If you are a youngster who came of age in the 90s, then you likely knew Carradine through the "Kill Bill" films where he, of course, played Bill. If you are my age and grew up in the 70s and 80s, though, Carradine will always be Kwai Chang Caine first in your heart. His role as Caine in Kung Fu will always be the image of Carradine that I see first in my mind.
Carradine had an extensive career with over 200 roles played between television and films. His most notable role was playing Arlo Guthrie in Bound for Glory but he also was excellent in Walter Hill's The Long Riders as Cole Younger and as Shepard in Q. But he would star in most anything. Some of my cult favorites with Carradine are The Misfit Brigade, Kill Zone and the awfully-awesome Future Force. John Tucker f-ing rules!
There wasn't another actor quite like Carradine, on or off the screen. One of the last times I saw him mentioned in print was thanks to an absolutely insane screening of Bound for Glory in Los Angeles that had Carradine as part of the panel. To say it got bizarre, insane and completely nuts is an understatement. Read about it for yourself, but here's a taste:
Then the subject of unions arises... and everything goes gonzo, never to return. Carradine says that these are different times from the 1930s and unions no longer serve the purpose they once did, or words to that effect. Almost immediately, as if coiled and ready to spring, a woman in the back starts shrieking that nothing about unions' importance has changed. Carradine reiterates his position. Cox, who has barely said a word up until now, starts shaking his head and mutters, "That doesn't sound like Woody Guthrie to me!" The woman I'll call Union Lady starts marching down the aisle, and now Carradine is shouting back, which might be okay if he wasn't yelling right into the microphone, which does not sound pretty. For about two minutes both of them are going at it at once, and she's the more obnoxious one. But because Carradine's mike makes him five times as loud, he's coming off as the bully. Some audience members are telling Union Lady to shut up; some angrily holler "Let her speak!" Two guys in my vicinity start shouting "Let's hear from Haskell Wexler!" About a dozen people get up and walk out in the midst of this -- one of them, almost unnoticed, being Ronny Cox, who manages to effect the smoothest getaway of all time.
Trust me, the whole read is worth it.
We'll miss you, Carradine. Your death is a hole in the fabric of the country that will never be filled.