The sad news that Ed Lauter had passed away hit the mainstream media on Wednesday (October 16, 2013), as his characteristic and unique roles started flooding into the zeitgeist. During a career that spanned five decades, Lauter would fill the shoes of many characters.

Ed Lauter MovieguideLauter was known for his wide-ranging roles

It would be fair to describe Lauter’s time on the screen – both silver and small – as varied. He was a journeyman of the industry, applying the same attitude and refined skill to a hardened thug and dutiful butler alike.

Perhaps not what he’ll be remembered for, not by the younger generation anyway, was his time with Alfred Hitchcock during the legendary director’s last film, Family Plot. Lauter played Joseph Maloney in the classic.

"I tell you, there are a lot of stories about Hitch, about how badly he was supposed to treat his actors, but my experience couldn't have been further from that," Lauter told The Screen Lounge. "He was so nice to me; there was time for rehearsing, for suggestions. I used to join him for lunch in the commissary, he'd be sitting there and I'd just pull up a chair and he'd tell me these terrific stories from his career about guys like Charles Laughton and Montgomery Clift."

Most recently, Lauter was seen in The Artist, playing the butler/chauffeur of Peppy, the un-expecting starlet, who, having bumped into George Valentine, becomes involved in the legend’s decline.

He was especially drawn to, or sought after for, sports films. The Longest Yard, Trouble With the Curve and Youngblood represent just three of the sport-based movies he starred in, but it’s the former that will probably go down as his most memorable performance.

In The Longest Yard, Lauter plays the guards' leader and coach, Captain Wilhelm Knauer. He’s a tough, uncompromising man, uncomfortable with the exertions placed upon him by the prison warden, who wants a football match between the guards and the prisoners thrown. In an interview with The Screen Lounge, Lauter explained how the role launched his career.

Ed Lauter
Ed Lauter: 1938 - 2013

"Robert Aldrich, who directed it, said to me, 'Now Eddie, I've seen a lot of your movies and shows, but tell me, I want to see you go out to the park and throw a football,'" he said.

"So we got in a car, and we drove to a park, and I threw a football to this guy, and he dropped it, and Bob said, 'OK, you can handle a ball, you got the part, get back in the car.'"

Ed Lauter died on Wednesday, October 16th. He was 74.