Tomas Milian, the Cuban-born actor who made a name for himself in Italian genre movies in the 1960s and ‘70s, has died, Deadline reports. Outside of his starring roles in a number of spaghetti Westerns, Milian worked with big-name Italian directors like Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Bernardo Bertolucci. In his later years, he had notable roles with American directors Steven Soderbergh and Steven Spielberg as well. The Italian news agency ANSA broke the news of Milian’s death, reporting that he had died of a stroke at home in Miami. He was 84.
Milian was born Tomás Quintín Rodríguez Milián in 1933 in Havana, the son of a general who was imprisoned during the Cuban revolution. Soon after, he moved to New York City to study acting under Lee Strasberg; he found his niche in Italy, though, where he made his big-screen debut in the Pasolini-penned The Big Night in 1959 and went on to star in Italian Westerns like The Big Gundown (1966), The Ugly Ones (1966), Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot (1967), and Tepepa (1969) alongside Orson Welles.
When the popularity of spaghetti Westerns began to fade in the mid-’70s, Milian transitioned to the “Poliziotteschi” subgenre of hyper-violent cop movies, appearing in titles like Young, Violent, Dangerous (1976) and Free Hand For A Tough Cop (1976). He later used that experience for his role as General Arturo Salazar, the head of the corrupt Tijuana police force in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000). In his later years, Milian also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1996) and the independent dramas Washington Heights (2002) and The Feast Of The Goat (2005), among a handful of other roles. His last role was in the 2014 John Leguizamo comedy Fugly!. He is survived by his son.