Fred Ward, the veteran character actor best known for his diverse roles in “Tremors,” “The Right Stuff” and Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” has died. He was 79.
A rep for the “Exit Speed” star confirmed to The Post that he died last weekend.
“I am sad to announce the passing of acclaimed actor Fred Ward, who passed away on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at age 79,” the statement read.
“The Golden Globe winner, actor and producer is best known for ‘The Right Stuff,’ ‘Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,’ ‘Tremors,’ ‘Miami Blues,’ ‘Henry & June,’ ‘The Player’ and ‘Short Cuts.’”
Ward’s rep Ron Hofmann told The Post his cause of death would not be revealed at this time — but they did share his last wishes:
“It was Fred Ward’s wish that any memorial tributes be made in the form of donations to the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center. Please visit https://bit.ly/BUSMCTE or contact 617-358-9535 for more information.”
Ward spent the last years of his life developing his second favorite art form: painting, his rep said.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward and his son Django Ward.
News of his passing circulated Friday on Twitter with Rolling Stone editor Alan Sepinwall calling out Ward’s beloved cult status.
“RIP, Fred Ward, a great character actor whose big shot at leading man status, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, unfortunately flopped, but who kept giving great, lived-in performances for the rest of his career,” he wrote.
Film critic Robert Daniels also shared condolences, writing: “Fred Ward was absurdly good. A professional in everything he did from TREMORS to THE PLAYER. He could even turn in a great performance is something as patently dumb as JOE DIRT. Totally underrated.”
Ward began his career in 1979 alongside Clint Eastwood as his jailbreak buddy in “Escape from Alcatraz.” Before his breakout role, the San Diego native performed in cabarets in Europe and Northern Africa, Turner Classic Movies reported, before making his way to Los Angeles, where he supported himself by selling jewelry on the street.
After his “Alcatraz” success, he went on to star in action comedies such as “Southern Comfort” (1981), “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann” (1982) and “Uncommon Valor” (1983).
Walter Hill’s “Southern Comfort” (1981), a creepy tale of macho part-time National Guardsmen facing peril in the Louisiana bayou; “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann” (1982), wherein he played a motocross bike racer transported to the Old West; and “Uncommon Valor” (1983).
After working in television throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he landed a role alongside Kevin Bacon in “Tremors” and starred in its sequel, “Tremors 2: Aftershocks.” He also starred in fan favorites such as “Exit Speed,” “The Punisher,” “Joe Dirt” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Ward also starred in “Miami Blues” (1990) alongside co-stars Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh and played Jennifer Lopez’s long-lost father in 2002’s “Enough.”
His latest buzzy role was two episodes of hit HBO series “True Detective.”