Buddy Duress, ‘Good Time’ actor, dies at 38

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Los Angeles: American actor Buddy Duress, known for his appearances in ‘Good Time and Heaven Knows What,’ died. Duress died of cardiac arrest from a drug cocktail in November 2023, his brother Christopher Stathis told People on Tuesday. He was 38. Duress appeared in two of the Safdie Brothers’ independent films. His debut acting role was in Benny and Josh Safdie’s 2014 film Heaven Knows What.

People reported that in a 2017 SSense interview, Duress revealed that he met Josh in 2013 after being released from Rikers Island in New York City on narcotics charges. Duress was fleeing after failing to complete a drug in-patient programme. Duress met Josh through a mutual friend, landed the role in Heaven Knows What, but was eventually apprehended by police.

He was subsequently returned to Rikers Island when the film was finished and remained there until it aired at the New York Film Festival in 2014. “You know, I still look back at it. If I had gone to that program, I wouldn’t have been in Heaven Knows What, and I probably wouldn’t be an actor right now. That’s the truth. I wouldn’t,” Duress told SSense.

Once he was released, the directors asked Duress to write a journal about his time in prison, which they converted into the narrative for Good Time, according to the Los Angeles Times. Three years after Heaven Knows What, he starred alongside Robert Pattinson in Good Time.

After Good Time, Duress appeared in several feature and short films, including 86’d, The Mountain, and The Great Darkened Days. Then, in 2019, he was arrested on third-degree grand theft charges and returned to Rikers, according to the New York Post.

Duress was arrested while filming Flinch that same year after threatening to burn down his mother Jo-Anne’s house. The New York Post said that shortly after Flinch director Cameron Van Hoy and Jo-Anne bailed free Duress, he was arrested and returned to Rikers on counts of menacing and criminal possession of brass knuckles and a prohibited drug.

“Buddy was pure electricity on screen. Working with him was one of the great adventures of my life. He was a kind person who loved making films. Despite any troubles he was going through in life he somehow managed to put them aside when it came time to work. We grew quite close after the production of our film Flinch. I’m heartbroken that his life came to an end as it did,” Van Hoy told People.

Following the 2021 release of Flinch, Duress starred in the short film Alone, the movie Funny Pages, and an episode of The New Rich Family Grudge. Duress has two more unreleased projects, including the short Skull and the movie Mass State Lottery, directed by Jay Karales. The latter will be available this year.

“Buddy Duress was a once-in-a-lifetime charismatic actor and a genuinely humble man who left an impression on everyone he met. I was extremely fortunate to be able to direct him and get to know him off-set during our time shooting Mass State Lottery,” Karales told People.

“What happened is a tragic and frustrating loss of visceral talent. He lived like a cowboy and carrying the weight of that kind of life informed his skills and performances in a way that made him irreplaceable as an actor. He has unfortunately become the John Cazale of our generation,” Karales added. Duress is survived by his mother, Jo-Anne, and his younger brother, Christopher.

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