-dollar bills which he passed out to the entire crew.” He said that Walsh would quip, “Don’t spend it and you’ll never be broke,” adding that he was an, “Absolute legend.”

In the piece with the Weekly, Walsh shared his approach to acting. “If they bring me in there, against Redford or Newman — I don’t care who the hell it is — if they bring me in there, it’s basically to help the movie,” he said. “You hit the ball to me, and I hit it back to you. It’s a tennis match. That’s what makes great theater or great anything.”



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