Eternal sidekick, the actor of “Deliverance” and “Superman” imposed his charisma from cinema to TV, via the theater. He died Sunday at the age of 83.
Ned Beatty was not related to Warren Beatty (“He’s my illegitimate uncle” he joked) but both left their mark on seventies Hollywood cinema in their own way. Facing the demigod Warren, Ned was the unforgettable supporting role with his short, round southerner physique, a pure product of Kentucky where he was born. A subscriber to the hats of a loser, henchman, or shady businessman. A precursor to John Goodman – unsurprisingly, he will play the latter’s father in the series Roseanne. He died at the age of 83 in Los Angeles “From natural causes”.
A stage actor, he went straight to the big screen thanks to John Boorman who gave him his memorable first appearance in Issuance (1972): that of a city dweller who went on a hike with his friends and fought for his survival after being raped by mountain dwellers. “Squeaks like a pig” is the line that haunts this unbearable scene and Beatty’s career. In 1989, he evoked the lessons for an article in New York Times : “Life is well done. Most men don’t have to live with the fear of being raped. My experience teaches me that we would not live it very well […]. I guess when someone (invariably a man) yells at me in the street “squeals like a pig”, I’m supposed to lower my head and look embarrassed to be recognized. But I only feel the pride to be a part of this story. ”
From corrupt cop to dictatorial bear
Hyperactive in the 70s, from Robert Altman (Nashville) at Superman (where he plays the clownish sidekick of the villainous Gene Hackman), Ned Beatty could vampirize an entire film in the space of one scene. In Network (1976) by Sidney Lumet, black comedy on television, he appeared as an industrialist delivering his dark vision of the world in a long monologue that still resonates in the world today, imposing even filmed in the half-light at the bottom of the frame: “There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, ITT, ATT, Dupont, Dow… These are the nations of today. ” Beatty will receive his only nomination for an Oscar (best supporting role) for this disastrous passage. He will always assume this status of second knife without regret: “The stars never want to surprise the public but my great joy is to do so”, they say. “Being a star reduces your effectiveness as an actor because you become the identifiable and predictable part of a product.”
In 160 films and numerous TV appearances, Beatty will have been a corrupt cop (Big Easy: The Cop of My Heart) or sensitive (the series Homicide), Russian general (the Fourth Protocol), tenor (Hear My Song), often played with his partner of Issuance (Burt Reynolds), prison guard for Spike Lee (He Got Game) or the voice of a dictatorial teddy bear in ToyStory3. Young, Beatty had considered being a priest (he will be in The Exorcist II: The Heretic by John Boorman), changed his mind upon seeing a performance of the play Harvey : the story of an eccentric who we want to intern because his best friend is a giant invisible rabbit. Ned Beatty could have played and existed in both roles.
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