Remembering much-loved actor Harry Dean Stanton
One of American cinema’s most familiar faces, Harry Dean Stanton, passed away on 15 September, aged 91. Though never a leading man (partly through choice), over a career spanning 63 years he built up a formidable CV by following advice given to him by Jack Nicholson: “He told me not to do anything – just let the wardrobe do the acting.”
Stanton brought his laconic, laid-back style to several significant roles in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. In Alien he helped ground the story’s fantastical events in a relatable world as blue-collar cynic/ man-of-few-words Brett. Stanton was also key to the cult appeal of Alex Cox’s Repo Man, playing Bud, the mentor teaching Emilio Estevez’s kid the rules of the car repossession business: dress like a detective, take speed, always be packing. He was also a favourite of John Carpenter, for whom he portrayed scientist Brain – an old buddy of Snake Plissken – in Escape From New York, and a police detective in Stephen King adaptation Christine.
A regular collaborator with David Lynch, Stanton was most recently seen on screen in the revived Twin Peaks, returning as trailer park owner Carl Rodd. Lynch paid tribute by describing him as, “A wonderful man, kind and full of humour”, adding that, “He was also a great actor.” For anyone familiar with Stanton’s work, that went without saying.