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Brian Dennehy was ‘a tough guy’ but also a real sweetheart, his famous friends say

Brian Dennehy in the 2018 Geffen Playhouse production of Eugene O'Neill's "Hughie."
Brian Dennehy in the 2018 Geffen Playhouse production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie.”
(Jeff Lorch)

Brian Dennehy, the 6-foot-3 Irish American character actor who died Wednesday night at 81, inspired some Irish-style storytelling among the celebrities who reacted Thursday to his death.

“‘Character actors! Who gives a ... if we’re fat?,” Patton Oswalt tweeted profanely about his “Ratatouille” costar, alluding to what Dennehy allegedly told him when the actors ran into each other at a buffet at the “Batman Begins” premiere. “You were the best rat-dad a little chef could ask for. Miss you, man.”

Tom Arnold had his own story about working on the 2019 movie “3 Days With Dad” with Dennehy, who had close to 200 film and TV credits to his name.

“We were shooting 3 Days With Dad & I’m basically carrying terminally ill dad Brian Dennehy from his hospital bed to the bathroom over & over. He’s not a frail old man. He’s a bull. 10th take I ask Brian for some help. Fake it a bit. Bad idea. 11th take was unpleasant. RIP,” Arnold tweeted.

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Brian Dennehy, the burly actor who started in films as a macho heavy and later in his career won plaudits for his stage work in plays by William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, has died. He was 81.

“I’ve never laughed so hard as we did every day on the set or off. for a big ‘tough guy,’ he was a sweetheart,” tweeted James Woods, who costarred with Dennehy in “Split Image” and “Best Seller.”

Here is a sampling of celebrity reactions to Dennehy’s passing, which his daughter Elizabeth Dennehy said was from natural causes.

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