Robert Forster dies at 78

Co-stars remember much-loved character actor

by Jennie Kermode

Robert Forster in Alligator. "Oh, boy, that's a favourite of mine."
Robert Forster in Alligator. "Oh, boy, that's a favourite of mine."

Robert Forster, best known for his role as the bail bondsman Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino classic Jackie Brown, died yesterday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from brain cancer but until recently was still managing to work and had been hoping to catch up with his co-star from that film, Pam Grier.

His death occurred on the same day that Netflix launched his final film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, in which he reprised a one-off character from the popular TV series. He first met star of the series Bryan Cranston when they worked together on monster movie classic Alligator in 1978, describing him today as "a lovely man and a consummate actor," and adding "I'll never forget how kind and generous he was to a young kid just starting out in Hollywood."

Over the course of his career, Cranston appeared in over 120 full length films, several shorts and numerous popular TV series, including Police Story and Murder She Wrote, as well as lending his vocal talents to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His hangdog looks made him a favourite to play long-suffering police officers, as he dd in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, which he originally got on board with when it was intended to become a series. More recently, he worked with Lynch on series three of Twin Peaks.

Forster. who originally planned to pursue a career in law, became an actor by accident after wandering into an audition with a friend and being cast. Roles in the highly acclaimed films Reflections In A Golden Eye and Medium Cool followed, but he suffered a mid-career slump in which he could get only B-movie roles, crediting Tarantino with rescuing him and making the later years of his working life hugely enjoyable. For a man who believed in simply trying to make the best of what he could get, he leaves a remarkable legacy.

Forster is survived by his partner of 16 years, Denise Grayson, his children Bobby, Elizabeth, Kate and Maeghen, and four grandchildren.

Paying tribute today, Jackie Brown co-star Samuel L Jackson described him as "a truly class act."

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