Clark Middleton, a character actor known for his roles in geek favorites like Twin Peaks, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Sin City, Fringe, Snowpiercer and The Blacklist, has passed away. According to his wife, he died as a result of contracting West Nile Virus at age 63. In Showtime's recent Twin Peaks: The Return, Middleton played Audrey Horne's husband, giving him one of hist most prominent screen roles in years. Not long before, he had played a recurring role on The Blacklist as a DMV worker who moonlights as a tracker. He also had minor roles in Gotham and American Gods.
Middleton had been a working actor for decades, beginning with small roles in '80s and '90s movies like Miss Lonelyhearts and Little Pieces before taking the first job for which people likely recognized him regularly. In 1997, he began a three-year run as Ellis, a forensics tech on Law & Order.
"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of a life eminently worthy of celebration: Clark Tinsley Middleton, 63 – beloved actor, writer, director, teacher, hero, husband, beacon, friend," his wife Elissa wrote on social media. "Clark transitioned on October 4th as a result of West Nile Virus, for which there is no known cure. Clark was a beautiful soul who spent a lifetime defying limits and advocating for people with disabilities."
Middleton suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for much of his life, diagnosed at age 4. He experienced a number of symptoms and injuries over the years, and eventually ended up walking with a cane and having minimal movement in his neck. Still, he persevered and became a recognizable face to audiences over the course of nearly 40 years of work.
He also wrote, produced, and directed original material for the stage and screen. A career of working with some of the biggest directors in Hollywood paid off with Twin Peaks, which Variety notes he did not have to audition for in spite of the project being huge and David Lynch being famously precise in what he wants onscreen.
Before he ever made his way to the screen, Middleton had made a big splash on stage, appearing in (among other things) a Tony-nominated take on The Iceman Cometh with superstar-in-waiting Denzel Washington in the early '80s.
"I'm heartbroken. Besides being a truly unique and gifted actor, Clark was simply an incredible guy in every way," said The Blacklist writer Jon Bokenkamp in a statement. "He was a whip-smart film nut. He loved his work with a passion. And he was insanely generous of spirit … I know his entire family at The Blacklist is devastated by this news. Clark was one of the good ones, and we lost him way too soon."