Eli Wallach, a great character actor who appeared in everything from The Magnificent Seven to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to The Godfather Part III to the underrated The Ghost Writer, died on Tuesday at the age of 98. He never won an Oscar for a specific role, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences covered their asses/handed him an honorary trophy in 2010 for being “the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role.”
More often than not, his film roles required him to play mustachioed characters who were lawless, evil or just plain nasty, which puzzled and challenged him. “Actually I lead a dual life,” he once said. “In the theater, I’m the little man, or the irritated man, the misunderstood man,” whereas in films “I do seem to keep getting cast as the bad guys.” His villain roles, he said, tended to be “more complex” than some of his stage roles.
Even so, the theater remained his home base, and he said that he could never imagine leaving it. “What else am I going to do?” he asked in an interview with the Times in 1997. “I love to act.” (Via)
His final film: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. That “dirty son-of-a-b” deserved better.