Max Cherry is no more. The Hollywood Reporter has received word that Robert Forster, a fixture in movies and television for half a century, has died. According to his publicist, the veteran actor passed away “on Friday at his Los Angeles home from brain cancer.” Forster was 78 years old.
Born in 1941, Forster caught the acting bug in college, and after a few years on Broadway, moved out to Hollywood. His first notable role was for John Huston in Reflections in a Golden Eye. Always a dependable performer, Forster also appeared in movies like Alligator, The Delta Force and Disney’s The Black Hole. Although mostly cast as a supporting actor, he did play the lead in Haskell Wexler’s influential New Hollywood feature Medium Cool.
In 2019, most film fans probably know Forster best as Max Cherry, the bail bondsman who falls for the title character in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Forster was 56 when he was cast opposite Pam Grier; he became a classic example of Tarantino finding an actor who’d been undervalued by Hollywood and then giving them a career-reviving part.
Tarantino wrote the role of Max specifically for Forster, who got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1997 (he ultimately lost to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting). Forster then spent the next several years appearing in one big movie after another, including Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, the Farrellys’ Me, Myself & Irene, and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.
Still, Max Cherry will remain Forster’s signature role. If you haven’t seen Jackie Brown recently, it’s even better than you remember, and Forster is perfect as Max; understated, sensitive, and never intimidated. He’s also got terrific chemistry with Grier in all of their scenes together. Watch how they play off each other in this scene:
Even if Forster never surpassed Jackie Brown, he kept working steadily right up until his death. In fact, his final film premiered on the same day he left us; he has a supporting role in the new Breaking Bad film, El Camino. So now you have one more reason to watch it on Netflix this weekend; in tribute to the passing of an unforgettable screen presence.