‘Tremors,’ ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ Star Dies at 79

Fred Ward.
Chris Pizzello/AP/Shutterstock

A lost star. Fred Ward — best known for his roles in Sweet Home Alabama, TremorsAnd The Right Stuff — has died at the age of 79.

According to his obituary, the actor died on Sunday, May 8. The cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices,” the tribute read. “He could play such diverse characters as Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey) to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who, alongside Kevin Bacon, battle giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in ‘cult’ horror/comedy film, Tremors(1990) or a detective in an indie filmTwo small bodies(1993) Directed by Beth B., an underground filmmaker or terrorist who planned to blow up Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), or the father of the lead character in Jennifer Lopez’s revenge thriller Enough (2002), or The Major, a pizza delivery guy in Danny McBride’s overbearing ex-Marine father in 30 Minutes or Less (2011).”

His wife is the survivor of the late Golden Globe winner. Marie-France WardHe married his wife in 1995 and he has a son. DjangoHe shared his ex-wife with, Silvia Ward. The actor is not only known for his Hollywood achievements, but he is also a great friend. United States of Tara alum “spent the last years of his life developing his second favorite art form: painting,” per his obituary.

The former United States Air Force member most recently appeared in season 2 of HBO’s True Detective, portraying Eddie Velcoro the father of Detective Ray VelcoroColin Farrell). He has previously appeared in recurring roles Grey’s AnatomyAnd ERAfter a brief hiatus in the mid-2000s, he returned to acting.

While his list of credits is lengthy, the late star’s performance in 2002’s Sweet Home AlabamaFan favorite. Fred appeared alongside Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick DempseyAnd Jean Smart in the beloved film, playing the father of Witherspoon’s character, Melanie. Even years after its release, rom-com lovers are still eager for a sequel — and so are some of the stars.

“I’ve even reached out to Reese, and I know Reese has said as well — it’s an iconic film,” Lucas, 50, told Access LiveJuly 2018. “I would love it because I would love to see where these characters ended up or where they are at this point in their lives.”

Before Sweet Home Alabama, the former boxer drew critical acclaim for his work in 1990’s Henry & June. The film followed Henry Miller (the author), who found himself in a Parisian love triangle in 1931 with his spouse.Uma Thurman) and another writer (Maria de Medeiros). It was the first NC-17 film that was released in theaters. This movie is also one of only three NC-17 movies ever to be nominated for an Oscars nomination.

“My rear end seemed to have something to do with [that rating],” Fred joked during a 1990 interview with The Washington Post noting that he and his fellow stars “thought we were shooting an R-rated film.”

Though it was racy, playing the literary icon was “a dream role” for the veteran. “He was 40 when he took that big leap,” he said of Miller. “Most people are digging themselves deeper into their structures. He was a man who knew that he had to follow his inner urge, creativity, and passion. Or he would die bitter.”

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