Actor Buddy Duress Dead at 38

Buddy Duress—known for his work on films such as the Safdie Brothers' Good Time and Heaven Knows What—has died.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Feb 28, 2024 1:09 PMTags
Watch: 'Good Time' Actor Buddy Duress Dead at 38

An actor's life has tragically come to a close.

Buddy Duress—born Michael Stathis and known for his collaborations with the Safdie Brothers—has died. He was 38. 

Christopher Stathis confirmed to People that his brother died in November of "cardiac arrest from a drug cocktail."

Born in Queens, New York, Duress made his acting debut in Benny and Josh Safdie's 2014 film Heaven Knows What. According to a 2017 SSense interview with the actor, Duress first met Josh the year before the film's release soon after being released from Rikers Island for drug charges and after skipping out on a drug in-patient program.

A mutual friend introduced the two, and Duress was shortly thereafter cast in Heaven Knows What. He was eventually caught by police and was taken back to Riker's Island where he remained while the film premiered at New York Film Festival. 

But as he put it to SSense, "You know, I still look back at it. If I had went to that program, I wouldn't have been in Heaven Knows What, and I probably wouldn't be an actor right now. That's the honest truth."

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Upon being released, Duress once again collaborated with the Safdie brothers for Good Time, which starred Robert Pattinson. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, the brothers ended up incorporating a journal they'd asked Duress to keep while in prison into the script. 

Duress would go on to work on a number of other movies and short films throughout his career, including 86'd, The Mountain and The Great Darkened Days

Getty Images/Getty Images

In 2019, according to the New York Post, Duress was arrested on charges of grand larceny in the third degree and taken back to Rikers. That same year, while filming Flinch, the actor was arrested an additional two times.

Cameron Van Hoy, the director of Flinch, told People of Duress, "Buddy was pure electricity on screen. Working with him was one of the great adventures of my life. He was a kind person who loved making films. Despite any troubles he was going through in life he somehow managed to put them aside when it came time to work. I'm heartbroken that his life came to an end as it did."

Duress—who is survived by his mother Jo-Anne in addition to his brother Christopher—was involved in two more projects that have yet to be released: A short called Skull and a feature film titled Mass State Lottery, which will be released later this year. 

The director of the latter project Jay Karales reflected on working with Duress on the film. 

"Buddy Duress was a once in a lifetime charismatic actor and a genuinely humble man that left an impression on everyone he met," he told People. "What happened is a tragic and frustrating loss of visceral talent. He lived like a cowboy and carrying the weight of that kind of life informed his skills and performances in a way that made him irreplaceable as an actor."

In his 2017 interview, Duress mused over what made him such an effective, natural actor.

"Whatever thought process or chemicals that make people embarrassed or nervous, I just don't have that," he said. "I'm not trying to brag. I just don't get scared. My heart rate never goes up."

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