Ed Lauter: He Played the Characters You Loved to Loathe

Unless you're the rare moviegoer or TV viewer who watches all the end credits, the name Ed Lauter probably won't ring a bell. But you'd surely  recognize his balding pate, angular nose and jutting, dimpled chin, and his narrow, perpetually squinting eyes.

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In his four decades as an actor, Lauter, who died on Oct. 16 at age 74 in West Hollywood, Calif., appeared in  more than 200 roles. They ranged from appearances in TV series such as  Mannix ,  Hawaii Five-O,   Law & Order, ER and  NYPD Blue to parts in the 1974 prison-football flick  The Longest Yard, Alfred Hitchcock's 1976 thriller  Family Plot and The Artist in 2011.

In a 2010 magazine interview, Lauter said he saw himself as a "turn actor," one whose entrance into a story quickly shifts the plot in an unexpected direction. And he admitted to relishing the chance to portray hard cases. As he explained: "I like those roles. Lee Marvin once told me, 'When you play a heavy, every once in a while make the audience like you a little bit. Then they'll think, Wait a minute, he's not such a bad guy. Did you see the way he petted that dog?'"

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Here are some of Lauter's career highlights:

  • The Longest Yard (1974). After a team of prisoners led by Burt Reynolds beats the guards in a football game, Lauter's Capt. Knauer spends a long moment staring at Reynolds through a rifle scope.
  • Family Plot (1976). Lauter's small but memorable role as a creepy, switchblade-wielding gas station attendant is one of the Hitchcock film's highlights.
  • Death Wish 3 (1985). As a cop who joins forces with the vigilante portrayed by Charles Bronson, Lauter racks up a body count of his own.
  • The Artist (2011).  Lauter won accolades for his portrayal of the butler and chauffeur to main female character Peppy (Berenice Bejo).


Lauter also was a gifted impressionist, a skill he displays in this 2012 video.



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