Remembering Michael Parks

Michael Parks was a national treasure, and we lost him on May 9th 2017. 

Michael Parks was known for his filmography AND discography for over 50 years. While he was known for being the star of Then Came Bronson from 1969-1970, as well as many other films from throughout his career, I wasn't introduced to him until I was 12 years old. Shamefully I was introduced to him in many of Quentin Tarantino's films. Though, it's pretty bad ass that several outstanding directors wrote roles specifically for him including Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, and David Lynch.

I remember watching him as Earl McGraw and Esteban in the Kill Bill movies as well as From Dusk Til Dawn. This was in the height of my childish love for all things Tarantino (Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy those films). After watching these movies and hearing my brother in-law and sister talk non-stop about him, I felt like I wanted to be part of their world. It felt like a special Michael Parks fan club. This inspired me to discover Twin Peaks where he plays Jean Renault. It would seem like this character was great practice before portraying the role of Esteban.

Throughout my teenage and young adult years I was always interested in Parks' work which is why I was over the moon to watch Kevin Smith's movie Red State. I had already considered myself an annoying Kevin Smith fan to friends and family so I was okay with enjoying this one on my own (especially considering my family was -- and still is -- an extremely Christian conservative one). He played the hell out of his character in that movie and frankly, it was terrifying. Where else can you find a movie that is a frighteningly similar portrayal of the Westboro Baptist Church?

After purchasing Kevin Smith's book Tough Shit, I remember re-reading the three chapters dedicated to Red State and Michael Parks. Over and over again. I could not get enough of reading about Tarantino watching Red State with Kevin and Parks at Tarantino's house in his personal theater. It was beautifully written, and it wasn't until then that I felt like I was truly in the Michael Parks fan club. It was a great story about Kevin Smith watching his film with two of his idols, while Tarantino introduced him to a back catalog he had created of Parks' works. While reading this it made me think, "Who else out there in the world is reading this and tearing up from smiling so hard?"

Meeting Michael Parks was the single most memorable experience I have ever had at a convention. Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas, TX in 2014 was -- and is still -- one of my favorite years to attend. After waiting countless hours in line to meet guests, I meandered into the Made In Texas room at the convention to find none other than THE Micheal Parks. Sitting alone. With no line. Signing no autographs. For a moment I almost peed with excitement. However, a feeling of sympathy came over me. Here was Parks, a fucking legend, sitting alone next to Chandler Riggs' booth (The Walking Dead) with 80+ people in line. The first words out of my mouth when saying hello were. "Wow, you should have all of those people over there in your line!" I immediately felt awful after realizing what a fragile state he was in.

I wanted to apologize, but before I could, he asked me to come around the table and sit next to him. I probably sat with him for a good 20 minutes. I asked him what is was like to work with Kevin knowing that at the time TUSK has just wrapped. He was real good about not breaking any NDA's and proceeded to talk about Red State. I realized years later why he might have wanted to talk about it. He loved music. He even wrote an entire album while filming Red State, and for a short while, it was available on the movie website shortly after premiering. He was an outstanding musician. A real down to earth country singer. I was lucky enough to be gifted one of his albums recently. It's called Closing the Gap. It is one of my most valued treasures. He released about eight records as far as I know.

Michael Parks left behind a huge body of work that will be cherished for many years. Hell, even now I am still trying to catch up and watch all of his movies. He was a talented actor, musician, father, and friend to many. He was truly one of a kind.

How do YOU remember Michael Parks?

 

Hope Havoc