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Buddy Duress Dies: Troubled Star Of Safdie Brothers Films Was 38

Buddy Duress, the actor who appeared in two Safdie Brothers films including 2017’s Good Time starring Robert Pattinson, died last November of what his brother said this week was “cardiac arrest from a drug cocktail.” Duress was 38.

Duress’ death was announced on social media last week by director Jay Karales, whose upcoming film Mass State Lottery features Duress. The cause of death was announced yesterday to People by the actor’s brother Christopher Stathis (Duress was born Michael C. Stathis).

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“This man was an absolute treasure,” Karales, known professionally as LowRes Wünderbred, wrote. “Without a doubt, Buddy Duress was one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever met and his stories were unrivaled. I remember seeing him in Good Time in 2017 and saying, ‘That is what the future of acting needs to be. That guy.’ He brought a certain authenticity and charisma to the screen that you just don’t see anymore. It was a dream to get him in Mass State Lottery, and I feel privileged to have been his director and his friend.”

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Born in Queens, New York, in May 1985, Duress’ acting debut came in Josh and Benny Safdie’s 2014 film Heaven Knows What, starring Caleb Landry Jones and Arielle Holmes. The brothers reunited with Duress three years later for the crime drama Good Time, in which he portrayed the drug-dealing partner-in-crime to Pattinson’s character.

The Safdies cast Duress in their 2014 drug addiction drama Heaven Knows What a year after Josh Safdie met Duress following his release from New York’s Rikers Island on drug charges. After missing a scheduled in-patient program appointment, Duress was re-arrested; Heaven Knows What premiered at the New York Film Festival while Duress was locked up.

Even while building up a film resume that included such credits as Person to Person (2017), The Great Darkened Days (2018), Beware of Dog (2020), and Funny Pages (2022), among others, Duress continued to have run-ins with the law. In a 2019 New York Post article headlined “Buddy Duress should be a huge star, but he can’t stay out of Rikers,” the actor was reported to have been arrested several times that year, including for grand larceny, menacing, criminal possession of brass knuckles and drugs, and for threatening to burn down his mother’s home in Queens.

At the time of the Post article, Duress’ mother had sought an order of protection from him. “I don’t blame her,” Duress told the Post in a phone interview from Rikers. “I’m not easy to live with.”

In addition to his brother Christopher, Duress is survived by his mother Jo-Anne.

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