Emmet Walsh, famous character actor from ‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ dies at 88.  

Los Angeles — M. Emmet Walsh, the character actor who appeared in “Blood Simple” and “Blade Runner,” died at 88, his management announced Wednesday. Sandy Joseph, Walsh's longtime manager, claimed Walsh died of cardiac arrest in St. Albans, Vermont, on Tuesday.

Walsh, a ham-faced, heavyset actor, played a dishonest Texas private detective in the Coen brothers' 1984 neo-noir “Blood Simple.” Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the character for Walsh, who won the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead. Critics and cinema buffs loved his screen appearances.

According to Roger Ebert, “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.” In 1979 Steve Martin comedy “The Jerk” and 1985 Chevy Chase film “Fletch,” Walsh played a mad sniper and a prostate-examining doctor.

Walsh plays a tough police commander who recruits Harrison Ford to hunt cyborgs in 1982's grim "Blade Runner," which he says was challenging to make with perfectionist filmmaker Ridley Scott. His characters made Michael Emmet Walsh seem from the South, yet he was actually from the north.

Walsh's grandpa, father, and brother were customs inspectors on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border. He attended Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City after graduating from a small local high school with 13 students.

Performing in summer stock and repertory groups for a decade, he never intended to change careers. Walsh made his film debut in 1969 with a bit role in “Alice’s Restaurant,” but he didn't start playing major roles until his 40s, when he played Dustin Hoffman's smug, boorish parole officer in 1978's “Straight Time.”

After seeing and loving Walsh in “Straight Time,” the Coen brothers, then-aspiring filmmakers, offered him “Blood Simple” while he was shooting “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep in Dallas in autumn 1982.

My agent called with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. Sydney Greenstreet-esque job with Panama suit and hat. It was enjoyable and intriguing. I drove to Austin early one day before shooting because they were 100 miles away.”

Walsh claimed the filmmakers didn't have enough money to fly him to New York for the opening, but he was amazed that first-time filmmakers made something so amazing. “I saw it three or four days later when it opened in LA, and I was, like: Wow!” “Suddenly my price rose fivefold. I was the popular guy.”

He plays Detective Loren Visser, who is hired to pursue a man's wife and kill her and her boyfriend. Visser narrates, and Walsh's best lines are in the opening Texas drawl monologue. “Russia has it set up so everyone helps everyone else. Anyway, that's the theory, Visser says. “But I know Texas. Down here, you're alone.” He worked into his late 80s, appearing on “The Righteous Gemstones” and “American Gigolo.”

Among his over 100 film credits were Rian Johnson's 2019 family murder mystery “Knives Out” and Mario Van Peebles' 2019 Western “Outlaw Posse.” Johnson praised Walsh on social media.

Johnson tweeted, “Emmet came to set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a small-type single spaced double column list of modern classics that filled a whole page, & two-dollar bills that he passed out to the entire crew ‘Don’t spend it and you’ll never be broke.’ Absolute legend.”

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