Harry Dean Stanton, the actor with a gaunt, bedraggled look who laboured in virtual obscurity for decades until a series of roles increased his visibility, including his breakthrough in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Friday aged 91.
The actor was also known for his roles in Twin Peaks, Big Love, Pretty in Pink, and Repo Man.
He had a high-profile role as manipulative cult leader Roman Grant on HBO polygamy drama Big Love, which ran from 2006-11, and recently appeared as Carl Rodd in the Twin Peaks revival on Showtime.
His most recent film, Lucky, about an atheist who comes to terms with his own mortality, is set to be released by Magnolia on Sept. 29.
Related David Lynch on Harry Dean Stanton: ‘He Was a Great Actor and a Great Human Being’.
Thank you for being our Prophet, Harry Dean Stanton.
With big love, HBO. pic.twitter.com/2WQJHPJw3b
— HBO (@HBO) September 16, 2017
In 1984, when he turned 58, he not only starred in the Wenders’ Paris, Texas — his first role ever as leading man — but in Alex Cox’s popular cult film Repo Man.
Paris, Texas, penned by Sam Shepard, was the darling of the Cannes Film Festival, capturing not only the Palme d’Or, but other juried awards as well. Stanton played Travis, who reconnects with his brother, played by Dean Stockwell, after being lost for four years. Stanton’s performance in the film was not so much powerful as it was intriguingly, sometimes hauntingly, absent.
Roger Ebert said, “Stanton has long inhabited the darker corners of American noir, with his lean face and hungry eyes, and here he creates a sad poetry.”
Harry Dean Stanton had the best line in CHRISTINE: "I'm selling' this shithole and buyin' a condo." Rest in peace, HD. You were great.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) September 15, 2017
In the cheerfully bizarre Repo Man, he played the boozy repo-biz veteran who takes young punk Emilio Estevez under his wing but provides at-best nebulous guidance: “The life of a repo man is always intense.”
In 1986, Stanton hit the mainstream when he played Molly Ringwald’s unemployed father in Pretty in Pink. Later in the 1980s he played a fiery Paul/Saul in Martin Scorsese’s controversial 1988 effort The Last Temptation of Christ, but the actor was among those in the film criticised by many as miscast.
— Variety (@Variety) September 15, 2017
Later film roles included a pair of David Lynch films in the early 1990s, Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; Bob Rafelson’s Man Trouble with Jack Nicholson; The Mighty, with Gena Rowlands and Sharon Stone; The Green Mile; Sean Penn’s The Pledge; Nick Cassavetes’ Alpha Dog; and Lynch’s Inland Empire.