Linda Manz, who starred as a teenager in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven and Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue, has passed away at age 58. Her family announced her passing on social media that she had succumbed to a long batter with cancer and pneumonia.
Manz may not be a household name, but she left an indelible impression on everyone who saw Days of Heaven and Out of the Blue. Born in 1961 in New York City, she was 15 years old when Terrence Malick cast her in his first movie Days of Heaven as Richard Gere's young sister. The movie, set in the Texas Panhandle during the Great Depression, featured Gere, Manz, and Brooke Adams as his girlfriend, hopping trains looking for work. They meet a wealthy farmer played by Sam Shepard, and a love triangle forms with tragic consequences. Manz provided the voiceover throughout the movie. Her lines were reportedly unscripted – Malick just sat her down to watch the film and let her talk about it in any way she chose. It was ethereal, elusive, and poetic and set the tone for the movie that also established Malick as an original voice in Cinema.
Manz went on to play a supporting role in The Wanderers in 1979, Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Richard Price's novel about an Italian-American street gang in New York City. Star Ken Wahl paid tribute to her on his Facebook page on Friday and wrote, "I am grateful that I got to speak with her before she passed this morning. RIP Pee Wee".
Her other most notable role was as the teenage punk heroine in Dennis Hopper's dark, downbeat movie Out of the Blue in 1980. What started as an intended PSA movie ran into such chaos that Dennis Hopper ended up stepping into the director's chair and turned it into a searing portrait of social disenchantment and tragedy. The movie ran in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and has maintained a cult reputation in Europe and the UK as one of the truly Punk movies.
Manz dropped out of acting after Out of the Blue until Harmony Korine coaxed her back to appear in the odd, surreal Gummo in 1997 to play the main character's mother. She also appeared in David Fincher's The Game that same year.
Out of the Blue had been unavailable for years until filmmakers John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr restored it in a campaign supported by Natasha Lyonne and Chloe Sevigny. The new print premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2019 and was set to premiere in the US this year until the Pandemic put those plans on hold.
Manz had been living under her married name Linda Guthrie. Her son Michael Guthrie set up a Gofundme page to cover the funeral costs. "Linda was a loving wife, a caring mom, a wonderful grandma, and a great friend who was loved by many," he wrote.