Date of Birth : Sep 14th 1936

Scottish actor who was described by English playwright John Osborne as “the greatest actor since Marlon Brando”. Williamson made his professional debut with the Dundee Rep in 1960 and the following year appeared with the Arts Theatre in Cambridge. The following year, he made his London debut 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’s Inadmissible Evidence for which he won a Tony award when it transferred to Broadway in 1965. 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 including Anthony Hopkins and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull later stated in her autobiography “Faithfull” that she and Williamson had had an affair while filming Hamlet.

Some of his other notable film performances are as 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; a suicidal Irish soldier in the 1968 film The Bofors Gun; Sherlock Holmes in the 1976 Herbert Ross film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution; and Little John in the 1976 Richard Lester film Robin and Marian. More recently he has appeared as Lord Louis Mountbatten in “Lord Mountbatten – The Last Viceroy” (1985) and as Badger in the 1996 movie adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and as Cogliostro in the 1997 movie adaptation of Todd McFarlane’s comic book, Spawn.

Williamson is 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 producer David Merrick. In 1968 he apologized to the audience for his performance one night while playing Hamlet and then walked off the stage, announcing he was retiring. In 1976 he slapped an actor during the curtain call for the Broadway musical Rex, and in 1991 he hit his co-star (Evan Handler) on the backside with a sword during a Broadway performance of I Hate Hamlet.


Spawn ( 1997 )

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Return to Oz ( 1985 )

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Excalibur ( 1981 )

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The Bofors Gun ( 1968 )

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