M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘The Jerk’ Star, Dead at 88

2024-03-20 18:13:51

Veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh, star of such timeless classics like Blade Runner and The Jerk, died on Tuesday at the age of 88.

Walsh’s longtime manager confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the actor died this week from cardiac arrest in St. Albans, Vermont.

“I don’t want you to see an M. Emmet Walsh. I want you to see a garbage collector or a president of Princeton or whatever. … I do everyman. And also I play hard,” Walsh once said of his work, which includes over 230 IMDB credits going all the way back to 1968.

Due to his drolly baritone voice and imposing stature, Walsh found his stride with authority figure roles that often ranged from government officials to shady bureaucrats across various genres. In the 1970s comedy classic The Jerk, he played the psychotic private eye who goes on a shooting rampage after drawing a random name from the phonebook.

Just three years later, Walsh entered into sci-fi fandom when Ridley Scott cast him in Blade Runner as Captain Bryant. “Talk about beauty and the beast: she’s both,” he famously uttered.


However, it was in 1984 when M. Emmet Walsh’s talent took center-stage with the Coen Brothers’ film noir class Blood Simple wherein he played the reprehensible private detective Loren Visser.

“Every time, you [have to] try to figure something individual that works for the character,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017 of the role. “If you’re playing a villain, you don’t play villain. … Visser doesn’t think of himself as particularly bad or evil. He’s on the edge of what’s legal, but he’s having a lot of fun with all that. He’s a simple fella trying to make an extra buck and going a little further than he’d normally go in his business enterprises.”

Walsh won a Spirit Award for best male lead in Blood Simple and worked with the Coen Brothers again several years later in 1987’s Raising Arizona.

Walsh told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) in 2017 that most people recognized him from his role in Blade Runner.  “We shot down in [Los Angeles’] Union Station,” he said of the movie. “They set it all up in a little office over in a corner, and we had to be out by five in the morning because commuters were coming in for the train. I don’t know if I really understood what in the hell it was all about.”

Walsh never married and said in a 2015 interview “If you marry another actor, there’s always competition. And if you marry a ‘civilian,’ they don’t understand what you’re doing and why you have to travel to, say, Nova Scotia, for several months. Besides, I never met a woman who was stupid enough to think I was a great catch!”

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M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘The Jerk’ Star, Dead at 88

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