Actor Morgan Paull passed away Tuesday, July 17th, at the age of 67.
The name Morgan Paull might not be instantly familiar to most of you (though there are certainly those out there who know him). He was a veteran character actor, and though he appeared in movies like Patton, and TV shows like Quincy, Black Sheep Squadron, and The Fall Guy, he was never what you would call a movie star or a household name.
If you frequent this site, however, odds are you’re familiar with at least one memorable scene from the man’s canon. Paull had a very memorable part early on in Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner. Paull played Holden, who famously asks the replicant Leon (Brion James) about turtles before being killed. A scene you can watch right here.
Though Holden turned out to be one of Paull’s most memorable roles, it wasn’t a part he was supposed to play. Originally he was hired to read lines with a group of actresses during screen tests. He said, “Halfway through the tests, Ridley fell in love with me. He wanted me around all the time. He cast me as Holden, and whenever he had an idea, he’d say, ‘Hey, Morgan, what do you think of this?’”
It was during these screen tests that Paull recommended Daryl Hannah for the role of Pris, and that Scott should pass on Sean Young as Rachel. You know how that turned out.
Much like his role in Blade Runner, Paull came to acting in a roundabout fashion. Falling in love with the profession after a turn in a high school play, he attempted to attend Boston University to continue honing his craft—a move his wealthy West Virginia family blocked. He joined a the Barter Theater in Virginia, where Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, and Ernest Borgnine famously cut their teeth, and appeared on and off Broadway before his film career began in earnest.
Paull is almost as famous for his role in Screen Actors Guild politics as for his acting career. Along with Charlton Heston, he attempted to steer the organization in a more conservative direction in the 1980s.
Paull is survived by legions of friends, and a family that includes children, grandchildren, and his longtime companion Jenny Elam.