To this day, Excalibur is still one of my favorite movies, and it saddens me to think of the many actors from it that were gone too soon.
In addition to Excalibur, he has appeared in approximately a dozen films, like The Lion in Winter (1968), where he appeared with Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole and Anthony Hopkins, playing the teenaged upstart Prince John. He also appeared in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio (1986), where he played the title character. He appeared in Troy (2004) playing the Trojan high priest and Prince Telephus, as well as the 2006Hallmark Channel production of Blackbeard as a marooned sailor.
His main US and British television appearances include Covington Cross, a series set in medieval times. He also appeared in Casualty as Denny, as General Cobb in the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter" and as Gabriel Piton in Highlander: The Series. He also played Sam Jacobs in a two-part Waking the Dead episode called "Anger Management".
Clay also appeared in several West End theatre productions. He was cast in several of Laurence Olivier's Old Vic productions and during the decade came to be regarded as one of British theatre's most promising actors. Among his successes was The Misanthrope, which led Clay to the United States, where he also played this role on Broadway in 1975.
He appeared as "Alan" in the 1976 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray alongside Peter Firth. In 1978 he played Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton in the drama series Will Shakespeare, about the life of Shakespeare.
His early films included the cult thriller The Night Digger (1971) and The Darwin Adventure (1972) as the young Charles Darwin. In 1981 he performed in his most widely-seen screen performance as Lancelot in the 1981 film Excalibur. He also appeared as Mellors in Just Jaeckin's film version of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), and Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun (1982), the latter reuniting him with Diana Rigg, his co-star in The Misanthrope.
Clay continued working regularly on stage and appeared in a number of made-for-television films and miniseries. In 1984, he played Mike Preston in the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense episode "Child's Play".
In 1983, Clay appeared as Stapleton in a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Two years later, in 1985, he appeared in another Sherlock Holmes adaptation in the role of Doctor Percy Trevelyan in an episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes entitled "The Resident Patient". He also appeared in the UK ITV series Gentlemen and Players in 1988-89.
In 1992, he appeared with Kim Thomson in the BBC TV series Virtual Murder, and played Lord Leo in the 1998 TV version of Merlin starring Sam Neill. His final screen appearance was in Roger Ashton-Griffiths' short film, And Beyond.
In the last years of his life, Clay taught drama at the Actors' Centre and the Academy of Live and Performing Arts, and also worked in association with Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, generally in the role of promoting the organisation, or providing advice to acting students.
After his national service as a gunner in the Airborne Division, Williamson made his professional debut with the Dundee Repertory Theatre in 1960 and the following year appeared with the Arts Theatre inCambridge. In 1962 he made his London debut as Flute in Tony Richardson's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre. His first major success came in 1964 with John Osborne'sInadmissible Evidence for which he was nominated for a Tony Award when it transferred to Broadway in 1965. 1964 also saw him appearing as Vladimir in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Royal Court Theatre. In 1968, he starred in the film version. Williamson's Hamlet for Tony Richardson at the Roundhouse caused a sensation and was later transferred to New York and made into a film, with a cast includingAnthony Hopkins and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull later stated in her autobiography Faithfull that she and Williamson had had an affair while filming Hamlet.
His most celebrated film role was as Merlin the magician in the King Arthur epic Excalibur in 1981. Director John Boorman cast him as Merlin opposite Helen Mirren as Morgana over the protests of both actors; the two had previously appeared together on stage in Macbeth, with disastrous results, and disliked each other intensely. It was Boorman's hope that the very real animosity that they had towards each other would generate more tension between them on screen, as is evident from their scenes together. Williamson gained recognition from a much wider fanbase for his performance as Merlin. A review of Excalibur in theLondon Times in 1981 said, "The actors are led by Williamson's witty, perceptive Merlin, missed every time he's off the screen."
Some of his other notable cinematic performances are as a deeply troubled Irish soldier in the 1968 Jack Gold film The Bofors Gun; Sherlock Holmes in the 1976 Herbert Ross film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution; andLittle John in the 1976 Richard Lester film Robin and Marian. Additionally, he portrayed an alcoholic attorney in I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can; a colonel in the Cincinnati Gestapo in Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective; as Lord Louis Mountbatten in Lord Mountbatten - The Last Viceroy (1985); the dual roles of Dr. Worley/The Nome King in Return To Oz (1985); Father Morning in The Exorcist III (1990); Badger in the 1996 movie adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows; and Cogliostro in the 1997 movie adaptation of Todd McFarlane's comic book Spawn.
