Fred Ward, the gruff yet very relatable character actor, known for movies such as “The Right Stuff,” “Tremors,” and “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” has passed away at age 79. Ward’s tough and witty character portrayals were easy to relate to and beloved by fans.
“Tremors” is maybe his most-watched movie and is recognized as a true cult classic. Though led by a movie star, Kevin Bacon, it’s really the combination of Ward and Bacon, together, as equal stars, that give the film its charm; it’s endlessly rewatchable. After the title is shown on screen within the first minute, we learn everything we know about the two friends, Val and Earl, played by Bacon and Ward, respectively. They have such great chemistry together, and whatever the movie has in store for these two, we are interested in seeing these two oddball friends take on the challenge. In this case, the adventure just happens to involve underground worms, but it could have involved anything, and it wouldn’t matter.
Another cult classic film is “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” which, for those who have never seen this old 80s film, is kind of a knock-off of “The Karate Kid” and “James Bond”. Ward plays the lead character, a New York cop who is “killed” in the line of duty only to be recruited by a secret organization to fight for the cause of good. Legally dead, the cop he was doesn’t exist, and he is now Remo Williams. In the film, he is trained to fight and dodge bullets by a Korean martial artist Chiun (played by Joel Gray). The core of the film is the friendship that develops between Remo and Chiun, and the mixture of humor and action was quite striking for a mid-80s film. Ward really makes this film work and when he learns that Chuin may have to kill him should things go wrong, we feel the regret from both of them.
Like Remo Williams, we can relate to Ward even if we didn’t actually know him.
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