Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Godspeed Nigel Terry

Nigel Terry, who played King Arthur in Excalibur (1981), Prince John in The Lion in Winter (1968), and the painter of the title in Caravaggio (1986), died on April 30 2015 at the age of 69. The cause was emphysema.

Nigel Terry was born on August 15 1945 in Bristol, Gloucestershire. His family later moved  to Truro, Cornwall. When he was young he had waned to be a painter. While still attending school he participated in the National Youth Theatre in holidays. Nigel Terry worked in both forestry and as a gas station attendant before he studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 1963. He made his stage debut on at the Shaw Theatre in London in a production of The Long and the Short and the Tall by Willis Hall. In his stage career Nigel Terry spent time in repertory with the Oxford Playhouse and the Bristol Old Vic. He also performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Mr. Terry made his television debut in 1967 in an episode of Summer Playhouse. He played Sir Walter Raleigh in the mini-series Kenilworth. In the late Sixties he appeared in episodes of the shows ITV Play of the Week, The Golden Age, Theatre 625, Sherlock Holmes, Boy Meets Girl, Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Play of the Month, and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). He made his film debut as Prince John in The Lion in Winter in 1968. In 1975 he had an uncredited role in the film Flame.

It was in 1981 that Nigel Terry appeared in what might be his most famous role, that of King Arthur in Excalibur. In the Eighties he also appeared in the films Sylvia (1985), Déjà Vu (1985), Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1988), and War Requiem (1989). He appeared in a television production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1982. He appeared on the television programmes Ruth Rendell Mysteries and South of the Border.

In the Nineties Nigel Terry was one of the leads on the short lived TV show Covington Cross. He appeared in the mini-series The Orchid House, The Mushroom Picker, and Resort to Murder. He appeared on such TV shows as Zorro, Highlander, In Suspicious Circumstances, Wycliffe, The Vet, Mortimer's Law, and Holby City. He appeared in the films Sight of Land (1991), Edward II (1991), Genghis Khan (1992), and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992).

In the Naughts Nigel Terry appeared in such films as On Wings of Fire (2001), The Search for John Gissing (2001), Feardotcom (2002), The Ride (2003), Troy (2004), Red Mercury (2005), and Genghis Khan: The Story of a Lifetime (2010). He appeared on such TV shows as The Vice, Cutting It, Walking the Dead, Foyle's War, Spooks, The Time of Your Life, Casualty, Doctor Who, and Agatha Christie's Marple.

Nigel Terry had an aristocratic bearing and a voice to match that made him ideal for playing important historical or legendary figures. It is what made him possibly the best King Arthur to ever appear on the silver screen in Excalibur. That having been said, he was also an actor with an incredible range. Indeed, his best known role had in common with King Arthur beyond the fact that they were both royalty--the scheming Prince John in The Lion in Winter. He was perfect in the role of noble and family patriarch Sir Thomas Grey on Covington Cross (which was sort of a medieval version of Bonanza). Over the years Nigel Terry played such diverse characters as Michelangelo Merisi  da Caravaggio , King Louis XI, and Zarathustra. While Mr. Terry played kings, nobles, and other characters of some importance throughout his career, he was capable of other roles. He was the prosperous farmer and Bathsheba's ardent suitor Boldwood in the 1998 TV adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, and an overzealous general in the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter". Over the years Nigel Terry appeared in a wide variety of roles, and he played all of them well.

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