Williamson made a major contribution to the documentary John Osborne and the Gift of Friendship, recalling episodes from his long professional relationship with Osborne. Recorded excerpts of his award-winning stage performance in Inadmissible Evidence also feature in the video.
Williamson was known for several tantrums and on-stage antics. During the Philadelphia tryout of Inadmissible Evidence, a play in which he delivered a performance that would win him a Tony Award nomination in 1965, he hit the equally mercurial producer David Merrick. In 1968 he apologised to the audience for his performance one night while playing Hamlet and then walked off the stage, announcing he was retiring.In the early 1970s, Williamson left the Dick Cavett Show prior to a scheduled appearance, leaving the host and guest Nora Ephron to fill the remaining time. In 1976, he slapped an actor[who?] during the curtain call for the Broadway musical, Rex. In 1991, he hit co-star Evan Handler on the backside with a sword during a Broadway performance of I Hate Hamlet.
Redgrave played a wide range of character roles on film, television and stage.
On stage, he was noted for performances by Shakespeare (such as Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV, Part 1, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest) and Noël Coward (notably a highly successful revival of A Song At Twilight co-starring his sister Vanessa Redgrave and his second wife, Kika Markham).
For his role as the prison warden Boss Whalen in the Royal National Theatre production of Tennessee Williams's Not About Nightingales, Redgrave was nominated for anEvening Standard Award, and after a successful transfer of the production to New York, his performance garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play, in 1999. Two years later he starred in the original London production of The General from America as Benedict Arnold. When the play transferred to Broadway the following season Redgrave switched roles and portrayed George Washington .
In 2005, Redgrave had just finished an engagement playing the lead in King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London when he suffered a severe heart attack. In 2008, he returned to the stage a highly praised portrayal of Oscar Wilde in the one-man-play De Profundis. In 2009, he starred in Trumbo, which opened only hours after the death of his niece, Natasha Richardson.
On screen he is best known for his roles in such acclaimed and diverse films as A Man for All Seasons (1966) as Thomas More's son-in-law; William Roper, Excalibur(1981) as the doomed Cornwall, In the Name of the Father (1993) as the corrupt lead police investigator, Persuasion and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) as Hamish, the fiancee of Andie MacDowell's character.
Redgrave appeared in British television programmes such as Ultraviolet, The Vice, Trial & Retribution, Shameless, Foyle's War, The Relief of Belsen and the Emmy Award-winning telefilm The Girl in the Cafe, in which he played the prime minister. He took the lead part of Sir George Grey in the 1977 New Zealand TV miniseries The Governor.
He wrote a play called Blunt Speaking, in which he performed at the Minerva Theatre (part of the Chichester Festival Theatre) between 23 July - 10 August 2002. (review The Mail on Sunday, 28 July 2002)
Addie was educated at Marlborough College, leaving at 16 to join the National Youth Theatre. He left there in 1975 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art(RADA), which, in turn, he left in 1980, to appear in John Boorman’s film Excalibur as Mordred. In 1989 Robert left acting, but returned to his acting career in 1995 both on the stage with Exiled Theatre and in film and television.
Addie's most acclaimed role (and the one for which he is most widely recognised and regarded) was as Sir Guy of Gisbourne in the 1980s series Robin of Sherwood.
Addie's stepfather was Jack Williams, a highly regarded British polo player, developer of the modern game and an individual very involved with both the British Royals and foreign polo players and teams including the Sultan of Brunei, and numerous American teams and individuals. Under Williams's tutelage, Addie became an accomplished horseman and polo player. (Williams's son and grandson are the polo players, Nick Williams Sr. and Nick Williams Jr.) Addie also spent time in Argentina, again with Williams. His family's house in Sapperton in the Cotswolds, near Cirencester meant that he was involved in polo every day through the season through much of the 1970s and early 1980s. He was a keen horseman and accomplished swordsman and former competitive archer.
Addie was married and divorced three times. He had three children: Alexander, Alastair and Caitlin. He died on 20 November 2003, aged 43, just three weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.