I’ve never met anyone quite like Robert Forster. He was uncommonly kind and generous to me and my family; I suspect there are scores of people who would tell you the same thing.
He had every right to be bitter, given the years he spent unemployed in Hollywood after such a promising start. Instead of licking his wounds he gave speeches—without pay—about the power of positive thinking. He was living proof of that conviction.
When Quentin Tarantino offered him a leading role in Jackie Brown, refusing to consider anyone else for the part of Max Cherry, he resuscitated Robert’s career and put him where he always belonged, in the spotlight. He never had to worry about work from that day on and enjoyed twenty years of nearly-nonstop activity. Filmmakers young and old came to rely on him and he never let them, or us in the audience, down.
He has only two scenes in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants but they absolutely enrich the film. The same could be said of his roles in such modest pictures as Small Town Crime, The Confirmation, and Too Late. David Lynch knew what he was doing when he cast Robert in his reboot of Twin Peaks; so did Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, who asked him to reprise his role from the final episode of that show in the new feature spinoff El Camino.
Some years ago I was given an award at a film festival way out of town and the people in charge asked who I would like to present it to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone driving that far on such a thankless errand, but I had to find a candidate. Robert said he’d be glad to do it. That show of friendship was typical of him, and just one reason my family and I are heartbroken.
As a side note, Robert was kind enough to appear on our podcast some time ago. The wisdom he shared knocked us off our feet. Jessie and I feel so lucky to have this beautiful memento. You can listen here: http://maltinonmovies.libsyn.com/robert-forster