The award-winning master of disguise has died, aged 89. Throughout his career, Martin Landau became known as an all-purpose, versatile actor who could turn his acting skills to any role thrown at him. But he truly impressed the world with his role in the fan favorite TV show, Mission: Impossible, and his Oscar award winning role in Ed Wood. And he will be sorely missed.
The devastating news was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by Landau’s representative, who reported that the acting legend had died on Saturday, July 15 after ‘unexpected complications’ during a short stay at the UCLA Medical Center. It’s unknown what ultimately caused his death, but we send condolences to his friends, family, and fans across the world.
Landau first shot to fame in 1959, after he was cast in the popular Alfred Hitchcock movie, North By Northwest. After this stint, the Landau name became commonplace in the world of Hollywood – especially when he was asked to join the cast of the CBS show, Mission: Impossible. However, after three years of trying to crack the impossible mission, Landau left the show when he could not settle a contractual agreement with the producers. Over the next decade or so, Landau’s career was on the rocks, and he struggled to find acting world. His luck changed in 1988 after Francis Ford Coppola chose the actor to star alongside Jeff Bridges in Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
This role proved a turning point in Landau’s career, and he was suddenly skyrocketed back to the top of the acting social circle, making friends with high-profile directors, producers and actors such as Woody Allen, Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline and Tim Burton. In 1994, Landau worked with Burton to produce one of his most prolific roles yet – as Lugosi in Ed Wood.
As the years went by, Landau soon built a fan following, and became a sought-after actor – but even Landau had his limits, turning down the role of Mr. Spock in the hit NBC series, Star Trek (after Landau’s rejection, the role was given to Leonard Nimoy). Speaking in 2011, Landau spoke of this role.
I turned down Star Trek. It would’ve been torturous. I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?
RIP Martin Landau. You will be missed.