M. Emmet Walsh, “Blade Runner” and “Blood Simple” actor, dies at 88

Walsh won an Independent Spirit Award for his performance in the Coen Brothers film.

M. Emmet Walsh, best known for his work as private detective Loren Visser in Blood Simple, has died. He was 88 years old.

A representative for Walsh confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that he died Tuesday in Vermont as a result of cardiac arrest.

Walsh, a character actor known for his wry delivery and gruff yet slippery persona, had over 200 acting credits to his name. He was best known for his role in the Coen Brothers' debut Blood Simple, in which he plays a crooked private detective who kills his client and frames the client's cheating wife for murder.

<p>Michael Buckner/Variety/Penske Media via Getty</p> M. Emmet Walsh

Michael Buckner/Variety/Penske Media via Getty

M. Emmet Walsh

In Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Walsh made a mark as police captain Bryant who recruits Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard out of retirement for his assistance in hunting down replicants. He also had memorable turns as a slimy sheriff in Critters, Dermot Mulroney's father in My Best Friend's Wedding, and a crazed sniper in The Jerk.

His body of work includes 119 feature films and over 250 television production credits. More recently, he was seen as a security guard in Knives Out and as Granddaddy Roy Gemstone on HBO's The Righteous Gemstones.

Michael Emmet Walsh was born on March 22, 1935, in Ogdensburg, N.Y., and spent his childhood in rural Swanton, Vt. He first studied business administration at Clarkson University, before enrolling at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

After graduating in 1961, he began pursuing work on the stage and in local summer stock. He made his Broadway debut in 1969, appearing in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? opposite Al Pacino and Hal Holbrook. He took on an even bigger role in 1973, replacing Charles Durning in the original production of That Championship Season.

He also made his onscreen debut in 1969 in Alice's Restaurant, before moving to Los Angeles and securing small roles in films such as Little Big Man, What's Up, Doc?, and They Might Be Giants. His breakthrough came with 1977's Slap Shot, in which he portrayed cynical small-town sports reporter Dickie Dunn. He earned even more attention for his work as a parole officer in 1978's Straight Time, followed swiftly by his small but memorable turn in The Jerk.

<p>Circle Films/ Everett </p> M. Emmet Walsh in 'Blood Simple'

Circle Films/ Everett

M. Emmet Walsh in 'Blood Simple'

Blood Simple came in 1984, and he received the first Independent Spirit Award in 1986 for Best Male Lead for his work in the film. The actor's other projects from that era included Brubaker, Ordinary People, Reds, Fletch, Raising Arizona, and Clean and Sober.

Walsh also worked steadily in television, appearing on everything from Starsky and Hutch to Bonanza to The X-Files to NYPD Blue to Frasier to The Twilight Zone. He made multiple appearances as the father-in-law of Tim Allen's character on Home Improvement, and he was a series regular on both Sneaky Pete and The Mind of the Married Man.

His other film credits include Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, Narrow Margin, A Time To Kill, Calvary, Killer Image, Snow Dogs, and Christmas With the Cranks. He also lent his voice talents to The Iron Giant as Earl Stutz. Walsh had a distinctive voice and provided the narration for both of Ken Burns' landmark documentaries, The Civil War and Baseball.

He was a dedicated performer and worked up until the end of his life, with his final credit being 2024's Outlaw Posse from director Mario Van Peebles.

"I approach each job thinking it might be my last so it better be the best work possible," he once said. "I want to be remembered as a working actor. I’m being paid for what I’d do for nothing."

Walsh never married. He is survived by his niece, nephew, and two grandnephews.

Related content:

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.