Fred Ward, 'Tremors' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' Actor, Dies at 79

Fred Ward
Michael Grecco

The acclaimed actor died on Sunday, according to his publicist.

Fred Ward, best known for his roles in Tremors, Remo Williams and playing Reese Witherspoon’s father in Sweet Home Alabama, has died. He was 79.

His publicist, Ron Hoffman, confirmed the news of the actor’s death to ET on Friday, sharing that Ward died on Sunday, May 8. No cause of death has been released at this time.

The Golden Globe winner impeccably portrayed a strong, often blunt, character throughout his career, while still retaining a likability that captured the hearts of viewers. Appearing in films such as The Right StuffTremorsHenry and June and The Player, Ward’s talent spanned a long career from the 1970s through his more recent role in the second season of HBO’s True Detective.

Ward's obituary notes, "The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices. He could play such diverse characters."

In the 1990 western-horror film Tremors, Ward starred as the character Earl Bassett alongside Kevin Bacon's Valentine McKee. The duo sidelined their quest to get out of a desolate Nevada town when the community is mysteriously plagued by underground snakes. 

Ward also appeared alongside Alec Baldwin in 1990's Miami Blues, where he played Sgt. Hoke Moseley in the violent comedy. 

In 2009, Ward portrayed President Ronald Reagan in the Cold War-centered movie Farewell. He also appeared in the 2013 movie 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. 

In addition to his film work, Ward was a recurring character on NBC’s ER. He also made appearances on shows like Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara.

Ward was from San Diego, California, and got into acting after serving three years in the United States Air Force. 

According to his publicist, it was Ward’s wish that any memorial tributes be made in the form of donations to the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center. 

The famed actor spent the final years of his life exploring a new artistic medium: painting.

Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France, as well as his son, Django, whom he shares with his first wife, Silvia.