Seven years ago, Breaking Bad creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan cast Robert Forster in an episode from the final batch of episodes of his AMC series as the laconic Ed, a man of many trades. The character popped, and years later, Gilligan brought him back in his El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. The film debuted on Netflix and in select theaters on Friday, the day Forster passed away at age 78.
After taking the weekend to process the actor’s death, Gilligan paid heartfelt tribute to Forster, recounting a touching personal story and comparing the talented performer to Spencer Tracy. Here is what Gilliagn had to say:
For seven years, I’ve had a letter opener on my bedside table. It’s a sort of Art Moderne steel teardrop, graceful yet substantial. Robert Forster gave it to me when we first met. He was in the habit of giving them to people he felt he’d had interesting interactions with. Everywhere he went, he carried dozens of them, individually boxed and gift-wrapped. I remember them being in a sack, the way Santa Claus would do it. I asked how many he’d given away over the years. He said he’d lost count.
I think of Bob as the Spencer Tracy of his generation. He’d never let anybody catch him at acting, but he was so damned great at it. Graceful yet substantial. In a just universe, he’d have a shelf full of Oscars. Even so, I can’t imagine him worrying much about that.
He was such a good guy. He always reminded me of my Dad… which is weird, because they’re not much alike. I’ll bet he reminded a lot of people of their Dads.
Gilligan joins El Camino and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul who on Saturday posted an emotional tribute to the Oscar nominated actor who died from brain cancer at age 78.
Forster earned a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television for his performance in the 2013 Breaking Bad’s Granite State episode as Ed, the mild mannered owner of an Albuquerque, New Mexico vacuum cleaner sales and services store whose real skill was giving people complete new identities and getting them out of town – for a hefty fee.
Ed relocates Bryan Cranston’s Walter White to New Hampshire in the fifth and final season. The actor shows up significantly in the just launched El Camino feature to perform a similar function for Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman.
Breaking Bad star Cranston remembered Forster in a Twitter post on Friday.