The brilliant character actor Miguel Ferrer has passed away at the age of 61.
Variety reports that the star of Twin Peaks, Robocop, The Stand and many, many more films and TV shows died on Thursday, leaving behind a legacy of unforgettable characters.
Few actors are as gifted at playing morally dubious characters with such humanity. Even his slimiest, sleaziest characters seemed to understand their situation perfectly, as Ferrer consistently ensured that he was always the most interesting person in the scene. He made authority figures questionable, he made you root for crooks, and he made sure you listened to every word he said.
He started out in music before moving into acting, with early guest roles on shows like Magnum, PI, TJ Hooker, Cagney And Lacey and CHiPs, and popped up in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.
One of his most iconic roles came in 1987, when he played the ruthless yuppie board member Bob Morton in Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop. Like many of Ferrer’s greatest characters, Bob is sleazy, amoral and out for himself, but dammit, you can’t help but root for him as he thrills at the possibility of getting the best law enforcement machine on the streets. “I love this guy!”
Ferrer is arguably best-known for his role as Albert Rosenfeld on Twin Peaks, the incredibly terse coroner that Cooper vouches for but Sheriff Truman can’t stand. It’s an incredible performance, as Ferrer plays that “No bullshit, no heart” Fed to an almost ludicrous degree before revealing just why the adorable Agent Cooper holds him in such high esteem.
“Now you listen to me,” he snarls at Truman. “While I will admit to a certain cynicism, the fact is that I am a naysayer and hatchetman in the fight against violence. I pride myself in taking a punch and I’ll gladly take another because I choose to live my life in the company of Gandhi and King. My concerns are global. I reject absolutely revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method… is love. I love you Sheriff Truman.”
“Albert’s path is a strange and difficult one,” muses Cooper, as Albert leaves the room.
Genre fans will also know him from his excellent work on Stephen King adaptations The Stand and The Night Flier. In the former he played Lloyd Henreid, one of Randall Flagg’s few self-aware aware henchpeople, understanding that he’s on the wrong side and unable or unwilling to leave, and in the latter he played the amoral tabloid journalist Richard Dees, making the most of a rare leading role as a ghoulish man relentlessly pursuing a ferocious monster.
He worked with filmmakers like John Sayles, Steven Soderbergh and Shane Black, and starred in series including NCIS: Los Angeles, Crossing Jordan and Desperate Housewives. His incredible voice was used to great effect on animated shows including Adventure Time, Superman, Jackie Chan Adventures, and Young Justice.
Ferrer will appear in the Twin Peaks revival series, and we’re glad that we’ll get to see him return to that incredible character. It’s very sad indeed that we won’t be able to see him create any more.