Nicol Williamson

Actor, Director, Writer
Nicol Williamson never achieved the household name status of Brando or Olivier, but by many critics' appraisals, his talents equaled the greats of his own or any generation. A native of Scotland, Williamson established ... Read more »
Born: 09/13/1936 in Hamilton, Scotland, , GB

Filmography

Actor (28)

Spawn 1997 (Movie)

Cogliostro (Actor)

The Wind in the Willows 1997 (Movie)

Badger (Actor)

The Advocate 1994 (Movie)

Seigneur Jehan d'Auferre (Actor)

William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist III 1990 (Movie)

Father Morning (Actor)

Black Widow 1987 (Movie)

William Macauley (Actor)

Masterpiece Theatre: Fifteen Years 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Christopher Columbus 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Return to Oz 1985 (Movie)

Doctor Worley (Actor)

I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can 1982 (Movie)

Derek Bauer (Actor)

Excalibur 1981 (Movie)

Merlin (Actor)

The Human Factor 1980 (Movie)

Maurice Castle (Actor)

Venom 1980 (Movie)

Commander William Bulloch (Actor)

The Word 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Goodbye Girl 1977 (Movie)

Oliver Fry (Actor)

Robin and Marian 1976 (Movie)

Little John (Actor)

The Seven Per-Cent Solution 1975 (Movie)

Sherlock Holmes (Actor)

The Wilby Conspiracy 1974 (Movie)

Horn (Actor)

Le Moine 1972 (Movie)

Duke (Actor)

The Tom Jones Special 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jerusalem File 1970 (Movie)

Lang (Actor)

Hamlet 1969 (Movie)

Hamlet (Actor)

Laughter in the Dark 1969 (Movie)

Sir Edward More (Actor)

The Bofors Gun 1969 (Movie)

Gunner Danny O'Rourke (Actor)

The Reckoning 1969 (Movie)

Michael Marler (Actor)

Inadmissible Evidence 1968 (Movie)

Bill Maitland (Actor)

Passion Flower (TV Show)

Actor

Sakharov (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Nicol Williamson never achieved the household name status of Brando or Olivier, but by many critics' appraisals, his talents equaled the greats of his own or any generation. A native of Scotland, Williamson established himself as a force of a new generation of British actors in 1964 as the star of West End production of "Inadmissable Evidence," going on to take the show to Broadway, a Tony nomination and the starring role in the 1968 film adaptation. He delivered what many regarded as the definitive "Hamlet" of his time in a U.K. restaging that went on to play Broadway. But his fortunes went offset by a reputation as an enfant terrible, earned in a series of dustups with dramatists and fellow actors. He again wowed live audiences and critics with his turns in "Macbeth," "Uncle Vanya" and "Rex" and shone in films such as "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" (1976) and "The Human Factor" (1979), not to mention his signature turn as Merlin in the 1981 film adaptation of the Arthurian cycle, "Excalibur" (1981). He would find work in major television events, foremost ITV's 1986 Mountbatten biopic, and do two disparate Broadway and West End productions playing legendary, similarly tempestuous John Barrymore. Still, dogged by his reputation as "difficult," Williamson became an archetypal example of a talent so raw and untamable as to never truly find its widest audience.

Relationships

Jill Townsend Actor

Wife
Married on July 17, 1971 Divorced in 1977

Hugh Williamson

Father
Norwegian Scot

Mary Williamson

Mother
Norwegian Scot

Luke Williamson

Son
Mother, Jill Townsend

EDUCATION

Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art

Birmingham 1953 - 1956

Milestones

2001

Landed starring role in stage production of "King Lear"

1997

Final film appearance, as Cogliostro in fantasy action feature "Spawn"

1996

Played Badger in Terry Jones' live-action "The Wind in the Willows"

1996

Essayed Barrymore again on Broadway, this time in one-man show "Jack – A Night on the Town with John Barrymore"; created show with director Leslie Megahey

1991

Portrayed the ghost of John Barrymore in "I Hate Hamlet" on Broadway; swatted his co-star one night during performance on the backside with a sword, producing a three-inch long, black-and-blue mark

1990

Cast as Father Morning in horror sequel "The Exorcist III"

1985

Played Doctor Worley and the Nome King in Walter Murch's "Return to Oz"

1982

Directed and starred in "Macbeth" at NYC's Circle in the Square

1981

Portrayed Merlin in John Boorman's "Excalibur"

1978

Reprised "Inadmissible Evidence" in London and NYC

1976

Played Little John to Sean Connery's Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn's Lady Marian in "Robin and Marian"

1976

Received enthusiastic notices for his portrayal of a cocaine-snifffing Sherlock Holmes in "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution"

1976

Slapped a fellow cast member one night during curtain call while appearing on Broadway as Henry VIII in the short-lived Richard Rodgers musical "Rex"

1975

Directed "Uncle Vanya" for Royal Shakespeare Company

1974

Joined all-star cast including Lillian Gish, George C Scott and Julie Christie for Mike Nichols' Broadway production of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya"

1968

Returned to Broadway as "Hamlet" in production directed by Tony Richardson; critic Martin Gottfried called it "the most unintelligible performance of the role I think I have ever seen"; play translated to film and released the same year

1968

Acted in Richardson's feature "Laughter in the Dark"

1968

Feature film acting debut in "Inadmissable Evidence"; released just days before second feature "The Bofors Gun"

1965

Made Broadway debut in John Osborne's "Inadmissable Evidence"; earned Tony nomination in 1966

1963

Short film acting debut in "The Six-Sided Triangle"

1962

Became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company

1961

London debut, "That's Us"

1960

Theatrical debut with Dundee Repertory Company, Scotland

Bonus Trivia

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"He did what no other actor, living or dead, has ever done. He was a vaudeville man, a light comedian, a matinee idol [and] a silent star who then became a talking picture star."And in the middle of all this, he became the greatest classical actor in America and the Hamlet of his generation. Not bad. Nobody else has ever done that. Olivier didn't come near it." – Williamson on John Barrymore, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1996

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In 1965, during the Philadelphia tryout of John Osborne's "Inadmissible Evidence," Williamson reportedly punched David Merrick in the face after the producer fired the play's director, Anthony Page. Legend has it that Williamson then picked up the stunned producer and stuffed him into a garbage can."I'm afraid people in America are going to remember me only as the bloke who pinned one on Merrick," he said at the time.

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