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Excalibur Star Nicol Williamson Dies
Exorcist III actor was 73

25 January 2012  |  Written by Phil de Semlyen  |  Source: The Daily Telegraph

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Excalibur Star Nicol Williamson Dies

Scottish actor Nicol Williamson has died aged 73, reports The Daily Telegraph. According to his son Luke, the stage and screen actor died of esophageal cancer on December 16. He was best known for his roles in Excalibur and The Exorcist III, as well as a long and much acclaimed stage career.

Williamson was a star turn as Merlin in John Boorman's dark folk fantasy Excalibur, in which he was reluctantly cast alongside former lover Helen Mirren. Boorman's mischief-making paid off: the pair share the best scenes in the film, with Mirren's Morgana and Williamson's wizard playing wittily off against each other. Williamson and Mirren had worked together once before, although much less auspiciously, in a radical staging of Macbeth. 

The Hamilton-born actor made his name in John Osbourne's Inadmissible Evidence for which he received great acclaim and, later, a Tony award on Broadway. Osborne later described him as the greatest actor since Brando, a claim another playwright, Samuel Beckett, would corroborate. He was an actor, said Beckett, "touched by genius".

Williamson's last screen outing came in 1997’s comic-book noir Spawn in which he played a demon-cum-mentor to Michael Jai White's superhero. "By the time he'd made Spawn, he was done with it," Luke Williamson told Empire. More recently, he'd worked with his son on musical collaborations that showcased his diverse interests.

The actor's rich and occasionally tempestuous life took him not just to Hollywood, but into the corridors of power. Harold Wilson was so impressed by his performance in Tony Richardson's Hamlet that he commended him to Richard Nixon. The result was an invitation to perform at one of the president's 'Evening at the White House' series.

But Williamson was prouder of his performance as a different kind of politician, in the movie-length adaptation of The Resistable Rise Of Arturo Uri. He played a Hitler-like protagonist in the BBC's potent take on Bertolt Brecht's rise-of-the-Nazis parable. He also spoke fondly of a rare bad guy role alongside Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine in 1975 thriller The Wilby Conspiracy. Richard Lester's Robin And Marian, meanwhile, brought a much-valued opportunity to work with Audrey Hepburn.

The actor, who was known as a straighforward, private man, leaves his son, Luke. "He was the most honest, funny and intelligent man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing," writes Luke on Williamson's official website. "He was my father and words cannot adequately express how proud I am of him."
 


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Your Comments

The Once & Future Merlin
I only just found out today, 12th February 2012, about his sad departing. Besides the greatest Arthurian film to date that made me the biggest King Arthur fan, his Merlin made it forever his own & forever loved by fans alike & he was so funny which lightened a wonderfully dark telling of Englands greatest legend of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table & the greatest wizard Merlin. R.I.P. Mr Williamson, K.S.G. More

Posted by K.S.G. at 23:05 on 12 February 2012 | Report This Post

A Sad Loss!
Nicol Williamson was and always will be the best Merlin as he was in the best King Arthur film ever! His screen presence was exceptional and a warming presence. Rest in peace More

Posted by dannyfletch at 11:21 on 30 January 2012 | Report This Post

A great actor
As his son says, the mould is broken for actors like him. He was a powerhouse. More

Posted by Irons at 16:44 on 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

Utter legend
The best Merlin there has ever been. More

Posted by jamiemulls at 10:45 on 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

Utter legend
The best Merlin there has ever been. More

Posted by jamiemulls at 10:45 on 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

A Great
Always mesmerizing, even when barely recognizable in Return to Oz, or as part of an equally brilliant ensemble in the 7 per cent solution. And a good writer too. Has been missed for quite some time, and now permanently so. More

Posted by deadmanjones at 23:22 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

A Great
Always mesmerizing, even when barely recognizable in Return to Oz, or as part of an equally brilliant ensemble in the 7 per cent solution. And a good writer too. Has been missed for quite some time, and now permanently so. More

Posted by deadmanjones at 23:22 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

Sadly Missed
The will never be a greater Merlin (for me) More

Posted by bnicholson50 at 19:05 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

Greatly Missed
One of the Greats has gone.R.I.P More

Posted by cabbie at 18:37 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

Greatly Missed
One of the Greats has gone.R.I.P More

Posted by cabbie at 18:36 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

Great loss
R.I.P. More

Posted by nybras at 15:28 on 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

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