Kumar Pallana, who stole many a scene as an actor in Wes Anderson’s films, died Thursday at the age of 94, according to a post on his son’s Facebook page.
A frequent supporting player in Anderson’s films, Pallana appeared in small but memorable parts as Kumar in Bottle Rocket, Mr. LittleJeans in Rushmore, Pagoda in The Royal Tenenbaums, and as the Old Man in The Darjeeling Limited. The director met Pallana as a customer at a coffee shop owned by Pallana’s son, called Cosmic Cup in Dallas, and first cast him in 1996’s Bottle Rocket. Pallana went on to appear in other Hollywood films, such as Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal.
Even before he became an actor, the India-born Pallana was entertaining international audiences with high-flying tricks he learned as a child. He performed throughout Africa, Paris, and Beirut, showcasing gymnastic, juggling, and singing skills, according to a 2003 profile in The Believer. When he came to the United States, Pallana appeared on TV shows like Captain Kangaroo and The Pinky Lee Show. He was also an enthusiastic practitioner of meditation and yoga, detailing his breathing routine to the Dallas Morning News in 2004, “We begin with breathing. The key is repetition – if you do anything enough times, it becomes part of your nature.”
Watch Pallana here, in a montage of his scenes from The Royal Tenenbaums: