Know Your Role: Robert Z’Dar
This past Monday the movie world lost one of its most memorable faces when Robert Z’Dar passed away at the age of 64.
When I say “memorable face” I mean that quite literally. Once you saw Z’Dar in a movie, you were not going to forget his face, even if you never knew his name.
A true “B-Movie Icon”, Z’Dar starred in dozens of movies over the course of his 40 year career as an actor. His unique features and look (caused by a condition known as cherubism) made him perfect for the world of action, horror and sci-fi movies. In fact, most of Z’Dar’s films were combinations of those three genres.
His highest profile role was in the Sylvester Stallone/Kurt Russell action flick, Tango & Cash. Z’Dar played an inmate in the prison Tango and Cash serve time in. His character’s name in Tango & Cash was Face. Certainly a fitting handle for the man and much better than his name in the 1999 comedy, Tyrone, where his character’s name was Assface.
While Z’Dar was a supporting player in Tango & Cash, he was one of the stars of the Maniac Cop series, playing the role of Matt Cordell in all three films. The Maniac Cop franchise allowed Z’Dar the opportunity to work with the likes of Bruce Campbell, Richard Roundtree and Robert Davi.
Z’Dar gained popularity when two of his films, Soultaker and Future War (also starring Daniel Bernhardt of Bloodsport sequel fame) were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In 1992, Z’Dar took over the role of Sam Hell, in the Hell Comes To Frogtown sequel, titled Frogtown II. In the sequel, Sam has to stop an evil plot to turn everyone into frogs. The film also starred Brion James, Lou Ferrigno and Rhonda Shear of USA Up All Night fame. He was also in the sequel to The Beastmaster, titled Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time along with Marc Singer and Wings Hauser.
Filming was underway on a sequel to one of Z’Dar’s more popular films, Samurai Cop, at the time of his death.
Not everyone is born with leading man good looks. Some guys would see this as a detriment, but Robert Z’Dar used it to his advantage and made a living in the world of direct to video movies. Z’Dar was truly a man who knew his role in the movies.
Our condolences go out to Robert Z’Dar’s friends, family and his fans.