Rip Torn Dead: Will Smith Leads Tributes To Men In Black Co-Star Following His Death, Aged 88

The actor was also known for his roles in The Larry Sanders Show and 30 Rock.

Will Smith has led the tributes to actor Rip Torn, who has died at the age of 88.

Will co-starred with the Oscar-nominated actor in 1997’s Men In Black.

Rip, who was also known for his roles in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and TV’s The Larry Sanders Show, died on Tuesday, his representative said.

Will co-starred with Rip in 1997’s Men In Black.
Will co-starred with Rip in 1997’s Men In Black.

Rick Miramontez said Torn died at his home with his wife, Amy Wright, and daughters Katie Torn and Angelica Page by his side. No cause of death was given.

Will Smith shared a picture of the pair together on screen, along with the caption: “R.I.P. Rip.”

British sci-fi author Neil Gaiman recalled meeting Rip in 1990 and said he inspired the character of Mr Wednesday in his fantasy novel American Gods.

He tweeted: “I met Rip Torn once, in 1990, on a movie location in NC. ‘You write science fiction?’ he said, teeth in a scary grin. ‘I was in BEASTMASTER.’

“Then he shook my hand and I ceased to exist for him. That was the start of Mr Wednesday in American Gods. RIP Rip.”

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane cited Rip’s roles as Artie in The Larry Sanders Show and Bob Diamond in 1991 comedy Defending Your Life as among his best work.

He said: “Rip Torn always made me laugh. Artie and Bob Diamond were two utterly unforgettable characters.”

Alec Baldwin, who worked with Torn on TV comedy 30 Rock, said: “He was a deeply committed, phenomenal actor. See you down the road, Rip. You wonderful madman.”

Rip won an Emmy late in his career for his comedy turn on TV’s The Larry Sanders Show, playing the role of Artie, the bombastic, ethically challenged television producer.

Created by and starring Garry Shandling, HBO’s spoof of TV talk shows aired from 1992 to 1998.

His career hit a dry spell in the 1970s, and he blamed it on the buzz in Hollywood at the time that he was difficult to work with, a reputation sealed when tension on the set of Easy Rider led to his being replaced by Jack Nicholson for the 1969 release and missing out on one of the biggest hits of the era.

“I wouldn’t say that I was blacklisted,” he told The Associated Press in 1984, “but the word got around that I was difficult and unreliable. Unreliable! In all my years in the theatre I have never missed a performance.”

He managed to keep working in small projects in theatre, films and TV, returning to the mainstream in 1983 with Cross Creek, in which he played table-smashing backwoodsman Marsh Turner. The role brought him his only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor.


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