Michael Parks, Beloved Character Actor, Star of ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Twin Peaks,’ Dead at 77
It’s been a rough week (it’s only Wednesday), and things just got a little more upsetting: Michael Parks, the incomparable character actor best known for his roles in Twin Peaks, Kill Bill and From Dusk Till Dawn, has passed away at the age of 77. Kevin Smith broke the news this morning on Instagram, where he shared a tribute to the star of his horror films Tusk and Red State.
The cause of Parks’ death remains unknown, though Smith delivered the news via Instagram this morning. Smith paid tribute to the beloved character actor, rightfully noting, “He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for” — including Smith, who featured the actor in two of his recent horror films, both of which benefitted greatly from Parks’ compelling performances.
Parks began his career in the ’60s, appearing in classic shows like Gunsmoke and Perry Mason before landing the lead on the short-lived series Then Came Bronson. Parks’ theme song for the series, “Long Lonesome Highway,” rose to the #20 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and also served as the title of one of three albums he recorded for MGM Records.
But Parks is best remembered for his latter work, including his recurring role as Jean Renault on the David Lynch series Twin Peaks. Parks also starred in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn as Sheriff Earl McGraw, a role he reprised for Grindhouse and Kill Bill: Volume 1. Quentin Tarantino was so fond of the actor that he had him play an entirely different part in Kill Bill: Volume 2, this time as Esteban Vihaio, and later gave Parks a small supporting role in Django Unchained.
Parks’ recent career also included roles in the films The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Argo (in which he played iconic comic book artist and writer Jack Kirby), and the American remake of the Mexican horror film We Are What We Are.
The actor’s last role appears to have been in Hostiles, the upcoming film from director Scott Cooper starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Jesse Plemons.