Iconic character actor Fred Ward, known best for his roles in Joe Dirt and the Tremors franchise, has died. He was 79 years old. NPR reported the sad news and stated that Ward's publicist, Ron Hofmann, confirmed it to be true. At this time, no cause of death has been given. In a statement shared by the outlet, Hoffman said, "The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices.
Hoffman continued, "He could play such diverse characters as Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey) to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who, alongside Kevin Bacon, battle giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in 'cult' horror/comedy film, Tremors (1990), or a detective in the indie film Two Small Bodies (1993) directed by underground filmmaker Beth B., or a terrorist planning to blow up the Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), or the father of the lead character in Jennifer Lopez's revenge thriller Enough (2002)."
Hearing word that the great Fred Ward has passed away at age 79. Genre fans knew him best as Earl Basset in 1990's TREMORS, but he was absolutely fantastic in Walter Hill's SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981) and as H.P. Lovecraft in HBO's CAST A DEADLY SPELL (1991). RIP, good sir. pic.twitter.com/lzaorNzyMA— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) May 13, 2022
The news of Ward's death has had fans and peers taking to social media to mourn the acting legend. "Impossible to watch Tremors and not instantly fall in love with both Val & Earl," tweeted Bloody Disgusting Editor-in-Chief John Squires. "Fred Ward was such a pivotal aspect to the success of those first two movies, and I always held out hope that he'd be back to battle Graboids one more time. It's just not fully Tremors without him.
Renowned film critic Richard Roeper wrote, "Fred Ward was so good at playing the grizzled tough guy, it's easy to lose sight of his versatility. He was the consummate character actor. Rest in Peace and thank you for so many indelible performances, good sir."
Someone else added, "Fred Ward was one of the first stars I met as an intern in Hollywood. I worshipped at the altar of MIAMI BLUES and TREMORS, so he was a huge deal to me. He was a nice guy-much nicer than many actors with lesser credits are to freaking interns. Rest In Peace."
Finally, actor Diedrich Bader offered, "Fred Ward was seemingly incapable of being inauthentic. His characters felt like they lived a full life and we're only seeing a part of it and that's a magic trick done right in front of you and very luckily captured in light forever. RIP."