Known for his deep voice, and his no-BS kind of characters, actor Robert Wallace Forster Jr., or simply “Robert Forster” was born in Rochester, New York on July 13th 1941. Today he would have celebrated his 79th birthday. He passed away on October 11th, 2019 at the age of 78 after a battle with brain cancer. He was a tremendous actor, who’s career spanned several decades. He worked alongside brilliant actors like Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson, and worked under amazing directors like Quentin Tarantino. Now let’s take a look at his career, and what he accomplished.
Pre and Early Career:
Before making it big, Robert started acting in high school, where he would star in musical plays. He would continue to pursue acting throughout college, where he studied psychology, backed by a football scholarship.
After college, Robert would continue to star in plays after moving to New York City, his big break being Mrs. Dally has a lover” ( 1965 ) where he played one of the two main characters. Afterwards he struggled to find theatre work, so he moved back to Rochester and temporarily stopped acting, until he was offered the small part of Pvt. L. G. Williams in the movie Reflections in a Golden Eye ( 1967 ), where he starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando. The same year he played Tony in an episode of the original N.Y.P.D. ( not the one with Jimmy Smits ).
Jackie Brown/ Tarantino:
In 1997 Robert recieved his first and last Oscar nomination, Best Actor for a Supporting Role, for his portrayal of Max Cherry in the Tarantino directed Rum Punch adaptation “Jackie Brown”. Starring alongside Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. Playing Max Cherry gave Robert a well deserved career revival, after having been typecasted as a villain for 13 years. As he said himself, “I used to be a good guy in my career, but from the time I did Delta Force, where I played a terrorist. I’ve been a bad guy. I haven’t played a good guy since”.
All of that all changed as soon as he starred in Jackie Brown. Robert would later make an appearance in the 2019 Tarantino documentary QT8: The First Eight. A documentary about the first eight films of Tarantino’s career. Though Robert had only ever starred in one Tarantino film, he was also tested for the part of Vincenzo Coccoti in the Tarantino written film, True Romance ( 1993 ), whose role eventually went to Christopher Walken, and audtioned to play Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs ( 1992 ) which Tarantino gave to Lawrence Tierney instead.
Breaking Bad Universe:
In 2013 Robert Forster played Ed Galbraith, in Breaking Bad’s semi-finale “Granite State”, which won him the Saturn Award for “Best Guest Perfomance in a Television Series”. He would later reprise his role in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Film, which was released on Netflix the day he died. While filming El Camino, Robert filmed a brief cameo in Better Call Saul’s first episode of season five, titled:”Magic Man”.
Voice Over Work/ Animation:
Though not Forster’s main work by any means, Robert Forster has still done some voice actng in noteable projects:
- 1997-Todd McFarlane’s Spawn – Major Forsberg, 3 episodes
- 2000-Godzilla: The Series, Jack Chapman – Police Officer, 1 episode
- 2005-Justice League: Unlimited – The President, 2 episodes
- 2008-The Simpsons – Lucky Jim, 1 episode
- 2014-2015-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Jack Kurtzman, 4 episodes
- 2015-The Adventures of Biffle and Shooster – James Burk
Other famous works of Robert Forster include:
- Olympus & London Has Fallen – General Edward Clegg
- Avalanche – Nick Thorne
- Thick As Thieves Lt. Weber
- Twin Peaks – Sherrif Frank Truman
- Me, Myelf and Irene – Colonel Parlington
- Psycho ( 1998 ) ( the remake ) – Dr. Simon
- Lucky Number Slevin – Murphy
- Alligator – David
- Walker, Texas Ranger, 2 episodes – Lane Tillman & Ricky Rickettes
- Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle – Roger Wixon
- CSI New York, 1 episode – Joe Vincent
- & The Black Hole – Captain Dan Holland
According to ImdB, Robert Forster currently has only film scheduled for release, “The Werewolf” where he plays Sherrif Hadley, investigating a series of murders happening every full moon. Robert Forster will also have appearences in upcoming documentaries: American Badass: A Michael Madsen Retrospective, Sammy LaBella: The Real Skip E. Lowe, Bowery Rhapsody: The Rise and Redemption of Hollywood’s Original ‘Brat Pack’ and Bad IQ.
Though not the most famous actor, in my opinion Robert Forster was a terrific, underrated naturalistic actor, who even when his parts were only small and contained within a few scenes such as in The Descendants ( 2011 ) or Acts of Vengeance ( 2017 ), his character was often one of, if not the most memorable character in the whole movie, just becuase, as cliche it may sound, he had “it” this kind of believability to him. Though he may not play overly complicated characters, or play in scenes that have him screaming around delivering all kinds of emotionional monologues, he always delivered. Every single time.
Not only a terrific actor, he was also known for being an extreemly generous, kind, down to Earth man and a beloved Father. Robert Forster, rest in Peace.
“Today the world is left with one less gentlemen. One less square shooter. One less good man. One less wonderful father. One less marvelous actor. I remember all the breakfasts we had at silver spoons. All the stories. All the kind words. All the support. Casting Robert Forster in ‘Jackie Brown’ was one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. I will miss you dearly my old friend. Bye bye Max. Bye bye Miles. Bye bye Bob”-Quentin Tarantino
“I am heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of Robert Forster. My god. I had the privilege of knowing this beautiful man and working along side of him. A true gentleman that loved to act. I love you my friend. Thank you for loving me. You are and always will be a legend”-Aaron Paul
“RIP Robert Forster!! A truly class act/ Actor” -Samuel L. Jackson
“So sorry to hear of the passing of Robert Forster. A wonderful actor and person. My condolences to his family. Rest In Peace my friend”-Gary Sinise
“Oh, Dear Robert – Beloved by all of us in our community of actors. Remembering our classic poker nights at Norby’s: We’d joke ‘We’ll bury our friends and one day it will be me.’ Today is your day. Fly with the angels dear friend. Blessings” -Frances Fisher
“So sad to hear of Robert Forster’s passing. Am of the right age to have been obsessed by The Black Hole (I even had an action figure of Capt. Holland) and Alligator. Then I was just wowed by him in Jackie Brown. He’s also heartbreaking in recent What They Had. A great actor. RIP” -Edgar Wright
“So very sad at Roberts passing, he was a gift to me personally and a emotional part of our show. Prayers and condolences to his beautiful wife and family” -Tim Allen
“Robert Forster wasn’t only one of the best people I’ve ever known in the industry, he was one of the best people I’ve known anywhere” -James Gunn
“Had the honor of making this little gem of a movie (Diamond Men) with this incredible gem of a man — Robert Forster. Truly one of the kindest, most giving actors/human beings that I’ve ever worked with, and forever a dear friend. He’ll be missed.”-Donnie Wahlberg
“I’m saddened today by the news that Robert Forster has passed away. A lovely man and a consummate actor. I met him on the movie Alligator (pic) 40 years ago, and then again on BB. I never forgot how kind and generous he was to a young kid just starting out in Hollywood. RIP Bob” -Bryan Cranston
Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons. Photo belongs to Gage Skidmore. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Forster_(6855556940).jpg Liscense- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en