Michael Parks, who played French-Canadian drug runner Jean Renault on Twin Peaks, has died aged 77. Parks was a well-known character actor, who appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol I and Vol II as Ranger Earl McGraw and Esteban Vihaio.
He was beamed into living rooms on the hugely popular TV series There CameBronson in the late 60s, but was eventually blacklisted in Hollywood because he fought against producers of the show, who wanted to make his character more aggressive and the show more violent. For standing his ground, Parks was decidedly not cast in much besides independent movies during the 70s and 80s.
Parks guest-starred on five episodes of Twin Peaks before he was killed off in episode 20. He was the soft-voiced kingpin Jean Renault – the eldest of the Renault brothers. In one of his more memorable scenes – probably one of the best character introductions on the show – he sits on the edge of Audrey Horne’s bed, waking her up and giving her English caramels. “Candy is dandy, yeah?” he says, popping one seductively into her mouth.
His soft voice belied a more sinister personality, but it was his faux-Québecois accent that he’ll likely be remembered for by fans of the cult series. People even use his scenes on Twin Peaks as ASMR.
Director Kevin Smith, who says he wrote his films Tusk and Red State“for Parks”. He said Johnny Depp and Parks were “like a couple of duelling wizards in their shared scene in Tusk”.
“Parks was in heaven that day, sharing the screen with another brilliant actor and creating an unforgettable performance. He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for. I was so fucking blessed to have worked with this bonafide genius. But really, I was just lucky to have known him at all.”
Parks is succeeded by his wife, Oriana, and son, James.