Fred Ward, who starred in movies such as Tremors, Henry and June, and Miami Blues has passed away at the age of 79. Ward was known for being a stalwart character actor and sometimes leading man, known for his rugged appearance and everyman demeanor. His last role was in 2015, where he played the father of Colin Farrell’s character in True Detective’s second season.
Fred Ward had an interesting start to his Hollywood career. After doing a few years of service in the Air Force, he decided to move to New York and study at Herbert Berghof Studio. After studying at the studio, he moved to Europe where he would perform the English dubs for Italian films. He would go on to do a few small roles on-screen before making a name for himself in 1979’s Escape from Alcatraz. Ward played a convict who teamed up with his brother, played by Jack Thibeau, and a man named Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) to escape from the prison island of Alcatraz. Ward would go on to do more movie roles after his big debut, with one of the most notable and beloved being Tremors.
In 1990’s Tremors, Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon played two handymen who save a Nevada town from giant underground snakes. The movie was decidedly not a box-office success, but it found a huge second life as a cult classic film that ended up getting six sequels and a TV series. While this is one of Ward’s most well-known roles, there are many more of his films that are worth checking out.
One of his best roles can be found in Henry & June. The movie was directed by Philip Kaufman and based on the book by Anais Nin. Fred Ward played Henry Miller, a novelist who was known for his pushing the boundaries of sexuality in his work. The film followed the relationship of Miller with his wife June, played by Uma Thurman. The movie allowed Ward to show his range and do a role that wasn’t quite what he was known for.
1990 ended up being a banner year for Fred Ward’s career, as Tremors and Henry & June were both released. Tremors showed Ward’s comedic side and created a long-running series that fans would love while Henry & June really allowed Ward to flex his acting talent. To top it off, Miami Blues was also released in 1990. While this may have not been as well-liked as the other two, it was still a solid performance from Ward as the cop to Alec Baldwin’s unhinged ex-con.
Fred Ward would go on to play a wide range of roles throughout the late 90s and early aughts. He has been on TV shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy, and The United States of Tara while also doing film roles in movies like Joe Dirt, The Player, and many more. Ward will undoubtedly be missed in Hollywood for the reliable character acting he always brought to his roles. Ward is survived by his wife Marie-France and his son Django.