Miguel Ferrer, star of 'RoboCop,' 'NCIS: Los Angeles' and 'Twin Peaks,' dies at 61

Miguel Ferrer, an actor with a long list of credits ranging from “Twin Peaks” to his current role on CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles,” died of cancer on Thursday. He was 61.

A fixture on TV and in movies since the 1980s, Ferrer’s reputation as a scene-stealer began with 1987’s “RoboCop,” where he played Bob Morton, the conniving corporate executive who designed the film’s title cyborg. His other landmark role was as FBI agent Albert Rosenfield in David Lynch’s landmark series “Twin Peaks,” along with its corresponding film, “Fire Walk With Me.”

Ferrer reprised the role in the upcoming return of the series,  which is set to debut in May on Showtime.

“Great talent, better man,” wrote “Twin Peaks” co-creator Mark Frost on Twitter. “Working & writing for him was a highlight in every part of my life.”

Since 2012, Ferrer had appeared on “NCIS: Los Angeles” as Owen Granger, the unit’s assistant director. In the series’ most recent episode, last week, Granger was stabbed, leaving his fate in doubt.

The series’ show runner, R. Scott Gemmill, said in a statement, “Today, ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ lost a beloved family member. Miguel was a man of tremendous talent who had a powerful dramatic presence on screen, a wicked sense of humor, and a huge heart.”

Born in Santa Monica in 1955 as part of a powerful Hollywood family as son of Oscar-winner José Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney — and cousin of George Clooney  — Ferrer began his show business career as a drummer. He performed on the 1975 solo album by the Who’s drummer Keith Moon, “Two Sides of the Moon,” and backed Clooney on her mid-1970s tour with her “White Christmas” co-star Bing Crosby. 

“I played with her from about the time I was 18, and I conducted for her many times, too,” Ferrer told the Cincinatti Enquirer in 2002. “There was not a night I didn't want to pinch myself and say, ‘Look what I'm doing!' ”

Ferrer in 1977 switched his focus to acting, landing small roles on “Magnum, P.I.,” “Hill Street Blues” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” before his breakthrough role in “RoboCop.” Given his father’s track record as an actor, it wasn’t a decision he came to lightly.

"That can be an intimidating thing to try and do what he does so well," Ferrer told The Times in 1990. “It took me a while to become sure enough to try it out and be able to call my dad and say, 'Guess what? I am going to take a whack at what you do. What do you think?' "

He worked steadily, appearing in the horror film “DeepStar Six” as well as a TV version of  Stephen King’s “The Stand” in 1994. He also portrayed Chief medical examiner Dr. Garret Macy opposite Jill Hennessy on NBC’s “Crossing Jordan” from 2001 to 2007. 

The actor also worked in animated films, providing the voice for the ruthless Hun Shan Yu in 1998’s “Mulan” and other voices in 2014’s “Rio 2” and  the Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time.”  He teamed up with his friend Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) in 1987 to create the Marvel comic book character Comet Man.

His stint on “Twin Peaks” was a career highlight, and he knew it made a huge impact on his career. "I think it's so cool," he told The Times when the series was on the air. "Now I know my future is somewhat secure, because 20 years from now, I will be able to do 'Twin Peaks' conventions. I will never starve.”

George Clooney commented on his cousin’s passing, issuing a statement that reads: “Today history will mark giant changes in our world, and lost to most will be that on the same day Miguel Ferrer lost his battle to throat cancer. But not lost to his family. Miguel made the world brighter and funnier, and his passing is felt so deeply in our family that events of the day, (monumental  events), pale in comparison. We love you Miguel. We always will.”

Ferrer is survived by his wife, Lori, and two sons, Lukas and Rafi.

chris.barton@latimes.com

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.

 

 


UPDATES:

9:37 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from George Clooney.

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