RIP Michael Parks: Hollywood’s most underrated actor?

Michael Parks in 2014Image copyright
Getty Images

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In the 1960s, Michael Parks was touted as the “new James Dean”

Michael Parks, who was named by directors Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith as one of their favourite actors, has died at the age of 77.

Smith broke the news, describing Parks as “the best actor I’ve ever known” and “the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform”.

Smith cast him in Red State and Tusk, while he appeared in both of Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.

Tarantino described him in 1997 as “one of my favourite actors in the world”.

Parks made his name on US TV in the 1960s and with film roles including Adam in director John Huston’s 1966 epic The Bible: In the Beginning…

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Parks (centre) with producer Dino de Laurentiis (left) and director John Huston on the set of 1966’s The Bible

He had the lead role in TV series Then Came Bronson in 1969-70 – which Tarantino described as “the most naturalistic acting I’ve ever seen on a TV show”.

He was likened at the time to James Dean – but never had a major breakthrough and his career faded.

There were suggestions that he was shunned by Hollywood studios – which has been attributed to him speaking out about the violence in Then Came Bronson, a contract dispute with Universal, or being difficult to work with.

Something of a career revival began when David Lynch cast him as Jean Renault in the second season of Twin Peaks, which aired in 1990.

‘A true legend’

His other film credits included Django Unchained, Grindhouse, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Argo.

Director Robert Rodriguez, who cast him in From Dusk Till Dawn, said in 2011: “He was always considered to be the actor who should replace James Dean when James Dean passed, and his naturalism was just amazing to watch.”

Responding to the news of Parks’s death, Rodriguez wrote on Twitter: “A heartfelt farewell to the one and only Michael Parks. A very kind man and a true legend.”

In his Instagram tribute on Wednesday, Kevin Smith added: “He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for. I was so… blessed to have worked with this bona fide genius.”

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RIP Michael Parks: Hollywood’s most underrated actor?

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