Fred Ward, rugged character actor from 'The Right Stuff' and 'Tremors,' dies at 79

Christie D’Zurilla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

When “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins” came out in 1985, L.A. Times film critic Jack Mathews called Ward “the most interesting action star to emerge from the movies this year.” The actor had signed on for three “Remo Williams” movies but made only the one.

Not long after that, Ward had a small but memorable role in the 1988 comedy “Big Business,” playing Roone, the hunky country-bumpkin love interest of Lily Tomlin’s characters.

Ward also executive-produced a film, “Miami Blues,” released in 1990. He had bought the rights to the source material, Charles Willeford’s book of the same name, a few years earlier. The movie, which starred Ward alongside a young Alec Baldwin, finally got made after director-screenwriter George Armitage wrote the script on spec and Jonathan Demme came onboard as supervising producer and guardian angel.

“The dark humor really appealed to me. And this random, abrupt violence,” Ward told The Times when the “Miami Blues” was released.

“It can be funny and then sink into this ugly place,” he added. “It reflects my view of the world.”


Ward’s resume also included a number of TV appearances on shows including “True Detective,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER.” In his later years, with more than 80 film and TV credits under his belt, Ward explored painting, a hobby his publicist called the actor’s “second favorite art form.”

“Devastated to learn about the passing of my friend, Fred Ward,” tweeted actor Matthew Modine. “I had the absolute pleasure of working with this wonderful man in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts and Alan Rudolph’s Equinox. A tough facade covering emotions as deep as a the Pacific Ocean. Godspeed amigo.”

Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward.


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