M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner’ actor, dies from cardiac arrest

M. Emmet Walsh attends the Premiere of Lionsgate's "Knives Out" at Regency Village Theatre on November 14, 2019 in Westwood, California. (Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Actor M. Emmet Walsh, known by fans as a character actor in films including "Blade Runner" and "Blood Simple," has passed away. He was 88 years old.

His manager confirmed the news to the Associated Press Thursday of the actor’s passing. Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont.

Appearing in more than 230 roles during his career, the actor often played good old boys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare leading roles as a crooked Texas private detective in the Coen brothers’ first film, the 1984 neo-noir "Blood Simple."

Joel and Ethan Coen said they wrote the part for Walsh, who would win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead for the role.

In 1982's gritty, "Blade Runner, he also played a hard-nosed police captain who pulls Harrison Ford from retirement to hunt down cyborgs.

Born Michael Emmet Walsh, Walsh was raised on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border.

Walsh slowly started making film appearances in 1969 with a bit role in "Alice’s Restaurant," and did not start playing prominent roles until nearly a decade after that when he was in his 40s, getting his breakthrough with 1978’s "Straight Time," in which he played Dustin Hoffman's smug, boorish parole officer.

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Of Irish descent, he also held roles in other notable movies and television series including the 1979 Steve Martin comedy "The Jerk," and as prostate-examining doctor in the 1985 Chevy Chase vehicle "Fletch." More recently he played Mr. Proofroc in "Knives Out," directed by Rian Johnson.

Johnson was among those who paid tribute to Walsh on social media.

"Emmet came to set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a small-type single spaced double column list of modern classics that filled a whole page, & two-dollar bills which he passed out to the entire crew," Johnson tweeted. "'Don’t spend it and you’ll never be broke.' Absolute legend."

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.