'Roadhouse' villain Ben Gazzara, 81, dies
Ben Gazzara still gives me nightmares from his performance in 1989's Roadhouse. Not because I once had a career as a bar bouncer, or had to fight the town bully, or even lived in a barn with nature's air conditioning. No, because there's that one scene with Gazzara (as "Brad Wesley") drinking down the road, swerving side to side without a care in the world and running co-star Patrick Swayze off the road.
Every time I see a car swerve to this day, I picture Ben Gazzara behind the wheel. It's an irrational fear, but it keeps me alert while driving.
Gazzara died Friday in New York at age 81. Like his co-star Swayze, the cause of death was pancreatic cancer. He appeared in about a dozen movies in the '80s.
"If Mr. Gazzara never achieved Brando’s stature, that was partly because of a certain laissez-faire approach to his career: an early suspicion of film, a reluctance to go after desirable roles," the New York Times wrote in its obituary.
"When I became hot, so to speak, in the theater, I got a lot of offers,' he said in a 1998 interview on Charlie Rose, according to the Times. "I won't tell you the pictures I turned down because you would say, 'You are a fool.' And I was a fool."