Fred Ward, the versatile actor who played an astronaut on ‘The Right Stuff’, a grizzled drifter on ‘Tremors’ and the titular writer on ‘Henry and June’ over a decades-long career, died Sunday . He was 79 years old.
His publicist, Ron Hoffman, confirmed his death. He did not specify the cause of death.
“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to show up, his career choices were so unpredictable,” Mr. Hoffman said in a statement.
Mr Ward was probably best known for his performances in ‘The Right Stuff’, the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a Tom Wolfe book, and ‘Tremors’, a monster movie that has become a cult classic since its 1990 release. .
But his long career included a wide range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to roles in film and television: among others, a labor activist in “Silkwood”, a detective in “Miami Blues” , Henry Miller in “Henry and June” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann”.
Mr. Ward also starred in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins”, which was to be the first in a series but failed in theaters in 1985 to mixed reviews.
In an interview with The New York Times in 1990, Mr. Ward explained how he chose certain roles, saying, “I’m looking for change, a changing person — he’s on a journey.”
He said he was drawn to the role of Henry Miller because “I’m part of a generation that I think was heavily influenced by Henry Miller, Paris, the ideals there: liberation, a kind of personal and benevolent anarchy that sings through all its pages.
He is survived by his wife, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward.