On Friday, the saga of Breaking Bad returned to give us a story fans did not know they wanted. It was an emotional send-off for one of our favorite characters, Jesse Pinkman.
The film is riddled with cameos including Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Jesse Plemmons as Todd, Krysten Ritter as Jane and so many more. But outside of Plemmons, no other cameo matched the understated performance of Robert Forster as Ed the “vacuum salesman.”
And sadly, as Forster’s character helped fans give our good pal Jesse the proper goodbye, we were unaware that soon after, we would also have to say goodbye to Robert Forster as well.
Remembering Robert Forster
According to Hollywood Reporter, Forster died of brain cancer on October 11– the same day as the release of El Camino– at the age of 78.
Forster’s career spanned the length of five decades, making appearances in film and television since 1967. One of his first roles was Reflections in a Golden Eye which also starred Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. From there, he made various appearances on shows like Magnum P.I., Police Story, Walker Texas Ranger, and Murder She Wrote with film appearances here and there.
By the time the 90s rolled around, his career had taken a nosedive. When all of a sudden, he got a second lease on his career by making friends with Quentin Tarantino. He was first considered for a role in Reservoir Dogs but the opportunity did not pan out.
However, as Forster told Fandor, Tarantino never forgot him and wanted to work together. So, when Jackie Brown was being drafted, the director wrote the character Max Cherry with the intention of casting Robert Forster.
The collaboration would lead to a Best Supporting Actor nomination by the Academy. And just like that, Forster had a career reboot. This would lead to major roles in films like Mulholland Dr., Me, Myself & Irene, Confidence, Lucky Number Slevin, and even blockbusters like Charlie’s Angels.
Many have fond memories of his role in The Descendants, where he punched an immature teenager for laughing. It’s such a rough scene that ends on the most uncomfortably hilarious note of the film.
I am heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of Robert Forster. My god. I had the privilege of knowing this beautiful man and working along side of him. A true gentleman that loved to act. I love you my friend. Thank you for loving me. You are and always will be a legend. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/CokPGjIDzU
— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) October 12, 2019
Robert Forster’s last moments in El Camino
Spoiler warning for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Those who have seen El Camino are aware of the importance Forster’s character played in the film. Jesse Pinkman has to get enough money to use Ed’s services to relocate with a new identity to Alaska.
Forster always brought a warmth to his role that made him seem like a fatherly version of Harvey Keitel’s portrayal of Winston Wolfe from Pulp Fiction. He cares about the people he helps to a point. But he takes his job seriously with firm principles.
But he’s also intentional with his clients. As Jesse points out to Ed about his new home in Alaska, “It’s quiet”, to which he responds, “Yeah. Figured you could use some of that.”
As Jesse bids farewell to Ed, he gives him a letter to send someone but the show never addresses who it’s for. Forster carefully reads it and says on his next trip to Mexico he’ll put it in the mail and they part ways.
And while we may never know what was in that letter, I like to think that it was a heartfelt goodbye to the actor as he and Aaron Paul parted ways forever. It was the perfect end to an underrated Holywood legend.
Robert Forster can be seen on El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which is streaming now on Netflix.
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