A Damn Fine Actor: Remembering Miguel Ferrer

Enthralled is the word I’m going to go with. I was enthralled with Robocop the first time I set eyes on the sci-fi classic. With Peter Weller as the title character to be sure, but also with the young, punk executive who saw an opportunity and seized it. He was no-nonsense, tough and devoured whenever he appeared on screen.

My thoughts mimicked those of his Bob Morton character, “I fuckin’ love that guy!”

His name was Miguel Ferrer, and he succumbed to cancer today at the age of 61.

Funny how someone you never met could have such a lasting impact. Robocop has a special place in my heart because of where I was in my life when I took it all in, and so too Miguel Ferrer.

Forever a character actor who appeared in countless successful films and television projects, I could never shake the thought, “I fuckin’ love that guy!” or wrap my head around the fact that he wasn’t a bigger star.

For years I had described New York Yankees and future Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter as a superstar with the heart of a utility player. Ferrer was the mirror opposite as a performer. Ferrer possessed the talent of a superstar with the heart of a complimentary actor.

And compliment he did.

When I first arrived at iHorror, I was looking for a new addiction, and Patti Pauley put me on to “Twin Peaks.” I cannot thank her enough for exposing me to that beautifully strange slice of pie.

One can imagine my glee when I saw not only the name of Everett McGill in the credits, but Miguel Ferrer as well.

Albert Rosenfield was a bit bereft of “the social niceties.” Put another way, he was a prick of monumental proportion in the early going. Cold, clinical, condescending, cocky. Hell, even Andy (Harry Goaz) called him out, and Andy loved everybody.

Somewhere along the line, though, things changed. Ferrer’s character was no longer unlikable, he ceased spewing anger and began speaking with affection and admiration, and damned if he wasn’t worthy of being a Bookhouse Boy.

It was a turnaround that came about so abruptly that it seemed unreal, but that was in keeping with the charm of “Twin Peaks.” It didn’t have to make sense, you just went with it.

From that moment forward, Ferrer’s presence offered incredible humanity to the show. For all its quirks and over-the-top qualities, Ferrer felt authentic. In his characters’ unrivaled forensic research, comforting Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and imploring Cooper and Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) to find the beast before he took another bite.

In short, if you were lucky enough to see Ferrer on screen, you were buying in. Whether it was humor, confidence, abrasiveness, sympathy or concern, you were all-in because Ferrer’s performances felt genuine, even when they were intended to be caricatures of a cliche.

I’ll finish with this, because it just feels like the right way to say goodbye. And I think I speak for “Twin Peaks” fans everywhere when I say “We love you, too.”