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Powers Boothe (1 June 1948 – 14 May 2017)

For the first ten years of his acting career, Powers Boothe was on stage appearing in a range of Shaespearean productions that included Troilus and Cressida to Henry IV, Part II to Richard III. Quite a difference in terms of his background as the youngest of three boys growing up on a ranch in Texas (he was also the first person in his family to go to university). Those early years helped Boothe hone his acting skills, and though he began his movie career with a bit part in The Goodbye Girl (1977), it was only three short years before he was impressing television audiences with his performance as the doomed cult leader in Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980). Boothe won an Emmy, and that auspicious portrayal heralded the arrival of a real talent.

During the Eighties Boothe consolidated his success with a variety of movie, television (particularly as Philip Marlowe) and stage roles that reaffirmed his skill as a performer, but as the decade progressed he appeared more and more as both a supporting actor, and as a villain as well. With his stern features, penetrating stare and sonorous voice, Boothe was equally suited to the various law enforcement roles he began playing as he got older, before moving on to senior politician roles such as Alexander Haig in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995). He was able to inject a sense of gravitas to these roles that often helped tremendously when a movie was lacking in other areas, but a glance through his filmography shows that he didn’t make too many bad choices during his career, and he was able to work with directors of the calibre of John Boorman, Walter Hill and Robert Rodriguez.

From the late Nineties onwards, Boothe gravitated more and more towards television, and appeared in a number of well received shows including Attila the Hun, Deadwood, and 24. In recent years he also appeared in the likes of Nashville and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But whatever the format, Boothe was always an actor worth paying attention to, someone who could take a role and spin something unexpected out of it. And despite the often serious nature of the parts he played – he never did comedy – he could be relied on to appreciate the benefits of his profession: “Hell, I’ve played as many guys who get the girl as I have heavies. I’ve done love scenes with Jessica Lange and Jennifer Lopez, and I won’t kid you, they’re fun”.

1 – Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980)

2 – Southern Comfort (1981)

3 – The Emerald Forest (1985)

4 – Extreme Prejudice (1987)

5 – Into the Homeland (1987)

6 – By Dawn’s Early Light (1990)

7 – Tombstone (1993)

8 – Blue Sky (1994)

9 – U Turn (1997)

10 – Sin City (2005)

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