Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

From 'Alien' to 'Twin Peaks' – our picks for the late character actor's greatest onscreen moments

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'Alien' (1979)

In which Stanton is equal parts cast member, set dressing and, eventually, lunch. The massive spaceship on which Ridley Scott's claustrophobic horror classic takes place, the Nostromo, isn't some state-of-the-art star cruiser – it's a glorified 18-wheeler, with a crew of blue-collar working stiffs, and Stanton's grizzled engineer Brett sells the setting as much as the vessel's leaky pipes. In his bomber jacket, trucker hat and Hawaiian shirt, Stanton plays him as familiar and endearing a presence as that crusty but friendly regular at your local diner, the one that can shoot the shit or play wingman for his fellow working stiff ("Right!"). All of which makes his sudden death at the titular creature’s hands – and retractable jaws – truly terrible to witness. That final look of horror on his face .... STC

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