Cyrus has fallen: The actor Roger Hill, who played the messianic gang leader in Walter Hill’s 1979 action classic The Warriors, has died at 65. Hill was reportedly brought in to play Cyrus, who is shot down while delivering a speech intended to unite all the street gangs of New York City, after the actual gang member Hill had originally cast in the role disappeared.
Hill also appeared in the 1974 biographical film The Education Of Sonny Carson and played James Fenimore Cooper’s Chingachgook in a 1979 TV miniseries adapted from Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales; in the early 1980s, he had a role on the daytime soap opera One Life To Live. But most of his 18-year career was devoted to work in the theater. He retired from acting in 1987.
Cyrus was Hill’s best-known role, and in the years following that movie’s controversial first release, both the film and his character increasingly took on a life of their own. In 1989, the British band Pop Will Eat Itself sampled lines from The Warriors, including Cyrus’ repeated cry of “Can you dig it!?” for its hit single “Can U Dig it.” More recently, Hill, then a library worker, sued Rockstar Games, demanding $250,000 over the use of his voice and likeness in its The Warriors video game. The company countered that it had obtained a “valid third-party” agreement to include the Cyrus character in the game.