Rio Hackford, 'The Mandalorian' Actor and Helen Mirren's Stepson, Dead at 51

Rio Hackford Dead at 51
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Actor and club owner Rio Del Valle Hackford has died after a battle with the rare cancer uveal melanoma. He was 51.

Hackford's father, director Taylor Hackford, and stepmother, Helen Mirren, confirmed the news in a joint statement shared on Tuesday. 

“Helen and I are both inspired by the life of our son and stepson, Rio Hackford, and heartbroken by his loss. 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 statement read. "Rio died of uveal melanoma, a very aggressive and rare form of cancer. 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."

On Monday, Hackford’s brother, Alex, told Variety that he died in Huntington Beach, California, on Thursday, April 14 after an illness.

Hackford's family also shared statements from fellow stars, among them Vince Vaughn and Renée Zellweger. 

“As loyal and funny as anyone could be.  Rio was the best ever.  Truly one of a kind," Vaughn said.  

“Rio…a titan of kindness, love, class, courage. And cool. A legend," Zellweger described. 

“Rio just knew things.  Esoteric things. Off the map things.  Secret things. Wonderful things," Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age said. "He knew these things because of his charm, wit, honesty, character & tough personality.  He was a real man in a sea of Poseurs.”

Rio Hackford and Helen Mirren
John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

After his death, Mirren paid tribute to her stepson by sharing a photo of him smiling on Instagram with the simple caption, “El Rio.”  

Fellow actor, and Hackford’s friend, DV DeVincentis, paid tribute to the Treme actor on Instagram.

“Life is experience. Time and sensation folding together, framing each other. Rio was more attuned to experience than anyone I’ve ever known,” DeVincentis wrote. “He would stop what was happening to point it out, compel you to pay attention. He would order you a must-have experience from a beloved menu and hold your eye as you paid attention to what was happening in your mouth. 'Right, Guy? I mean… right?' He would put an experience for you on the stereo, then start it over and play it again for you because we were talking over it the first time and 'Pal, you really have to listen to it.' Not simply obsessed with movies and how they mirrored and compelled, he was something more: a superfan of enumerable scenes, of particular gestures of unsung actors, weird career turns, roaring comebacks, cinema swan songs — all real experiences for you, when beheld consciously.” 

He continued, “During phone calls from one traveling cell phone to another, he would keep track of where you were and let you know what incredible meal or bar was in your vicinity, a gourmand GPS thrumming at all times, for you. And those long long calls went by so quickly, his gift of gab so paradoxical as set in his Gary Cooper laconic mien. Worthy experience isn’t everywhere. But Rio knew the closest to you at any given moment, and keeping track of these precious possibilities for you was his most fluent language of love. Rio was the apex curator of experience, it was his oxygen, his life.” 

Fellow celebrities took to the comments section to share their condolences and remember Hackford. “This is a massive loss,” Lake Bell wrote.

“I was so sad to hear about Rio passing. I remember him exiting his old yellow cab in late 80’s Chicago! The car was enormous but Rio could not be dwarfed by his impractical ride. He was too nice to be that handsome. Too cool to be that relatable. My Gos [sic] that man was special. RIP Rio,” Robin Tunney wrote.  

“OH DV I’m so sorry this is heartbreaking endless love and hugs surrounding Rio & his family (and you) 🕊 🕯,” Liz Goldwyn wrote.  

Hackford was born June 28, 1970 in Los Angeles, California. The actor made his on-screen debut in 1990’s Pretty Women. Over the course of his career, he appeared in Jonah Hex, Treme and American Crime Story. Hackford also played the IG-11 Performance artist/Riot Mar -- voiced by Taika Waititi -- on Disney's The Mandalorian.  

One of Hackford’s last acting credits was a small role in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy. In addition to his career in Hollywood, Hackford was the owner of bars in Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco.   

Among several family members, Hackford is survived by his wife, Libby McLaughlin and two children, Waylon and Buck.


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