Michael Parks obituary

Actor likened to James Dean in his youth who was adopted in middle age by hip directors such as Quentin Tarantino

Michael Parks, who has died aged 77, was a softly spoken character actor who enjoyed a prolific and chequered film and television career, largely in the exploitation genre. In middle age he was adopted as something of a mascot by the hip directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith. “Michael was, and will likely for ever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known,” said Smith, who directed him as a menacing preacher in Red State (2011) and as a sinister seaman with a bizarre walrus fixation in Tusk (2014). Both roles were written especially for him by Smith, who said: “He will take a page of dialogue and deliver it in a different way than anybody else.”

Parks had appeared earlier as the mobster and drug-runner Jean Renault in David Lynch’s cult television series Twin Peaks (1990–91), but his career resurgence really began after a scene-stealing appearance in the vampire movie From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), directed by Rodriguez and written by Tarantino, who also starred in the film alongside George Clooney. “His naturalism was just amazing to watch,” said Rodriguez. “You would roll the cameras and watch the magic happen.”

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