Robert J. Zdarsky (June 3, 1950 – March 30, 2015), better known by his stage name Robert Z'Dar, was an American actor and film producer, best known for his role as officer Matt Cordell in the cult horror film Maniac Cop and its two sequels.
Robert J. Zdarsky
June 3, 1950
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||March 30, 2015 (aged 64)|
Pensacola, Florida, U.S.
|Other names||Robert Darcy, Robert West, Bobby Z'Dar, Bobby Z'dar, Robert Zdar|
|Occupation||Actor, film producer|
Z'Dar worked mainly in low-budget B-movies and direct-to-video features, but occasionally in mainstream Hollywood films and television. Due to his cherubism, a medical condition resulting in an enlarged jawline, Z'dar had a unique and easily recognizable look with a slightly sinister appearance, which aided his career as he usually portrayed villains.
A prolific actor, Z'Dar appeared in 121 films and television episodes over the course of his 29-year career.
Born in the West Lawn neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, Z'Dar was of Lithuanian descent. He first started acting while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z'Dar attended Arizona State University where he received a BFA and played on the university football team. After graduation, Z'Dar returned to Chicago where he was employed as a Chicago police officer, member of the band Nova Express, commercial jingle writer and Chippendales dancer.
Z'Dar appeared in several films, including Hot Chili (1985), The Night Stalker (1987), Cherry 2000 (1987), The Killing Game (1988), and Grotesque (1988). Z'Dar's name became recognizable when he played Matt Cordell in 1988's Maniac Cop, a film about a back from the dead hero NYPD cop turned evil avenger who brutally murders people. Z'Dar reprised his role in the 1990 sequel and Badge of Silence (1993).
It was perhaps Z'Dar's performance in Maniac Cop that landed him the role of "Face" in 1989's Tango & Cash, alongside action stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. He went on to appear in films such as The Final Sanction (1990), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), Killing American Style (1990), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), Mobsters (1991), Samurai Cop (1991), Return to Frogtown (1993), Marching Out of Time (1993), Death from Above (2011), Meltdown (2009) and Easter Sunday (2014). It was Z'Dars performance and unique appearance in Tango and Cash that inspired Sean Pertwee's facial technique and make up in the film 'Dog Soldiers'. Sean was quoted as being inspired by Z'Dar because '[...] like me, he has unusual features that are almost designed to portray grimacing death with profound accuracy and very little effort'.
Robert Z'Dar appeared in more than 121 films and television episodes, with at least one film appearance per year in 27 of the last 29 years of his career (missing only 1986 and 2001). He continued making at least one film every year despite a serious back injury he suffered in 2002 on a movie set. Two of Z'Dar's films, Soultaker (1992) and Future War (1997) appeared in season 10 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, increasing his renown somewhat.
In 2012 he was inducted to International Indie Filmmakers Hall of Fame at The Indie Gathering film festival
|1988||Maniac Cop||Matt Cordell|
|1988||Killing American Style||Tony Stone|
|1989||Tango & Cash||Face|
|1990||Maniac Cop 2||Matt Cordell|
|1990||Soultaker||Angel of Death|
|1990||A Gnome Named Gnorm||Reggie|
|1991||Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time||Zavic|
|1993||Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence||Matt Cordell|
|1997||Future War||Cyborg Master|
|1997||Pocket Ninjas||Cobra Khan|
|2015||A Blood Story||Gerry the Jaw||Posthumous release|
|2016||Chasing Gold||Roger Gleason|
|2017||High on the Hog||The Mayor||Posthumous release|
|2020||Spring Fever||Roth Chile DeVille||Posthumous release; final film role|
While appearing at Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida, Z'Dar was hospitalized for chest pains. He seemed to recover but subsequently went into cardiac arrest and died on March 30, 2015, after a month at the hospital.
- Maniac Cop Actor Robert Z’Dar Dies at 64 time.com
- R.I.P. Robert Z’Dar, cult actor and Maniac Cop avclub.com
- Hardy, Phil; Institute, British Film (1997). The BFI companion to crime. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-304-33215-1. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
- Newman, Kim (May 10, 2011). Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 385. ISBN 978-1-4088-0503-9. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
- Lindenmuth, Kevin J. (January 2002). The independent film experience: interviews with directors and producers. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7864-1075-0. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
- Robert Z'Dar (1950 - 2015) thedissolve.com
- Cult actor Robert Z'Dar dies in Pensacola pnj.com