Robert Z'Dar

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Robert Z'Dar
Robert James Zdarsky

(1950-06-03)June 3, 1950
DiedMarch 30, 2015(2015-03-30) (aged 64)
Other namesRobert Darcy, Robert West, Bobby Z'Dar, Bobby Zdar, Robert Zdar
OccupationActor, film producer
Years active1976–2015

Robert James Zdarsky (June 3, 1950 – March 30, 2015), better known by his stage name Robert Z'Dar, was an American character actor and film producer, best known for his role as officer Matt Cordell in the cult horror film Maniac Cop and its two sequels.[1]

Z'Dar worked mainly in low-budget B-movies and direct-to-video features, but occasionally in mainstream Hollywood films and television. Due to his cherubism, a medical condition resulting in an enlarged jawline, Z'dar had a unique and easily recognizable look with a slightly sinister appearance, which aided his career as he usually portrayed villains.[2][3]

A prolific actor, Z'Dar appeared in 121 films over the course of his 39-year career.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois,[4] Z'Dar was of Lithuanian descent. He first started acting while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z'Dar attended Arizona State University[4] where he received a BFA and played on the university football team.[1] After graduation, Z'Dar returned to Chicago where he was employed as a Chicago police officer, member of the band Nova Express, commercial jingle writer and Chippendales dancer.[4]

Acting career[edit]

Eventually Z'Dar moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. His first feature film appearance was in the women in prison film Hellhole (1985).[4]

Z'Dar appeared in several films, including Hot Chili (1985), The Night Stalker (1987), Cherry 2000 (1987), The Killing Game (1988), and Grotesque (1988). Z'Dar's name became recognizable when he played Matt Cordell in 1988's Maniac Cop, a film about a back from the dead hero NYPD cop turned evil avenger who brutally murders people.[5] Z'Dar reprised his role in the 1990 sequel and Badge of Silence (1993).[6]

It was perhaps Z'Dar's performance in Maniac Cop that landed him the role of "Face" in 1989's Tango & Cash, alongside action stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.[7] He went on to appear in films such as The Final Sanction (1990), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), Killing American Style (1990), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), Mobsters (1991), Samurai Cop (1991), Return to Frogtown (1993), Marching Out of Time (1993), Death from Above (2011), Meltdown (2009) and Easter Sunday (2014). It was Z'Dar's performance and unique appearance in Tango and Cash that inspired Sean Pertwee's facial technique and makeup in the film Dog Soldiers. Sean was quoted as being inspired by Z'Dar because, "[...] like me, he has unusual features that are almost designed to portray grimacing death with profound accuracy and very little effort".[8]

Robert Z'Dar appeared in more than 121 films and television episodes, with at least one film appearance per year in 27 of the last 29 years of his career (missing only 1986 and 2001).[1] He continued making at least one film every year despite a serious back injury he suffered in 2002 on a movie set. Two of Z'Dar's films, Soultaker (1992) and Future War (1997) appeared in season 10 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, increasing his renown somewhat.[9]

In 2012, he was inducted to International Indie Filmmakers Hall of Fame at The Indie Gathering film festival.[10]


While appearing at Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida, Z'Dar was hospitalized for chest pains. He seemed to recover, but subsequently went into cardiac arrest and died on March 30, 2015, one month after his hospitalization.[11]


Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Night Stalker Chuck Sommers
1987 Cherry 2000 Chet
1988 Maniac Cop Officer Matt Cordell / The Maniac Cop
1988 Killing American Style Tony Stone
1988 Grotesque Eric
1989 Tango & Cash "Face"
1990 The Final Sanction Sergei
1990 Maniac Cop 2 Officer Matt Cordell / The Maniac Cop
1990 Soultaker Angel of Death
1990 A Gnome Named Gnorm Reggie
1991 Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time Zavic
1991 Samurai Cop Yamashita Direct-to-video
1991 Mobsters Rocco

1991 “ Blood Money “

1992 Shadow of the Dragon Capt. Washington
1993 Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence Officer Matt Cordell / The Maniac Cop
1993 Return to Frogtown Sam Hell
1996 Red Line Gene
1997 Future War Cyborg Master
1997 Pocket Ninjas Cobra Khan
1999 Tyrone "Assface"
2009 Meltdown Eddie "Crazy Eddie"
2015 A Blood Story Gerry "The Jaw" Posthumous release
2016 Chasing Gold Roger Gleason
2019 High on the Hog The Mayor Posthumous release
2020 Spring Fever Roth "Chile" DeVille Posthumous release


  1. ^ a b c d Maniac Cop Actor Robert Z’Dar Dies at 64
  2. ^ (April 1, 2015). "'Maniac Cop' Actor Robert Z'Dar Dies at 64". Variety. Retrieved December 18, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Rahman, Abid (April 1, 2015). "Cult Actor Robert Z'Dar, Star of 'Maniac Cop' Series, Dies at 64". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 18, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c d R.I.P. Robert Z’Dar, cult actor and Maniac Cop
  5. ^ Hardy, Phil; Institute, British Film (1997). The BFI companion to crime. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-304-33215-1. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  6. ^ Newman, Kim (May 10, 2011). Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 385. ISBN 978-1-4088-0503-9. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Lindenmuth, Kevin J. (January 2002). The independent film experience: interviews with directors and producers. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7864-1075-0. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  8. ^ "32 Things We Learned from Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers Commentary". June 22, 2015.
  9. ^ Robert Z'Dar (1950 - 2015)
  10. ^ "Inductees".
  11. ^ Cult actor Robert Z'Dar dies in Pensacola

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