NYT Obituary: Miguel Ferrer, Celebrated as a Film and TV Tough Guy, Dies at 61


An obituary by Richard Sandomir for the New York Times.

Miguel Ferrer, who followed his mother, Rosemary Clooney, and his Academy Award-winning father, Jose, into acting and often portrayed lawmen and tough guys, died on Thursday at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 61.

CBS said the cause was cancer.

At his death Mr. Ferrer had been playing Owen Granger, the assistant director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, on the CBS crime series “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

He had also recently reprised his role as the abrasive F.B.I. forensics expert Albert Rosenfield in a revival of the quirky “Twin Peaks” series, which is to start in May on Showtime.

In a career whose breakout role was Bob Morton, a cocaine-sniffing executive in “RoboCop,” Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film about an armored cyborg in a dystopian Detroit, Mr. Ferrer often embraced nefarious characters and imbued decent ones with mystery.

“I think villainy just comes naturally to me,” he said in an interview with OK!TV. “I get it work it out naturally so I can be a nice person in life.”

Mr. Ferrer joined “NCIS: Los Angeles” — whose cast includes Linda Hunt, LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell — during its third season, in 2012. In an episode this season, his character underwent tests for an undisclosed illness; in another, he was stabbed.

“Miguel was as man of tremendous talent who had a powerful dramatic presence onscreen, a wicked sense of humor and a huge heart,” said R. Scott Gemmill, the showrunner for “NCIS: Los Angeles,” a spinoff of “NCIS.”

He had previously worked for six seasons on “Crossing Jordan,” an NBC series in which he played the chief medical examiner to Jill Hennessy, a crime-solving doctor.

“He was an embraceable scene-stealer,” Ms. Hennessy said in an interview. “He could command the screen by saying nothing, or with a sigh.” She added, “He really was a joyous, warm, relatable human being who was adept at playing these dark characters.”

Miguel Jose Ferrer was born into a show-business family in Santa Monica on Feb. 7, 1955. His father won the Academy Award for best actor in 1951 in the title role in “Cyrano de Bergerac.” His mother, Ms. Clooney, was one of the great popular singers of the first half of the 20th century. George Clooney is a cousin.

Jose Ferrer and Ms. Clooney, who were divorced twice, had two other sons, Gabriel and Rafael, and two daughters, Maria and Monsita.

Miguel Ferrer said that as a child he had been unaware of how accomplished his parents were or who their famous friends were.

“I just knew they were older and boring and always drunk and smoking a lot of cigarettes,” he told the Hallmark Channel. “They were kind of a drag.”

Mr. Ferrer was a drummer, not an actor, until his early 20s, playing behind his mother and Bing Crosby.

Eventually, though, he found his path to acting.

“Maybe I was intimidated by my father’s talent and success,” he told the website A.V. Club in 2009. “I made an enjoyable living as a very young man, but I think as I became more comfortable and knowledgeable about myself and what I wanted, I moved into acting.”

He credited his “RoboCop” role for turning his career around. He remembered the thrill of its release. “I think I drove around to every theater in Los Angeles in which it was playing and kind of stood in the back and watched the reaction,” he said.

His many roles since then have included appearances on “Desperate Housewives” and “Psych” on television and in the films “Iron Man 3” and Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of “The Manchurian Candidate.” He also provided the voice of animated characters in “Mulan” and “Rio 2.” Occasionally he detoured into comedies like “Will and Grace.”

He is survived by his wife, Lori Weintraub; two sons, Rafael and Lukas, from an earlier marriage, to Leilani Sarelle; two stepsons, Dan and Charlie Veytia, and four siblings.

David Lynch, the co-creator of “Twin Peaks,” said in an in interview on Friday, “I fell deeply in love with Miguel on the latest `Twin Peaks.’ I liked him before, but it wasn’t deep love. I just didn’t know him that well. This time I fell in love.”

He said that he had almost always called him Albert, the name of his character in the show, not Miguel.

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