“Sad day,” Van Der Beek began. “[Ron Lester] was a sensitive soul with a huge heart. Everything you loved about Billy Bob was authentically Ron. #RIP bud.” In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, “I’ll never forget how committed [Ron Lester] was on every take – even when the camera wasn’t on him.”
Lester was moved from the intensive care unit to hospice care at a Dallas hospital on Friday. He eventually died from liver and kidney failure.
The actor previously said of his Varsity Blues character, “I had the same feelings that my character had. Jon Voight is like a father figure to me, and after doing this movie, he’s just the greatest mentor I had. There were times, like in those scenes where he was chewing me out, I allowed the emotion to come out, because it was real.”
Freaks & Geeks creator Paul Feig also recalled working with Lester. “So sad to have lost a beloved member of the Freaks & Geeks team, Ron Lester, who was so great as Seidleman,” Feig tweeted. “A hilarious actor & kind soul.”
Christopher Gorham, who starred with Lester on The WB show Popular, tweeted, “Rest in peace, old friend. I’m glad I knew you. Heartbroken for his fiancé, family, and friends.”