Robert Forster

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For other people named Robert Forster, see Robert Forster (disambiguation).
Robert Forster
Robert Forster 2009.jpg
Forster attending "Heroes For Autism" event at Avalon, Hollywood, CA on April 19, 2009
Born Robert Wallace Foster, Jr.
(1941-07-13) July 13, 1941 (age 73)
Rochester, New York, US
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–present

Robert Forster (born July 13, 1941) is an American actor, best known for his roles as John Cassellis in Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool, and as Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, the latter of which gained him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He has recently appeared as George Clooney's father-in-law in Alexander Payne's The Descendants and as an Army general in Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen. He is a member of the Triple Nine Society.

Early life[edit]

Forster was born Robert Wallace Foster, Jr. in Rochester, New York, the son of Grace Dorothy (née Montanarella) and Robert Wallace Foster, Sr., who worked as an elephant trainer for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and later as an executive for a baking supply company.[1][2] His mother was Italian American and his father was of English and Irish ancestry.[3] The two divorced in 1949. As a tribute to his father, Forster hung one of his father's Barnum & Bailey Circus posters in the office of his character "Max Cherry" in the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown.

Forster completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1964 at the University of Rochester, where he starred in student dramatic performances such as Bye Bye Birdie and, after initially intending to go on to study law, instead decided to forgo his future legal career in favor of acting.


After acclaimed supporting performances in two major Hollywood films, one as Private Williams in John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), another as part-Indian Army scout Nick Tana in Robert Mulligan's The Stalking Moon (1968), Forster starred in the critically acclaimed 1969 film Medium Cool. After starring roles in the TV shows Banyon (1972) and Nakia (1974), he played mostly supporting roles in action and horror films including Disney's The Black Hole (1979). Forster had lead roles in cult B-movies in the 1980s like Alligator (1980), Vigilante (1983), The Delta Force (1986), and The Banker (1989). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997 for Jackie Brown, which he credits with reviving his career. He has since had consistent work in the film industry, appearing in Like Mike; Mulholland Drive; Me, Myself, & Irene; Lucky Number Slevin and Firewall, to name a few. He recently appeared in the made for television movie The Hunt for the BTK Killer, as the detective intent on capturing serial killer Dennis Rader. Forster also played the father of Van on the short-lived Fox series Fastlane.

Forster recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's 'Hip-Hop Literacy' campaign, encouraging reading of books by Elmore Leonard (he starred in the movie adaption of Leonard's book Rum Punch, filmed as Jackie Brown). Forster is also a motivational speaker.

Forster appeared in the hit NBC show Heroes as Arthur Petrelli, the father of Nathan and Peter Petrelli, as well as the Emmy award winning AMC crime drama Breaking Bad as Walter White's new identity specialist.

Twice divorced, Forster is a father of four children. His eldest child, Kate Forster (born 1969), has worked as an actress, also appearing in Mulholland Drive.


Year Title Role Notes
1967 Reflections in a Golden Eye Private L.G. Williams
1967 N.Y.P.D. Tony (TV series, 1 episode: "To Catch a Hero")
1968 Judd, for the Defense Ray Elliott (TV series, 1 episode: "In a Puff of Smoke")
1968 The Stalking Moon Nick Tana
1969 Justine Narouz
1969 Medium Cool John Cassellis
1970 Cover Me Babe Tony Hall
1971–1973 Banyon Miles Banyon (TV series, 9 episodes)
1973 The Don Is Dead Frank
1974 Nakia Deputy Nakia Park (TV series, 14 episodes)
1975–1977 Police Story Bob Vandon (TV series, 5 episodes)
1977 Stunts Glen Wilson
1978 Avalanche Nick Thorne
1979 The Lady in Red Turk Uncredited
1979 The Black Hole Captain Dan Holland
1980 Alligator David
1981 Goliath Awaits Jeff Selrik Television movie
1981 Heartbreak High Coach Alan Arnoldi
1983 Vigilante Eddie Marino
1983 Walking The Edge Jason Walk
1985 Hollywood Harry Harry Petry also producer and director
1985 Magnum, P.I. Tyler Peabody McKinney (TV series, 2 episodes)
1986 The Delta Force Abdul Rafai
1986 Tales from the Darkside Gary Gooley (TV series, 1 episode: "The Milkman Cometh")
1989 The Banker Dan
1990 Checkered Flag Jack Cotton
1990 Peacemaker Yates
1991 29th Street Srgt. Tartaglia
1994 American Yakuza Littman
1996 Original Gangstas Detective Slatten
1997 Demolition University Gentry
1997 American Perfekt Jake Nyman
1997 Jackie Brown Max Cherry Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1998 Psycho Dr. Simon
1998 Rear Window Detective Charlie Moore Television movie
1998 Outside Ozona Odell Parks
1999 It's the Rage Tyler
1999 Kiss Toledo Goodbye Sal Fortuna
2000 Supernova A.J. Marley
2000 Lakeboat Joe Kitko
2000 Me, Myself & Irene Colonel Parington
2000 Diamond Men Eddie Miller Hamptons International Film Festival: Special Recognition
2001 Mulholland Dr. Detective Harry McKnight
2001 Human Nature Nathan's father
2001 Finder's Fee Officer Campbell
2002 Like Mike Coach Wagner
2002 Lone Hero Gus
2002 Strange Hearts Jack Waters
2002–2003 Fastlane Raymond Ray (TV series, 2 episodes)
2002 Murder in Greenwich Steve Carroll Television movie
2003 Confidence Morgan Price
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Roger Wixon
2003 Grand Theft Parsons Stanley Parsons
2003–2004 Karen Sisco Marshall Cisco (TV series, 10 episodes)
2004–2005 Huff Buff Huffstodt (TV series, 4 episodes)
2005 The Hunt for the BTK Killer Detective Jason Magida
2006 Numb3rs Agent Thomas Lawson (TV series, 1 episode: "Protest")
2006 Firewall Harry Romano
2006 Lucky Number Slevin Murphy
2007 D-War Wilson
2007 Rise Lloyd
2007 Cleaner Arlo Grange
2007 Desperate Housewives Nick Delfino (TV series, 1 episode: "Now I Know, Don't Be Scared")
2008 Jack and Jill vs. the World Norman
2008 Heroes Arthur Petrelli (TV series, 9 episodes)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television
2009 Thick as Thieves Lt. Weber
2009 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Srgt. Volkom
2010 Middle Men Louie
2011 Girl Walks Into a Bar Dodge
2011 CSI: NY Joe Vincent (TV series, 1 episode)
2011 The Descendants Scott Thorson Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2012 Alcatraz Ray Archer (TV series, 4 episodes)
2012 Transformers: Prime General Bryce (TV series, 1 episode)
2012 Last Man Standing Bud Baxter (TV series, 4 episodes)
2013 Olympus Has Fallen General Edward Clegg
2013 Breaking Bad Ed (TV Series, 1 episode: "Granite State")
Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television
2014 Autómata Post-production


Further reading[edit]

  • Voisin, Scott, "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting." BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59393-342-5.

External links[edit]