He received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Rochester, according to the Internet Movie Database. He served as an apprentice at a theater company in East Rochester, N.Y., and starred in a local production of “West Side Story.” In 1965, he moved to New York City and made his Broadway debut in “Mrs. Dally Has a Lover” with Arlene Francis.
Mr. Forster’s greatest success came in 1997, when Mr. Tarantino cast him as the bail bondsman Max Cherry in “Jackie Brown,” for which Mr. Forster received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. His character falls in love with Jackie Brown, played by Pam Grier, a flight attendant who gets arrested for carrying cocaine and is released under the supervision of her bail bondsman.
Mr. Forster said his career trajectory had gone down for 27 years after his initial success.
“Every time it reached a lower level I thought I could tolerate, it dropped some more, and then some more,” he said. “Near the end, I had no agent, no manager, no lawyer, no nothing. I was taking whatever fell through the cracks.”
After “Jackie Brown” rejuvenated his career, Mr. Forster found success in the David Lynch thriller “Mulholland Drive.,” in which he played Detective Harry McKnight. The 2001 film starred Naomi Watts.
Mr. Forster, whose two marriages ended in divorce, is survived by his longtime partner, Denise Grayson; a son, Robert Forster Jr.; three daughters: Elizabeth Foster Howell, Maeghen Perry Dimperio and Kate Forster Simmons; and four grandchildren.
In a 2007 interview with Sean Axmaker marking the 10th anniversary of the release of “Jackie Brown,” Mr. Forster, who had previously auditioned for Mr. Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” said the director had written the part of Max Cherry with him in mind.
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