Advertisement

M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Blood Simple’ Actor, Dies at 88

M. Emmet Walsh, a veteran character actor who appeared in more than 150 films including “Blade Runner,” “Blood Simple” and “Knives Out” and played Dermot Mulroney’s dad in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” has died.

His manager Sandy Joseph confirmed that he died Tuesday in Vermont. He was 88.

In Ridley Scott’s 1982 “Blade Runner,” Walsh was Harrison Ford’s LAPD boss, while he played the vicious private detective Loren Visser in the Coen brothers’ directing debut “Blood Simple.” Wearing a sickly yellow suit, Pauline Kael said he was the film’s “only colorful performer. He lays on the loathsomeness, but he gives it a little twirl — a sportiness.”

His other roles included the corrupt sheriff in the 1986 horror film “Critters” and a small role as a security guard in “Knives Out.”

Walsh appeared in a string of memorable 1970s films, including “Little Big Man” with Dustin Hoffman, “What’s Up, Doc?” with Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand, “Slap Shot” with Paul Newman and “The Jerk” with Steve Martin.

The prolific actor with the hangdog face and trademark paunch went on to appear in “Fletch,” “Back to School,” “Raising Arizona” and “Twilight.”

Film critic Roger Ebert created the “Stanton-Walsh Rule,” which held that no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad, though he admitted it wasn’t an infallible rule.

Raised in Swanton, Vermont, Walsh made his debut in movies in “Alice’s Restaurant” in 1969.

He was also active on TV, appearing in “Sneaky Pete,” “The Mind of the Married Man” and guesting on dozens of series including “Frasier,” “The X-Files,” “NYPD Blue” and “The Bob Newhart Show.”

He was also in demand as a voice actor, narrating Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” and “Baseball” documentaries and lending his voice to “The Iron Giant” and “Pound Puppies.”


Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.