Last week we lost one of the greats: Alan Arkin, whose acting career spanned seven decades. He was 89 years old. The beloved thespian was nominated for four Oscars, and won once, for 2006’s smash hit Little Miss Sunshine. After his passing, the actress who played his granddaughter honored him with a moving tribute.
“Alan Arkin was one of the most kindest, gentlest and hilarious actors I ever worked with,” Abigail Breslin, who was 10 when the film came out, told People. “We may not have been related in real life but he will always be Grandpa in my heart, I send my deepest sympathies this his wife Suzanne and his family.”
In Little Miss Sunshine, Breslin played a young, indefatigably hopeful girl aspiring beauty queen. After she qualifies for a profoundly questionable and queasy pageant, the dysfunctional family, — Arkin’s heroin-snorting gramps included — piles into their rickety Volkswagen van to travel from New Mexico to California. The film is comically cynical about many things, but Breslin and Arkin share many touching (but not sentimental) scenes. Breslin was also nominated for an Oscar.
Over his long career, Arkin appeared in all manner of beloved films, spanning genres. He did dramas like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (his second Oscar nom) and Glengarry Glen Ross. He did comedies, like Catch-22 and The In-Laws and Grosse Pointe Blank. Did you know he once played Inspector Clouseau? With James Caan, he starred in Freebie and the Bean, often credited as the first buddy cop comedy. He did thrillers like Wait Until Dark and the Best Picture-winning Argo. One of his best is one he directed: 1971’s Little Murders, in which he has one, unforgettable scene.
Arkin will be missed.