LONDON (AP) – David Warner, a versatile British actor whose roles have ranged from Shakespearean tragedies to cult sci-fi classics, has died. He was 80.
Warner’s family said he died of cancer-related illnesses on Sunday at Denville Hall, a retirement home for entertainers in London.
Often cast as a villain, Warner has had roles in the 1971 psychological thriller Straw Dogs, the 1976 horror classic The Omen, the 1979 time-travel adventure Time After Time – he was Jack the Ripper – and the 1997 blockbuster Titanic ‘, where he played the villain’s valet, Spicer Lovejoy.
Educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Warner became a young star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing roles such as King Henry VI. and King Richard II. His 1965 performance in the title role of Hamlet for the ensemble, directed by Peter Hall, was considered one of the best of his generation.
Gregor Doran, RSC artistic director emeritus, said Warner’s Hamlet, played as a troubled student, “seems to epitomize 1960s youth and capture the radical spirit of a turbulent age.”
Warner also starred in Hall’s 1968 film A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opposite Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg.
Despite his acclaim as a stage actor, his chronic stage fright led Warner to prioritize film and television work for many years.
He was nominated for a British Academy Film Award for the title role in Karel Reisz’s Swinging London tragic comedy Morgan, released in 1966. He later won an Emmy for his role as Roman politician Pomponius Falco in the 1981 television miniseries “Masada.”
He had a successful film and television career in Britain and the United States and was loved by sci-fi fans for his roles in Terry Gilliam’s “Time Bandits”, the computer film “Tron” and Tim Burton’s remake of “Planet of the Apes”. and the “Star Trek” franchise, where he made several appearances in various roles.
Warner returned to theater in 2001 after nearly three decades to play Andrew Undershaft in a Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara. In 2005 he starred in Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Chichester Festival Theater and returned to the RSC in 2007 to play Shakespeare’s comic buffoon Falstaff.
One of his last film roles was as retired naval officer Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins Returns, released in 2018.
Warner’s family said he will be “remembered as a kind, generous and compassionate man, partner and father whose legacy of exceptional work has touched the lives of so many over the years.”
“We are heartbroken,” said the family.
They said Warner is survived by his partner Lisa Bowerman, his son Luke, his daughter-in-law Sarah, “his good friend Jane Spencer Prior, his first wife Harriet Evans and his many gold dust friends.”
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