Vachik Mangassarian, a veteran character actor known for his roles on NCIS, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has died at the age of 78 from COVID-19 complications. Representatives for Mangassarian confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he passed away in Burbank, California.
The Iran-born Armenian star moved to the U.S. at age 23 and landed his first Hollywood role in 1978. In the decades since, he held a slew of roles, starring as the architect Qasim Zaghlul in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and guest-starring on Curb Your Enthusiasm. More recently, he appeared on NCIS: Los Angeles and began work on his latest film, Moving On, where he had a supporting role in the Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin vehicle.
In the months before his death, Mangassarian had frequently expressed his opposition to COVID-19 vaccines and veered into truther territory, posting memes to Facebook that suggested the pandemic was part of a grand conspiracy.
In one post from September 2021, the actor posted a photo of a parody news report saying that “millions test positive for Sheeple 19.”
In another post a month later, he posted a photo of a billboard stating that “I am more afraid of a Democrat in the White House than I am of COVID-19.” In early November, he made his stance on vaccines clear with an image of President Joe Biden altered to show a syringe poking into his behind, along with the caption, “Here’s what you can do with my dose Joe Let’s Go Brandon.”
A representative for Mangassarian said the actor had initially been opposed to getting the coronavirus vaccine but ultimately did get vaccinated after it was required for film projects.
“I know about his original stance, but after I had a talk with him, his desire to work became more important to him,” Valerie McCaffery of McCaffery Talent Management told The Daily Beast.