As I write it is the day after the announcement that Michael Parks had died. In a curious instance of synchronicity, today in the post I received a Blu-ray of John Huston’s The Bible: In the Beginning... in which a young Parks played Adam, while this evening I reached episode 10 of Twin Peaks - a series I’m in the process of re-watching - in which Parks makes his first appearance as Jean Renault.
If you don’t know the name it’s likely you will have seen some of Michael Parks' work. My first exposure to him was in the aforementioned The Bible, which I first saw as a child and is that rare thing: a biblical film that isn’t moronic. It’s more faithful to Scripture than most and visually spectacular. Parks makes a dramatic entrance as a nude Adam emerging out of the red clay earth at the edge of Eden, while his reaction the morning after his first experience of 'being fruitful' with Eve is rather charming.
However, I only really became aware of Parks as a performer via his roles for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino: he had a memorable cameo in From Dusk Till Dawn as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, a role he would reprise in Kill Bill (which I happened to watch at the weekend) and Death Proof. I consider him the equal of Samuel L. Jackson in terms of his ability of elevate Tarantino's dialogue beyond good to great.
Parks was one of those character actors who rarely played the lead but would improve every film he appeared in, no matter how small the part. He could chew scenery or be understated but was never less than compelling. He will be missed.