A marvelous character actor with intense eyes, a sly grin and somewhat grizzled appearance, Golden Globe-winner Fred Ward has nearly 90 appearances under his belt in many tremendous films. He first became interested in acting after serving three years in the US Air Force and studied at New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio. Ward then went to Europe, where he dubbed many Italian movies, and first appeared on-screen in two films by Roberto Rossellini. He then returned to the United States, and got his first decent role alongside Clint Eastwood in the nail-biting prison film Escape from Alcatraz (1979). Ward’s looks often saw him cast as law enforcement or military characters, and he put in noteworthy performances in Southern Comfort (1981), Uncommon Valor (1983), as astronaut Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff (1983) and scored the lead in the interesting spy / martial arts movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), which unfortunately was not as successful as had been the mega-selling series of Remo Williams books.
However, during “Remo”, Ward demonstrated a great knack for comedic timing and satirical performance, and used this ability was to great effect in several films, including playing Kevin Bacon’s fellow giant-worm-fighting handyman in the light-hearted sci-fi hit Tremors (1990), as “Walter Stuckel” in Robert Altman’s The Player (1992), as TV anchorman “Chip Daley” in Tim Robbins’ razor-sharp political satire Bob Roberts (1992) and as a vicious, but incompetent, gangster menacing Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994).
Ward’s abilities as both a strong supporting actor and a truly versatile character actor ensured that he would be in steady demand, and he has continued to turn up in a wide variety of roles utilizing his skills. Keep an eye out for Fred Ward in the action-filled The Chaos Factor (2000), as David Spade’s dad in Joe Dirt (2001), in the tongue-in-cheek Corky Romano (2001) and in the Reese Witherspoon romantic tale Sweet Home Alabama (2002).
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