I hope someone in Madrid is dimming the lights on the Schweppes sign; that would be a fitting tribute to one of its best actors. Álex Angulo, star of films such as The Day of the Beast
, Live Flesh
, and Pan's Labyrinth
, has died in a traffic accident in his native Spain. Likely best known to film audiences through his work with Álex de la Iglesia, this is a tremendous loss for Spanish cinema.
Born in the Basque country, Angulo got his start in local theatre before moving to film in 1981 with Escape to Segovia
(directed by Imanol Uribe). But it was his film with de la Iglesia that brought him to greater prominence. First, as one half of conjoined twins in Mutant Action
, who carries the dead body of his brother attached to him with deadpan ferocity, and then in the aforementioned The Day of the Beast
. In the latter, he is the natural descendent of Buster Keaton, playing the role of a priest committing evil to draw out the devil with the perfect mix of naivete and determination. While seen previously as more of a supporting actor, de la Iglesia recognized his talent for this leading role, one only Angulo could have performed. And he was given a Goya (Spanish Oscars) nomination for that role, as well as for another of his films with de la Iglesia, Dying of Laughter
, and El Gran Vázquez
, in which he appeared with friend and best co-star, Santiago Segura.
While mainly known as a comic actor, he will also be remembered for a dramatic and vital turn in Pan's Labyrinth
, in which he plays the doctor who secretly aids the rebel fighters. Knowing it will likely mean his death, he kills with mercy one of the rebels who had been captured and tortured; as he walks away, about to be shot by Captain Vidal, Angulo maintained the character's dignity and moral fortitude. Only an actor such as he could have handled such a part without being overdramatic or indulgent.
Not only was Angulo a great actor who worked constantly and tirelessly in film and television, but praise for the man himself can be seen in tributes online and on twitter; he was certainly loved by those who have worked with him. His unique contribution to Spanish cinema, as seen not only by those in his native country, but by cult film fans around the world, will not soon be forgotten.
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