He may have only rarely acted as a leading man, but his stern yet handsome looks and gravelly voice made him an immediate standout in countless supporting parts. Veteran character actor Powers Boothe has passed away at the age of 68.
Often, when an actor is credited with a strong, masculine name like “Powers Boothe,” you expect that it’s probably a stage name he chose for himself to replace something less screen-friendly. In this case, however, the man was actually born Powers Allen Boothe, the son of a Texan rancher.
Early in his career, Boothe gained great acclaim and an Emmy Award for playing infamous cult leader Jim Jones in the 1980 television movie ‘Guyana Tragedy’. The role showcased his intensity and charisma. Director Walter Hill took note and cast him as one of the primary members of a National Guard troop chased through a Louisiana swamp by angry Cajuns in the ‘Deliverance’ knockoff ‘Southern Comfort‘. The film was a financial failure, but found some rediscovery on home video years later. The actor then had a memorable appearance as the Air Force pilot who helps a group of high school kids fends off a Russian invasion in the silly World War III fantasy ‘Red Dawn‘. Critics of the day scoffed at the movie, but it was a big box office hit and has become a somewhat iconic piece of ’80s nostalgia.
Boothe’s ability to deliver a menacing stare and raspy growl made him a natural fit for Westerns and villain roles (the two of which often combined). He reunited with Walter Hill by playing an evil drug lord in ‘Extreme Prejudice’. Two of his most famous parts were the colorful outlaw Curly Bill in ‘Tombstone‘ and ruthless saloon owner Cy Tolliver in the HBO series ‘Deadwood‘.
Ethically-challenged politicians were another specialty. Boothe played White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig in Oliver Stone’s bio-pic ‘Nixon‘, a corrupt Senator in ‘Sin City‘, and a morally ambiguous Vice President (later President) in Season 6 of ’24’.
In recent years, Boothe joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a cameo in ‘The Avengers‘ which later expanded to become a major antagonist in the third season of the ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ television series. He was nominated (along with the rest of the cast) for a Screen Actors Guild award for the ‘Hatfields & McCoys‘ miniseries, and played Connie Britton’s father on the musical drama ‘Nashville’.
According to his publicist, the actor died in his sleep of natural causes. No further details are available at the time of this writing.
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]