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James Rebhorn, The Ultimate 'That Guy' Actor, Dead At 65

By / 03.23.14

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I feel like I may have jinxed James Rebhorn the other day when I mentioned him in my Bad Words review. I needed an example of a character actor who constantly gets typecast as the same kind of character, and Rebhorn was the first person who came to mind. And now, Heaven has a new actor to play the role of “stuffy rich guy.” Rebhorn died Friday night at the age of 65, of skin cancer, according to TMZ.

“Homeland” star James Rebhorn died at his home in New Jersey Friday night … after a long battle with skin cancer … TMZ has learned.

Rebhorn’s wife Rebecca tells us the actor was diagnosed with melanoma in 1992 … and he’s been getting treatments ever since.

We’re told his condition drastically worsened recently and he began receiving hospice care at his New Jersey home. [TMZ]

Rebhorn played similar characters in a slew of memorable movies – one of Ben Stiller’s in-laws in Meet the Parents, Claire Danes’ dad in Homeland, roles in The Game, Independence Day, Scent of a Woman, My Cousin Vinny, etc etc etc.

In five decades of television and film work, Rebhorn amassed more than 100 credits, ranging from a shipping magnate in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” to the prosecutor in the series finale of “Seinfeld,” in which he famously sent the group to jail.

The lanky but piercing Rebhorn, raised a Lutheran in Indiana, often played astringent authorities, like the headmaster in “Scent of a Woman” or the Secretary of Defense in “Independence Day.”

Other credits of the Philadelphia-born Rebhorn, who received his masters in acting from Columbia University, include “The Game,” “Real Steel,” “Law & Order,” “Carlito’s Way” and “Meet the Parents.”

Rebhorn also frequently worked in theater, starring on Broadway in revivals of “Our Town,” “12 Angry Men” and the original 1985 production of “I’m Not Rappaport. [FoxNews]

Rebhorn was one of those (if not the ultimate) “that guy” actors you see in everything who seems like such a “type” that he was constantly getting cast as basically the same character over and over again. That’s not really the actor’s fault, character actors basically have to take every job they’re offered if they want to make a living. It’s more the fault of uncreative casting directors.

I don’t think I appreciated James Rebhorn before Homeland. I like to rip on that show for Carrie’s grating “crazy person” tics, and for the increasingly uncompelling love triangles, and for the gee whiz dork of a son who contributes nothing other than occasional exuberance over TVs or huevos rancheros, but credit where credit is due, someone finally gave James Rebhorn a role that was more than a wafer-thin caricature. He proved he was more than just a type. He played Carrie’s dad, a character who had dealt with his own mental illness and seemed to understand how to cope with it, with heart and a wisdom that was uncharacteristic of a lot of his earlier, more villain-y roles (though equally WASPy). It makes me wish he’d had more opportunities like it.

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