For Merlin: a tribute to Nicol Williamson

Nicol Williamson (1936-2011)  was one of the most unique and dynamic actors to appear on stage or screen.  Born in Hamilton, Scotland, to an industrial family, he was brought up in Birmingham but never lost his Scottish burr or roots.  After training at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, and completing his National Service, his professional debut came in 1960 at Dundee Rep.

By the end of the 1960s he was already marked out as a major and interesting performer on the stage, and with his film debuts in 1968 (The Bofurs Gun, Inadmissable Evidence, The Reckoning) a star was born – or at least should have been.  However Williamson was known for being difficult and often walked out in the theatre during performances.  His talent was perhaps eventually as legendary as his temper.  However, when he focused and produced the best of his work, he had no equal.

He played ‘Hamlet’ in the film directed by Tony Richardson (1969), and Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Seven Per Cent Solution’ (opposite Robert Duvall as Watson, 1976, directed by Herbert Ross).  For Richard Lester he appeared as Little John in ‘Robin and Marian’ (with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the leads) and acquitted himself well, producing a sympathetic yet tough character.  But it was in 1981 when he appeared as the sorcerer Merlin in the film ‘Excalibur’ where his edgy personality and unusual voice took centre stage and provided one of his most memorable roles.

By the 1990s Williamson’s career was taking some diverse directions – he appeared on stage as John Barrymore in the play ‘Jack: A Night On The Town’, while on film he essayed a great comic performance as Mr Badger in Terry Jones’ ‘The Wind In The Willows’.  His final film performance came in 1997 in ‘Spawn’ – since then, he has concentrated on his music (he was a fine singer) and recordings with his band were completed shortly before his death.

Williamson was married once (1971-77) to the actress Jill Townsend.  The official website for Nicol Williamson, run by his son Luke, can be found at http://www.nicolwilliamson.com, which includes a number of rare recordings and information.

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

One response to “For Merlin: a tribute to Nicol Williamson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Emily Baycroft

Freelance Theatre Producer and Administrator

MTAS

WE MADE BADGES COOL AGAIN

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

LIFE'S TOO SHORT TO BE NICHE ...

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

The Actor's Advocate

In defence of acting

Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Emily Baycroft

Freelance Theatre Producer and Administrator

MTAS

WE MADE BADGES COOL AGAIN

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

LIFE'S TOO SHORT TO BE NICHE ...

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

The Actor's Advocate

In defence of acting

%d bloggers like this: