Robert Forster: Jackie Brown actor dies aged 78

Robert Forster has died aged 78.

The American star, who was suffering from brain cancer, passed away after a short illness at his home in Los Angeles, according to his publicist.

Forster with his wife of 16 years Denise Grayson at the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood premiere
Image: Forster with his wife of 16 years Denise Grayson at the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood premiere

A well-known character actor, Forster had been acting since the 1960s, but his career took an upwards turn in 1997 when Quentin Tarantino cast him in his film Jackie Brown.

He later received an Oscar nomination for the role.

His raised profile led to roles in Breaking Bad and its spin-off El Camino, which premiered on the day of his death.

Co-stars paid tribute to Forster on social media, with Bryan Cranston calling him a “lovely man and a consummate actor”.

He went on: “I never forgot how kind and generous he was to a young kid just starting out in Hollywood.”

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His Jackie Brown co-star Samuel L Jackson tweeted that Forster was “truly a class act/Actor!!”

Born in Rochester, New York, Forster originally intended to become a lawyer, but was drawn to acting after following a female student he was trying to impress into an audition.

He not only won a part in the show, but went on to marry the female student.

After being spotted in a 1965 Broadway production, he was signed up for a studio contract and made his film debut in the 1967 John Huston film Reflections in a Golden Eye, which starred Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.

He later joked about his early career high and later “27-year slump”.

During the 1970s and 1980s he appeared in more than 100 films, many of which were B-films.

He said he took many roles out of necessity, telling the Chicago Tribune last year: “I had four kids, I took any job I could get.

“Every time it reached a lower level I thought I could tolerate, it dropped some more, and then some more. Near the end, I had no agent, no manager, no lawyer, no nothing. I was taking whatever fell through the cracks.”

But everything changed in 1997, after Tarantino created the role of bail bondsman Max Cherry for him in his crime thriller Jackie Brown.

Forster had come to the director’s attention after unsuccessfully auditioning for Reservoir Dogs.

Forster later credited Tarantino with changing his life, saying “he gave me a career back and the last 14 years have been fabulous”.

Forster went on to appear in much higher-profile films including David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Me, Myself and Irene, and The Descendants.

On TV, as well as Breaking Bad and El Camino, he was also part of the Twin Peaks revival, and in a comedy role as Tim Allen’s father in Last Man Standing.

Forster will appear later this year in the Steven Spielberg-produced Apple+ fantasy series Amazing Stories.

He leaves behind three daughters and one son, and his partner of 16 years, actress Denise Grayson.

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