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REMEMBERING A UTAH TOUGH GUY

     

                R.D. Call (1950-2020)

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 6, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most everyone has spotted an actor in a movie or television program that has given off a vibe of déjà vu. You know: ‘That guy’s familiar; I recognize the face but don’t know the name.’ Sturdy character actor R.D. Call, an Ogden, Utah, native, was one of those. Call passed away last week in his Layton home, just 11 days after turning 70. He mostly played tough guys —plenty of cops and crooks — in a wide range of high-profile movies over three decades. I interviewed him some 34 years ago when he was promoting the film ‘At Close Range,’ which provided him with a breakout role and would lead to significant parts in ‘Colors’ (1988), ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ (1989), ‘Young Guns II’ (1990), ‘Waterworld’ (1995), ‘Murder By Numbers’ (2002) and ‘Into the Wild’ (2007), among many others. He also had a prominent role in the second and third films in the ‘Work and the Glory’ trilogy, and made guest appearances in a number of popular TV series, including ‘Castle’ (2014), ‘Burn Notice’ (2012), ‘Diagnosis: Murder’ (1998), ‘Murder, She Wrote’ (1994) and ‘The X-Files’ (1994). Under the headline, ‘James Foley’s ‘At Close Range’ film is getting ‘a rare second life,’ this interview was published in the Deseret News on Sept. 17, 1986.

R.D. Call is one of the cast members of “At Close Range,” the big, bearded brother of Christopher Walken in the film.

He is also a Utah native, hailing from Layton. Call returns frequently to visit family here and came to town over the weekend to take in “At Close Range” with some friends who invited him in for a celebration of sorts.

     

R.D. Call with Sandra Bullock in 'Murder By Numbers' (2002).

“I got into show business by accident,” Call says. “I was going to Weber (State College) and got dragged to a play. So I opened my big mouth and said, ‘It stinks! I can do better than that!’ So I had to put my inclinations where my mouth was.”

Call said he became obsessed with acting and decided he had to pursue it professionally. “I’d call it a disease. I did it (acting in plays) in school for a while and then I got tired of academia. It was not what I wanted.

“So I flipped a coin about whether I should go to Los Angeles or New York. And I went to L.A. 11 years ago.”

Call said he didn’t know anyone there and for two years he wasn’t able to do any acting at all. He eventually studied with Lee Strasberg’s studio, began doing plays, later managed to land an agent and finally began getting jobs on episodic television, “playing killers or cops.”

     

James Coburn, left, Viggo Mortensen, Scott Wilson and R.D. Call in 'Young Guns II' (1988).

Among the shows he has appeared on are “Hart to Hart,” “Police Story,” “The Rockford Files,” “Gangster Chronicles,” “Little House on the Prairie” and many others, along with various made-for-TV movies, including the upcoming time-travel adventure “Timestalkers,” which stars William Devane and Klaus Kinski.

Call’s first theatrical film was “48HRS.” for director Walter Hill, who remembered him and used him again in “Brewster’s Millions.” He got a part in the exploitation film “The Devil’s Hand” and then came the role in “At Close Range.”

“I’m just now getting to the point where I can call myself a working actor,
 Call said. “It’s only been the last 2½ years that I’ve had no side job.

“I’ve done a lot of things in the meantime, truck driver, docks, liquor stores — jobs with flexible hours so I could leave at a moment’s notice if I got an acting job.

“It’s cost me a lot. It’s been a long, hard road.”