Closing Credits: Ron Silver
Ron Silver died on Sunday morning after battling cancer for two years. He was perhaps most recently known for his role in the superb series West Wing, although I particularly remember his roles in The Entity, Romancing the Stone, Blue Steel and Reversal of Fortune.
For many I suspect he's an actor that they know by face and only when they read his career list do they begin to remember the films they recognise him from.
While the news announcement from The Hollywood Reporter concentrates more on his politics, at Filmstalker I prefer to talk about the films.
I think I probably remember Ron Silver most for his role in Blue Steel, although it wasn't the first film I saw him in, and in all honesty I have no real recollection why it's that role above others. I do remember thinking I loved the part he played, and it did really get the tension going and actually give me a bit of a surprise.
Blue Steel was a 1989 film from Kathryn Bigelow, and told the story of a rookie female cop who becomes the focus of a killer's fantasy. The female cop was played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and Ron Silver played the business man who seems to be a straight laced business man on one side of his life, and an emerging psychopath on the other, slowly spiralling towards a dramatic conclusion.
Actually now I do remember more about the role, and Silver managed to convey a split character who was more and more losing grip of his own sanity. Add to that the fact that Bigelow created a strong psychological thriller, and that's probably why I remember it so.
The Entity is another film that strikes me from his past, and that was probably more down to the story itself which was frightening when I saw it in the early eighties. It's based on supposedly real events which tell of a woman who was repeatedly raped and tormented by an invisible entity. That film left a mark with me and I remembered Silver from it immediately, along with Barbara Hershey in the lead.
That is probably the first film I remember him from, but it was probably Silkwood that perhaps was his biggest role to that point. Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell took the leads with plenty of other big names in the cast. It tells the true story of a woman who revealed the dangerous working practices at the nuclear power plant she was working in and subsequently died of radiation poisoning, something which the film claims was deliberate in order to stop her talking.
He was in Romancing the Stone as a vendor, and I think I can actually remember the part, although it's been so long since I've seen the film.
He starred alongside Anne Bancroft in Garbo Talks, the story of a dying woman who's last wish is to meet Greta Garbo, and her son sets about to do just that. Silver plays her son, and while I haven't seen the film from Sidney Lumet, I have heard it's a very strong role in his career.
I also remember him in the Kane and Abel television series, one which my mother and father watched on television. Starring such names as Peter Strauss and Sam Neill, he had a large role. Again I remember little of it but do remember seeing him on screen during the series.
Reversal of Fortune sees Silver hired to defend Claus von Bülow, played by Jeremy Irons, who is accused of murdering his very wealthy wife now lying brain dead in a coma. She is played by Glen Close who narrates the film which is again based on a true story. Silver plays a Professor who enlists his students to help him win the case, and plays a powerful role and one of the biggest of his film career.
He returns to the bad guy in the legendary Timecop, a film which sees Jean-Claude Van Damme playing a policeman who uses a time machine to regulate the misuse of time travel. While he's conflicted about going back in time and saving his wife from being killed, he begins to uncover the plot of a Senator who plans to use the time machine for his own devices. The Senator is played by Silver and marks another, albeit more light hearted, bad guy role for him.
That is perhaps the most popular role that he would be known for alongside his appearance in the excellent Ali from Michael Mann. He played Angelo Dundee, the cornerman for Muhammad Ali, and with fifteen other world champion boxers including Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman.
He appeared for Sidney Lumet in Find Me Guilty starring Vin Diesel, a rather underrated film. There he played Judge Finestein, the Judge looking over the longest Mafia trial in U.S. history.
Finally he was due to appear in A Fonder Heart, another based on a true story film which sees a sixty year old man placed in the same hospital room as a fifteen year old boy who become friends. While the boy thinks that the man is in for knee surgery, the older man fears the worst, and thinks his life is coming to an end. The old man is played by Burt Reynolds and the cast has a great line up of names including Daryl Hannah, James Brolin, Louis Gossett Jr., Shelley Long, Charles Durning and Rachel Hunter to name but a few.
Ron Silver was an actor who certainly made an impact with me in Blue Steel and starred in a few films that I remember from the long list that I've seen, and stay with me to this day. There are also a number of notable performances that gained him a lot of respect as an actor, including his 1995 role as Henry Kissinger in the television show Kissinger and Nixon, his role in West Wing, and his Tony award winning role in David Mamet's Speed the Plow.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.