The incredible character actor Michael Parks has passed away at the age of 77. Parks was a genre stalwart, getting his start on television in the early 1960s. He was one of the most enjoyable actors of his era. Here are just a few of our favorite performances from the always dependable actor.
Parks was always good at being a creepy villain. One of his best takes on this type was in Twin Peaks as Jean Renault. Jean wanted vengeance on Dale Cooper for the death of his two brothers. Parks played the part with a quirky but always unsettling demeanor. considering that the second season of Twin Peaks was a bit of a step down from the first, Parks was definitely one of the better parts of the show’s second stretch.
Death Wish V: The Face of Death
Even though this would end up as the final entry in the Death Wish series, it went out on a high note as far as its villain was concerned. Parks played Tommy O’Shea, a mobster who would eventually cross paths with series hero Paul Kersey. Parks is delightfully 0ff-kilter in the role, bringing a lot of jerky swagger to a character that could have been a throwaway baddie. Just goes to show that Parks could elevate almost anything he was in.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Most fans will recognize Michael Parks as the character of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. The character would go on to appear in multiple films from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (more on that in a bit), but this is where he got his start. The opening sequence with his character is a blast… literally, since the store he’s in blows up by the end. This isn’t Earl’s best appearance, but it’s his first and we’re damn sure happy he stuck around.
Red State and Tusk
Okay, so these two Kevin Smith films are not good. but, Michael Parks yet again stands out as the best thing in them. He plays similarly delusional characters in each one and he’s a blast in them. Honestly, the movies are worth sitting through just for him. He’s the perfect combination of hilarious and terrifying. If you only watch one, go for Tusk. He’s so ridiculously unhinged in that film but also manages to be bizarrely sympathetic. But you can’t go wrong with either.
Everything He Did with Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino has a knack for taking older actors and introducing them to a new generation. He did that masterfully with Michael Park. Parks would show up yet again as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Death Proof, and also as the gleefully icky Esteban Vihaio in Kill Bill Vol. 2. He had a small but fun role in Django Unchained as well. You could tell that Tarantino loved Parks and wanted to give him enough scenes to light up the screen for a new era of fans. He certainly did just that.