Thursday, January 26, 2012

RIP: Nicol Williamson

Nicol Williamson, an actor of tremendous power and originality, and a wonderful maverick spirit, died in Amsterdam on December 16. The announcement was made only yesterday.

Here he is playing  Merlin's farewell scene in the movie Excalibur (I couldn't embed it, so click on the link instead). I love this film, perhaps beyond all reason, and Williamson's performance as Merlin sits at the film's very centre.

For full (and dare I say, almost amusing) obituaries go here and here.

The LA Times leads with this anecdote:

Once heralded as the greatest British actor of his generation, Nicol Williamson was also a legend for stormy onstage behavior that included calling off a performance of "Hamlet" mid-speech because he was too tired to go on.

"I'll pay for the seats," he later recalled telling the audience in 1969, "but I won't shortchange you by not giving my best." And then he walked off.

The NY Times has him as 'mercurial,' which I always take to infer as someone who defies rules and categorization, someone who won't be held accountable. Someone admirable, then.

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