Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fred Ward, Bit Actor

Yes, I put Fred Ward (b. 1942) squarely in the Bit Actor category.  He doesn't seem to get starring roles, but he is usually at the top of the cast list. 

He started out in 1973 in a few small parts in TV movies, then got a break in Escape from Alcatraz in 1979 starring Clint Eastwood.  He made a coupla movies working with Gary Busey (b. 1944), Jodie Foster (b. 1962) and Keith Carradine (b. 1949) before getting his big role as Gus Grissom (1926 - 1967) in The Right Stuff (1983).  He then was in two more hit movies, Silkwood and Uncommon Valor, released the same year. 

In 1985 he had the title role in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  The adventure actually ended there as well, as no sequels were made, only a TV show which was the pilot for a series that was never made.  His co-star was Joel Grey (b. 1932) which may be part of the reason this action series didn't keep going.  Joel Grey in an action film?  Did they include singing and dancing?  An interesting note, Roddy McDowall (1928 - 1998) played the Joel Grey role on TV.

1990 and he has another good part, and one that shows off his versatility, in Tremors with Kevin Bacon (b. 1958).  Through the 1990s he has quite a few good (not great) movies, including Thunderheart (1992) and Chain Reaction (1996), then another big movie in 2002, Sweet Home Alabama

Ward also made an interesting mix of Hallmark Channel type films.  Movies like Birdseye (2002), Funky Monkey (2004), Feast of Love (2007), and The Wild Stallion (2009) seem to fit in this genre...wholesome, sometimes funny, family movies.  And there is nothing wrong with that, although the money isn't so good. 

He breaks that image in Armored (2009) starring Matt Dillon (b. 1964) and Jean Reno (b. 1948).  I think we will see Fred Ward well into his later years, just as we still see James Garner who is still working at 82 years old.  Fred is an exceptional Bit Actor.


  1. Love Fred Ward. I grew up watching Remo Williams. He is a quintessential character actor of the past 30 years.

  2. I'm not sure where I was in 1985 when Remo was released, but I didn't see it. Maybe it would be a choice for Netflix, but my queue is about 100 DVDs at this point!


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