M. Emmet Walsh, Iconic Genre Actor, Dead At 88

By Britta DeVore | Published

m emmet walsh

Hollywood has lost another legendary actor as M. Emmet Walsh has passed away at 88 years old. The actor, who is most recognized for his character performances in films like Blade Runner and Christmas with the Kranks, suffered from a cardiac arrest on Tuesday, according to his manager, Sandy Joseph. Living in Vermont, Walsh was rushed to a hospital in the town of St. Albans on Tuesday before his passing on Wednesday.

Born In Vermont

A Vermont native, M. Emmet Walsh grew up along the great Lake Champlain in the village of Swanton, Vermont, with his family close by during his early years.

With a natural zest and talent for acting, Walsh would leave his small-town life behind and strike out to study at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

A perfect example of never giving up on one’s dreams, the performer put his nose to the grindstone and worked as hard as he could to break into the business.

Early Feature Films

After appearing in smaller capacities throughout his 20s and 30s, in recognizable titles like Midnight Cowboy and Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the actor would finally get his big break in 1978’s Straight Time, in which a 40s-something E. Emmet Walsh was featured alongside Dustin Hoffman.

The actor’s work on the film earned him widespread praise and even caught the eye of then-upcoming director Ridley Scott, setting him up on a trajectory of success over the next few years.

Role In Blade Runner

M. Emmet Walsh

Just as impressed as the rest of the industry was with M. Emmet Walsh’s work, Ridley Scott cast him in his 1982 legendary sci-fi flick, Blade Runner, in which the late actor appeared as the police captain and boss of Harrison Ford’s retired officer.

Walsh’s character played a pivotal role in the film’s plot. He was responsible for pulling Ford’s character out of retirement and back into the business of catching cyborgs. 

Makes A Career

M. Emmet Walsh

Showing no signs of slowing down and an ability to jump in and out of every genre under the sun, the year after Blade Runner, M. Emmet Walsh joined Meryl Streep in Mike Nichols’ biographical film, Silkwood.

The movie was a nail-biting story of lies, deceit, and a whistle-blower with Walsh’s demeanor and talent perfectly suited for such a tale. It was during Silkwood’s filming in Dallas that he would get the call to lead in the first movie to come from the revered Coen brothers.

Fargo And The Big Lebowski

M. Emmet Walsh

At the time, Joel and Ethan Coen weren’t quite as revered as they are these days, having now bagged award after award for titles including Fargo and The Big Lebowski. After seeing M. Emmet Walsh in Straight Time, the duo knew they needed to add him to the call sheet for their directorial debut in Blood Simple.

The actor’s involvement in the production was an understandable gamble but it was a good one to take as he previously commented that the movie made him a more sought-after performer and allowed him to charge more for his talents.

Acted Much Of His Life

M. Emmet Walsh

In more recent years, audiences have seen M. Emmet Walsh in features including Knives Out and The Immaculate Room, as well as in TV shows such as The Righteous Gemstones and American Gigolo. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the late actor’s loved ones.

Source: AP News