Imeh Bryant for the Paley Center
Imeh Bryant for the Paley Center
The energy was high on the red carpet at the NCIS: LA Paleyfest event, but underneath the excitement was a sense of mourning from the cast of the hit procedural drama now in its eighth season. It was another reminder that someone important to them all was missing and all reacted with emotion talking about co-star Miguel Ferrer, who succumbed to throat cancer on January 19 at age 61.
“We were already a close cast but it brings you closer going through that loss and we will all cherish the time we had with him and miss him a lot,” acknowledges actor Chris O’Donnell with a pained look on his face.
Ferrer initially joined the drama in a recurring role during second season as NCIS Assistant Director Owen Granger and eventually became a permanent addition to the team. “He was one of the most charismatic men and amazing human beings you could ever meet,” recalls Eric Christian Olsen. “He was at a table read the week before he died and he wrote an email to all of us in the cast at 3.54PM the night he died and was gone at 6PM, so he went down swinging with amazing strength and grace.”
The unassuming actor had come from a classic show business family as the oldest of five children Academy Award winning actor José Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney. He was the cousin of actor George Clooney and had also been a well-known musician in his early career, playing drums and touring with former The Who singer Keith Moon. “He never bragged about it but whenever I’d get Miguel alone I’d ask him for more stories because he’d tell the most unbelievable stories about his childhood and his colorful life,” Olsen marvels. “His memorial service was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, the way people talked about him and were able to be there to comfort his sons (Jose, 13, Rafael, 21, and Lukas, 24) who lost their father.”
Ferrer’s first breakthrough role as an actor was in the 1987 film Robocop and his eclectic career includes everything from playing a character in Toto’s music video for the song ‘I Will Remember’ (1995) and voicing the antagonistic Hun leader Shan Yu in the animated film Mulan (1998) to a stint on Desperate Housewives and long-running role on the series Crossing Jordan as Dr. Garett Macy (2001-07). He returned to the Twin Peaks reboot to reprise one of his most memorable turns as FBI forensic pathologist Albert Rosenfield shortly before he died and it will air later this year.
“Miguel was probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever met in my entire life and I’ve met a few,” declares rapper and NCIS: LA LL Cool J (whose friends and colleagues call Todd Smith). “We did an episode where we rode horses and to see the way he showed up on that horse, he was every iconic character you could imagine from James Dean and the Fonz to James Bond and Clint Eastwood all rolled up in one so I nicknamed him Miguel Eastwood!”
Smith also revealed that Miguel generously offered the show’s writers an opportunity to use his illness in the show as his character fights cancer in hospital in his final scene. “He never complained and he worked right up until he passed,” Smith reflects. “The beautiful thing about that was that he may be gone but we allowed his character to disappear but still be alive somewhere.”
NCIS: LA actress Daniela Ruah was in tears when she stopped on the red carpet to reminisce about her late co-star with goldenglobes.org. “We got to know him not only as an actor, which he loved doing, but we also got to know his family and how much he loved them,” she said with emotion. “Having gone to his memorial, I felt it was such an honor to have known him and one special thing that George Clooney said at the memorial to Miguel’s sons was, ‘if you guys are ever missing pieces of his story or you can’t remember something about him anymore, just remember every person in this room is part of the encyclopedia of your dad’s life.’ That really resonated with me and I love that we will all have pieces of him with us always.”