Sometimes it doesn’t take a big role for an actor to make a huge mark on a film, and Robert Harris’ brief appearance in 2002’s Cabin Fever is the perfect example of an actor shining bright with only a few lines of dialogue. Today, we’re sad to report, Harris has passed away.
Robert Harris played Old Man Cadwell in Eli Roth’s debut feature, the jovial owner of a convenience store the main characters visit at the start of the film. When they ask why he has a rifle in the shop, his answer leads us to believe he’s racist, and the movie humorously ends by showing us what he really meant.
Check out Harris’ two main scenes below, joined together into one video.
Though he had been a theater actor for nearly his whole life, it wasn’t until Cabin Fever that a 72-year-old Robert Harris received his Screen Actors Guild card, as it was his first actual role in a feature film. He had previously been an extra in movies like Summer Catch, Above Suspicion and Juwanna Mann.
After Cabin Fever, Harris made minor appearances in a handful of other films, including Junebug, Eyeborgs, and most recently, Rodney Cecil: Psycho Hero. But it was his role in Roth’s infection film that brought Harris his greatest notoriety, leading to several appearances at fan conventions.
The news of Robert Harris’ passing comes courtesy of Eli Roth, who wrote up the following tribute on his Facebook page.
“#TBT in honor of the great Robert Harris, who passed away today at the age of 85. He was truly one of the sweetest most lovely and lively people I ever had the honor of working with. Cabin Fever was his first movie after a lifetime in theater and for the North Carolina premiere he rented a Bentley and wore a tux. That guy had style! He also had amazing improv skills, his whole Shirley Temple bottle rant was done in one take. He did theater in North Carolina and always was the local Santa Claus. I’ll never forget how hard we all laughed filming that final scene with the rifle, he just made the whole moment perfect. Robert Harris you will be missed.”
All of us here on iHorror send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Robert Harris. He leaves behind a memorable performance that will forever make us smile.