Philip Baker Hall, a prolific actor known for his character roles in "Boogie Nights", "The Truman Show," among many other films over five decades, passed away Sunday.
He was 90.
Holly Wolfle Hall, actor's wife, confirmed his death Monday to The Associated Press, saying that her husband of almost 40 years, died surrounded in Glendale, California.
Hall was an actor in Paul Thomas Anderson's early films. He starred as a sad-eyed veteran gambler, in "Hard Eight" (1996). Later, Hall played key roles in "Boogie Nights” (1997) and "Magnolia” (1999).
Anderson met Hall on the set for a PBS special in 1990, when Anderson was an aspiring filmmaker and production assistant.
Hall said that he was a living encyclopedia of film and knew everything," Playbill reported in 2000. "I asked Hall about his goals and he replied, "I would like to be a writer/director. And by the way, I'm doing an animated short, 'Cigarettes and Coffee', which has a great role for me."
Anderson created "Cigarettes and Coffee" with a very tight budget. He later used the same material to create "Hard Eight", which featured Hall and John C. Reilly.
Hall was a prominent figure in his career. He played Richard Nixon's paranoid and vindictive version in Robert Altman’s 1984 drama "Secret Honor". This drama, which was adapted from a one-person stage play, is one of his most memorable.
Roger Ebert gave a glowing review to the film and wrote, "Nixon is played by Philip Baker Hall. An actor previously unknown to us, with such savage intensity. Such passion. Such scandal. We cannot turn back."
Hall looks a lot like Nixon. He could be his cousin and he sounds a lot like him. Ebert said that it was close enough. This isn't an impersonation. It's a performance.
Hall was one of the most trusted character actors in the 1980s and 1990s. He appeared in "Midnight Run", "Say Anything," (1989), and "The Rock" (1996). Hall also appeared in "The Truman Show" (191998), "The Insider", (1999), and "The Talented Mister Ripley" (1999).
Hall was able to bring understated gravitas to any television or film project. His distinctive hangdog expressions, leathery voice and leathery voice made him instantly recognisable. He conveyed wisdom and melancholy with an air of ease.
Hall was offered a rich role in "Magnolia" as an alcoholic game host who is overcome by regret over his past sins and tries to reconcile with his daughter Melora Walters.
In a tweet, Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times reporter, said that Philip Baker Hall, my neighbor, friend and one of the most intelligent, most talented, and kindest people I've ever known, had died peacefully last night."
"He was surrounded with loved ones. Farmer said, "The world has an empty space."
Hall was born in Toledo, Ohio, on Sept. 10, 1931. Before moving to television and film, Hall started his career as a performer in theatre productions. He also guest-starred on "M*A*S*H", "Good Times," and other popular shows.
Hall is best known for his appearance on "Seinfeld" in the role of Lt. Joe Bookman. He is a hardboiled investigator determined to find a missing library copy of "Tropic of Cancer".
Hall stated to Rolling Stone that Lt. Bookman was one the most funny roles I auditioned for. This is because so many doors opened after I did the show.
"I recall Jerry [Seinfeld] having a difficult time keeping his straight face during the reading. He said, "Usually, when you read about things, no one talks too much, even though they like you." "But people were struggling to control their laughter."
Hall's performance as the Dunphy family neighbor on ABC's sitcom "Modern Family" made him a household name to a new generation. He was still a star in critically acclaimed films like "Zodiac" (2007) by David Fincher and "Argo" (2012) by Ben Affleck.
Hall gave advice to aspiring performers in a 2000 interview with Playbill, saying, "Keep working and do what you love."