The late Harry Dean Stanton, who passed aged 91 on this day in 2017, bowed out from his esteemed and prolific career with one last magnetic performance as he took the lead in John Carroll Lynch film Lucky.
The last film that Stanton ever worked in, John Carroll Lynch’s drama follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist (played by Harry Dean Stanton). It is an honest exploration of morality, loneliness and human relationships. Stanton’s final performance is a powerful one in which he dominates every frame he is in. Lucky is Stanton’s beautiful farewell letter.
When John Carroll Lynch was asked about his experience working with Stanton, he replied, “Delightful, challenging, frustrating, angering, as well as breathtaking and surprising. He focused so clearly on the moment that he only responded to notes you had on that individual moment of how to play something. You had to say it in a way that was clearly about that moment and not about what you needed as a director. Structure was of no interest to him.”
While Stanton delivers a performance like no other, rolling back the years in his majesty, fans of the late actor will have one particular Lucky scene etched into the memory for eternity. In it, while reflecting on the world around him, Stanton’s character rises amid the birthday party around him and begins to sing a solo rendition of Vicente Fernández song ‘Volver, Volver’ and, with it, silences all those in attendance. The performance is as heart-wrenching on reflection as it was upon first viewing, the actor laying everything out there in public for his art.
As the film proudly states, with an image of a squinting elderly actor looking out to the desert: “Harry Dean Stanton IS Lucky.” It is in that statement alone that his performance becomes ever more poignant.
David Lynch, who also appeared in the film, later paid tribute to his friend following his passing, stating: “There went a great one. There’s nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone loved him. And with good reason.” And how right he is.
See Harry Dean Stanton’s mesmerising performance, below.