ByGrant Hermanns, writer at
I know way too much about movies, my mind is like a walking IMDB, only not perfect. Don't forget to hit up my Twitter: @grantheftautho
Grant Hermanns

He's been a Texas Ranger, a mad scientist, a crazed pastor and an infamous outlaw during his nearly 60-year career in Hollywood, but his days as a legendary character actor have sadly come to an end. Michael Parks, a frequent collaborator with and , passed away on Wednesday at the age of 77. Smith broke the news on Instagram with a tribute to the actor.

Parks has played many memorable characters. In honor of his passing, let's look back at some of his best roles.

7. Detective Ronny 'Del' Delany — The Hitman

  • Release Year: 1991
  • Role: Antagonist
  • Co-Stars: Chuck Norris, Alberta Watson, Al Waxman

Though it was one of Chuck Norris's lesser-known action showcases from the '90s, Michael Parks delivered a memorably devious turn as the crooked partner of Norris's hero cop turned hitman after Parks's betrayal.

6. Earl McGraw — Tarantino/Rodriguez Universes

'Kill Bill: Vol. 1' [Credit: Miramax]
'Kill Bill: Vol. 1' [Credit: Miramax]
  • Release Years: 1996–2007
  • Roles: Antagonist, Semi-protagonist
  • Appearances: From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Grindhouse

While the cat's been out of the bag about Tarantino's films sharing a universe for many years now, the biggest hint towards this came when he and Robert Rodriguez brought From Dusk Till Dawn to life on the screen with Parks's unforgettable turn as Earl McGraw, the Texas Ranger hunting down the Gecko brothers. Parks brought such a calm demeanor to the character that evoked a sense of confidence in his work as a Ranger, as well as plenty of comedic dialogue that he will forever be one of the best roles in Parks's career.

5. Jean Renault — Twin Peaks

'Twin Peaks' [Credit: ABC]
'Twin Peaks' [Credit: ABC]
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Role: Antagonist
  • Episodes: 5

The cult classic TV mystery featured many future stars in minor roles, including David Duchovny, Miguel Ferrer and Parks, who portrayed the eldest of the three French-Canadian Renault brothers involved in a major crime ring north of the border. Parks once again delivered a charismatic performance as the ruthless brother working tirelessly for his family to reclaim the One Eyed Jack's brothel from corrupt businessman Benjamin Horne. Though he only appeared in five of the 30-episode original run, Parks was always a compelling actor to watch when Renault appeared in the series.

4. James Bronson — Then Came Bronson

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Role: Protagonist
  • Episodes: 27

After starring in a number of smaller roles in the early-to-late '60s in both TV and film, Parks got his first TV starring role with the adventure/drama Then Came Bronson, in which Parks portrayed a journalist disillusioned with his job and home life after his best friend commits suicide. So, he hits the road on his bike in search of meaning. Though the series only lasted one season, Parks proved his strength early in his career with this titular role that helped boost him into the spotlight and earn him more prominent roles in the '70s and '80s, eventually leading to his leading man or prominent side character roles later down the road.

3. Pastor Abin Cooper — Red State

'Red State' [Credit: Lionsgate]
'Red State' [Credit: Lionsgate]
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Role: Antagonist
  • Co-Stars: Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Michael Angarano

In his first collaboration with Kevin Smith, 2011's , Parks portrayed Pastor Abin Cooper, the maniacal leader of the radical Five Points Trinity Church, who kidnaps a group of young boys for sinister means. Smith's first attempt with the horror genre was certainly dark and gruesome, and Parks dove into the role with ease, capturing all of the manic ravings and intense persona that comes with the role of Cooper.

2. LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee — Django Unchained

  • Release Year: 2012
  • Role: Minor Antagonist
  • Co-Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

Though only portraying a minor character in the film, there was no denying the excitement from fans in seeing Parks appear on screen alongside our heroes in . In the 2012 western, Parks portrayed a mining company employee escorting Django to his new life as a slave (again) until hearing Django out and deciding to release him — before the gunslinger kills him and his compatriots. His cameo role in Tarantino's first dive into the western genre was a fun nod to the fans and a performance delivered with wit and a clear sense of fun that it's certainly memorable.

1. Howard Howe — Tusk

  • Release Year: 2014
  • Role: Antagonist
  • Co-Stars: Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment

In his second collaboration with Smith — and the writer/director's second entry into the horror genre — Parks delivered arguably his best performance of his career as the reclusive retired seaman Howard Howe. Howe kidnaps hero podcaster, Wallace (Justin Long), with intentions to turn Wallace into a walrus similar to the one that saved his life so many years ago while he was at sea.

With , Smith looked to make a more blended horror-comedy than Red State, and while the tonal jumble was certainly rough in moments, it worked out for both the character of Howe and Parks, who perfectly delivered both a terrifying and hilarious performance as the lead villain, saving the film from being a complete disaster, as well as cementing Parks as a key character actor in the industry.

What are your favorite roles from Michael Parks? Are there any not on this list? Let us know in the comments below!


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