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Rio Hackford, the older son of Oscar-winning filmmaker Taylor Hackford and a prominent club owner who acted in Treme, Swingers, Jonah Hex and American Crime Story, has died. He was 51.
Hackford died Thursday in Sunset Beach, California, his brother, Alex Hackford, told The Hollywood Reporter. The cause of death was uveal melanoma.
He was the son of Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray) and Georgie Lowres. His parents divorced in 1972, and his father was married to Oscar-winning producer Lynne Littman from 1977-87 until he wed British actress Helen Mirren in 1997.
“Helen and I are both inspired by the life of our son and stepson and heartbroken by his loss,” Taylor Hackford said in a statement. “His life showed us how to live in generosity and community. He shared his life’s journey with so many who now mourn him, and at the same time, celebrate their fortune in knowing him.”
The couple added, “We would beg everyone reading this to get their eyes tested at least once a year, which might save their loved ones from this cancer.”
Born on June 28, 1970, Rio del Valle Hackford followed his dad into the entertainment business, grabbing his first small part in Pretty Woman (1990), where he played a junkie. Minor roles followed in early ’90s films like Safe and Double Dragon. He portrayed Bobby the bartender in Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days in 1995, then scored perhaps his most memorable film role in Doug Liman’s cult classic Swingers (1996).
In Swingers, Hackford played Skully, who bumps into Patrick Van Horn’s Sue in The Dresden Room parking lot and Sue pulls a gun. Later, Skully’s gang makes up with Sue, and they come over to play video games.
His other notable film credits included portraying Grayden Nash in Jonah Hex (2010) and parts in Stay Alive (2006), Déjà Vu (2006), Fred Claus (2007), Parker (2013) and Trumbo (2015).
In the 2010s, Hackford appeared on episodes of HBO’s True Detective and WGN’s Underground. On HBO’s New Orleans-set drama Treme, he played Toby, a Tower Records clerk. He also appeared on FX’s 2016 series American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson as Pat McKenna, an investigator for attorney Robert Shapiro.
More recently, he worked on Hulu’s Pam & Tommy and provided the motion capture work on the assassin droid IG-11, voiced by Taika Waititi, on Disney+’s The Mandalorian.
Hackford owned a string of bars and nightclubs across the country. In an interview with THR in 2011, he said he had grown up frequenting dive bars with his father and poet Charles Bukowski. “My earliest memories, as a kid, were being at the [race]track and the dives downtown with the two of them,” he said.
Later, he worked the door at the L.A. nightspot the Three Clubs and became friendly with Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and producer Nicole LaLoggia, with whom he would work on Swingers. Three Clubs features in Swingers, with real-life bar patrons acting as extras.
Said Vaughn in a statement: “As loyal and funny as anyone could be. Rio was the best ever. Truly one of a kind.”
He was a well-known figure in New Orleans as the co-owner of the nostalgia-led dive bars Pal’s Lounge, Matador and One Eyed Jacks, the latter of which opened in 2002 and played host to local and touring bands and was a popular venue for secret gigs performed by the likes of Green Day. A fixture of the NOLA bar scene for almost two decades, One Eyed Jacks closed in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other bars that Hackford co-owned included The Homestead in San Francisco; The Grasshopper in Long Beach, California; and Monty, a converted Mexican pool hall, and El Dorado in Los Angeles.
“Rio just knew things. Esoteric things. Off the map things. Secret things. Wonderful things,” Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme said. “He knew these things because of his charm, wit, honesty, character and tough personality. He was a real man in a sea of poseurs.”
In addition to his brother, father and stepmother, survivors include his wife, Elisabeth, and sons Waylon and Buck.
Mike Barnes contributed to this report.
April 19: Added cause of death and statements from Taylor Hackford, Vince Vaughn and Josh Homme.
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