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Michael Parks, Character Actor in ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Tusk,’ Dies at 77

Michael Parks, a character actor with over 100 film and television credits, has died. He was 77.

Parks’ agent announced that the actor died on Tuesday.

Parks was born in Corona, Calif., where his early jobs included picking fruit, digging ditches, driving trucks, and fighting forest fires. His film career began in 1961, when he played the nephew of the character George Mac Michael on the ABC sitcom “The Real McCoys.”

His other early roles include Adam in John Huston’s 1966 religious drama “The Bible: In the Beginning,” the NBC series “Sam Benedict,” and the medical drama “The Eleventh Hour.”

The prolific actor had a late-career surge, working with directors including Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. In the first and second “Kill Bill” movies he played Texas Ranger Earl McGraw and Esteban Vihaio.

While he mostly made his career in villainous turns and supporting roles, Parks also dabbled in the spotlight. In 2011’s “Red State” he played the fire and brimstone Pastor Abin Cooper in the vein of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Decades earlier, starting in 1969, he played the lead role in the NBC adventure drama “Then Came Bronson.” Parks recorded the theme for the show, “Long Lonesome Highway,” which cracked multiple Billboard charts. He recorded several albums with MGM including “Closing The Gap” (1969), “Long Lonesome Highway” (1970), and “Blue” (1970).

Smith remembered the performer in a long, heartfelt Instagram tribute, calling Parks his “cinematic muse.”

“Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known,” Smith wrote, adding that he wrote his films “Red State” and “Tusk” for the late actor. “He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform.”

Parks is survived by his wife, Oriana, and his son James.

See Smith’s tribute below:

View this post on Instagram

I hate to report that my cinematic muse #michaelparks has passed away. Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I've ever known. I wrote both #RedState and @tuskthemovie FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much. 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. From the moment I saw him steal the opening scene of #fromdusktildawn at an advance screening at the Sunset 5 back in the mid-90's, I said to @samosier "Could you imagine what it must be like to work with a Yoda of acting like that guy? I gotta write for him one day." It took me 15 years but my dream came true on Red State (for which Parks won Best Actor at the @sitgesfestival) and then again years later with #tusk. Only Michael Parks could have delivered the line "Is man indeed a walrus at heart?" and make it scary as fuck. My favorite memory of Michael is watching him and #johnnydepp act with and at each other, like a couple of dueling wizards, in their shared scene in Tusk. Parks was in Heaven that day, sharing the screen with another brilliant actor and creating an unforgettable performance. He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for. I was so fucking blessed to have worked with this bonafide genius. But really, I was just lucky to have known him at all. My heart goes out to James (Michael's son), Oriana (Michael's wife), Quentin Tarantino (Michael's biggest fan) and any movie or music lover who was ever dazzled by the talents of Michael Parks. Farewell, old friend. I'll see you farther along… #KevinSmith #actor #genius #rip #walrusyes

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