Veteran actor John Heard, seen in material ranging from Big and Home Alone to The Sopranos, died over the weekend while recovering from back surgery in California. The remembrances have been coming in from both fans and Heard’s acting peers, but this one from fellow Home Alone star and personal friend Daniel Stern might be the best.
Stern remembers Heard as “the coolest cat in New York City” for a decade before anyone in their circle of actors broke into movies.
“Every actor wanted to be as intense as him, every woman wanted to sleep with him,” Stern writes. “He lived life at 110 mph — Plato’s Retreat, Cafe Central, crazy, crazy drink and drug stamina. He was defiant, he was poetic, he was ridiculously generous and he was charismatic as hell.”
Stern includes the story of moving to New York City to become an actor and being taken in by Heard and fellow actor Bruce McGill (his “two new older brothers”) who subsequently got him “stoned and drunk for the very first time.” Later, Stern describes learning everything he knew about the difference between acting for theater and movies from Heard and using those lessons in his own film debut, Breaking Away.
The most affecting part of the note comes when Stern recounts how Heard was always quick to treat Stern and his new wife to a meal when they were still struggling, and how those parental instincts resurfaced when Heard himself became a father.
Stern closes the note with a summation of his friend’s life. “Too bad his theater performances are gone with the wind because he was riveting on stage,” Stern writes. “But nothing was more intense than John’s performance in life. He lived it hard, fast and fearlessly. He was a romantic and a raconteur. He was as loyal and generous as they come. He was a friend and a brother and a legend in his time.”
(Via Daniel Stern on Twitter)