Michael Parks, a character actor who enjoyed a career renaissance in recent decades thanks to high profile roles in films by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith, died Wednesday at the age of 77.
Parks made his acting debut in a small role in 1961 on the sitcom The Real McCoys, and, racked up dozens of roles on both television and feature films, most notably as the casino owner and drug runner Jean Renault on the second season of Twin Peaks.
After years playing bit roles in made-for-TV movies, Westerns and slasher films, Parks was cast as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Rodriguez’ 1996 vampire flick From Dusk ’til Dawn. Quentin Tarantino, an associate of Rodriguez’, then cast Parks in a dual role for Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Volume 2; in the former, he reprised the McGraw role, while the latter found the actor playing Mexican pimp Esteban Vihaio.
Parks would portray McGraw once more for Tarantino and Rodriguez in the directors’ Grindhouse films. Tarantino also recruited Parks for a small role in Django Unchained.
Parks’ career revival also resulted in roles in Ben Affleck’s Argo, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and a pair of Kevin Smith horror flicks, Red State and Tusk.
“Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known. I wrote both [Red State] and [Tusk] FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much,” Smith posted on Wednesday. “He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set.”
At the time of his death, Parks was cast in the upcoming Christian Bale film Hostiles.
Last post featuring more poster art inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino.
Kill Bill (released as two films, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), a highly stylized “revenge flick” in the cinematic traditions of Wuxia (Chinese martial arts), Jidaigeki (Japanese period cinema), Spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror. It was based on a character (The Bride) and a plot that he and Kill Bill’s lead actress, Uma Thurman, had developed during the making of Pulp Fiction. In 2004, Tarantino returned to Cannes, where he served as President of the Jury. Although Kill Bill was not in competition, Vol. 2 had an evening screening, while it was also shown on the morning of the final day in its original 3-hour-plus version with Quentin himself attending the full screening. Tarantino then went on to be credited as “Special Guest Director” in Robert Rodriguez’s 2005 neo-noir film Sin City for his work directing the car sequence featuring Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro.
The next film project was Grindhouse, which he co-directed with Rodriguez. Released in theaters on April 6, 2007, Tarantino’s contribution to the Grindhouse project was titled Death Proof. It began as a take on 1970s slasher films, but evolved dramatically as the project unfolded. Ticket sales were low despite mostly positive reviews.
Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds is the story of a group of guerilla U.S. soldiers in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Filming began in October 2008. The film opened on August 21, 2009 to very positive reviews and the #1 spot at the box office worldwide. It went on to become Tarantino’s highest grossing film, both in the United States and worldwide.
In 2011, production began on Django Unchained, about the revenge of a slave on his former master. The film stemmed from Tarantino’s desire to produce a spaghetti western set in America’s Deep South; inspired by the 1966 film Django, directed by Sergio Corbucci. Tarantino has called the proposed style “a southern”, stating that he wanted “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to”. Tarantino finished the script on April 26, 2011, and handed in the final draft to The Weinstein Company.
Agency William Morris Endeavor reported Christoph Waltz was cast to play a German bounty hunter, with Stacey Sher, Pilar Savone, and Reginald Hudlin producing. Although Will Smith and Idris Elba were heavily rumored to be up for the title role, Jamie Foxx has since been confirmed to play Django. Tarantino regular Samuel L. Jackson will play Stephen, a house slave. Leonardo DiCaprio has also been officially cast in the role of Calvin Candie, the primary antagonist in the film. Kevin Costner had been cast as Ace Woody, a “vile and sadistic trainer of slaves who are forced to fight in death matches for a plantation owner (DiCaprio)” before he later dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and has been replaced by Kurt Russell. Kerry Washington has been cast as Broomhilda, the “long-suffering slave wife of Django.” Other cast members include Dennis Christopher as Candie family lawyer Leonide ‘Leo’ Moguy, Laura Cayouette as Candie’s sister, Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, M. C. Gainey and Tom Savini as Big John and Ellis Brittle, two of the slave owners who separate Django and Broomhilda, Anthony LaPaglia and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Australian brothers, Jano and an unnamed character, respectively, who encounter Django while escorting slaves to a fight. However, Gordon-Levitt has not fully committed to the film, due to possible scheduling issues, and Gerald McRaney and Michael K. Williams in unknown roles. Tarantino-collaborator RZA was cast as a slave named Thadeus. According to various Tarantino websites, Sacha Baron Cohen was cast in the role as gambler Scotty Harmony who wishes to purchase Django’s wife from Calvin Candie. James Remar is also involved in the film, as is reportedly, Tarantino is also interested in including Lady Gaga in the film to some degree. The film is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2012.
More Quentin Tarantino inspired poster artwork…
The first of a few random postings of poster art from Quentin Tarantino films…