Joss Ackland, a veteran character actor known for his work on stage as well as screens big and small, has died. Ackland was 95 and familiar to film fans for the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, The Hunt For Red October. "It is with great sadness that I can confirm the passing of my great friend and long-term client Joss Ackland," the actor's manager Paul Pearson told The Wrap. "He died of old age this morning with his family around. He was lucid, erudite, and mischievous to the end. I loved him deeply and for me, he is the reason we have the word magnificent in the dictionary."
Ackland was born in Ladbroke Grove, London on 29 February 1928. He studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and made his stage debut at the age of 17 in a production of The Hasty Heart. He took on his first film role in 1950 when he starred in Seven Days To Noon. Ackland continued to act throughout the decade before moving to Malawi with his wife, Rosemary, where the two worked on a tea plantation.
On his return to the UK, Ackland kicked off a long and successful stage career, working on a variety of productions from Shakespeare to up-and-coming writers.
Film-wise, Ackland's CV includes Lethal Weapon 2 (where he was memorable villain Arjen Rudd – all together now, "Diplomatic immunity!"), Mighty Ducks, White Mischief, The Hunt For Red October and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. On TV, he was seen in such shows as Midsomer Murders, Kingdom and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
"I think really I came into the business because I was mad about movies. It just took me an immensely long time to get into them. I’m contrary to most people," Ackland told Strand magazine. "Most actors prefer to work on the stage. I enjoy rehearsing, I enjoy the theatre, but I do have a very low threshold of boredom. So after a while, doing the same thing every night for probably up to a year can be murder."
"With his distinctive voice and commanding presence, Ackland brought a unique intensity and gravitas to his role," said his family in a statement. "He will be remembered as one of Britain's most talented and beloved actors."