Born in Rochester, New York in 1941, Forster made his screen debut in John Huston’s bizarre psychodrama Reflections in a Golden Eye, in which he played an oft-naked Private lusted over by a closeted Major played by Marlon Brando. By 1969 he had his first leading role in Medium Cool, playing a television news cameraman caught up in the chaos of the previous year’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Directed by noted cinematographer and activist Haskell Wexler, the film was a mix of fiction and fact, with Forster as its dramatic anchor.
Forster’s movie career ebbed and flowed through the next couple decades, with roles in films big (The Black Hole, The Delta Force) and small (Alligator, Uncle Sam). In 1997, he received one of the great gifts from the movie gods: a comeback role from Quentin Tarantino. Hot off Pulp Fiction, the filmmaker gave him third-billed in Jackie Brown, an Elmore Leonard adaptation in which he played a bail bondsman in love with the eponymous flight attendant played by Pam Grier. His performance, both laidback and filled with sorrow and longing, earned him his first and only Oscar nomination.
From there on out, Forster was always working, a go-to character actor for whatever movies needed. Some of his bigger titles include Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot Psycho remake, Me, Myself & Irene, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Descendants, and both Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen.
Forster also worked prolifically in television, perhaps most notably playing Sheriff Frank Truman, brother of Michael Ontkean’s Harry S. Truman, on Twin Peaks: The Return. He appeared in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, in a role he would reprise in the spin-off movie El Camino. As it happened, that film dropped on Netflix the day Forster passed on.