David Warner, the versatile British actor whose roles have ranged from Shakespeare’s tragedies to science fiction cult classics, has passed away. He was 80 years old.
His family said Warner died on Sunday of a cancer-related illness at Denville Hall, a retirement home for artists in London.
Warner has appeared frequently as villains, in the 1971 psychological thriller “Straw Dogs,” the 1976 horror classic “The Omen,” the 1979 “Time After Time” (“Escape to the Future”) (as Jack the Ripper) and 1997, the movie “Titanic” in which he played the role of the evil sorcerer Spicer Lovejoy.
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Warner became a young star with the Royal Shakespeare Company in roles such as King Henry VI and King Richard II. His performance in the 1965 film “Hamlet” for the company directed by Peter Hall was considered one of the best of his generation.
RSC Honorary Artistic Director Gregor Doran said Warner Hamlet, who played a tormented student, “looked like the epitome of ’60s youth and captured the radical spirit of a turbulent era.”
Warner also starred in Hole’s 1968 film “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opposite Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg.
Despite being a popular stage actor, a chronic fear of the theater led Warner to prefer film and television for many years.
He was nominated for a BAFTA British Film Award for his starring role in Karel Reisz’s tragicomedy Swinging London titled Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, released in 1966. He later won an Emmy for his role as Romanian politician Pomponius Falco in the 1981 TV series” Masada.”
His film career was prolific in both Britain and the United States, and he became a science fiction fan favorite for his roles in Terry Gilliam’s “Time Bandits”, “Tron” on PC, Tim Burton’s version of “Planet of the Apes” (“Planet of the Apes” ) and the “Star Trek” (“Journey to the Stars”) franchise, in which he appeared several times in different roles.
Warner returned to the stage in 2001 after nearly three decades to play Andrew Shaft in the Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Barbara”. In 2005 he starred in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” at the Chichester Theater Festival, and in 2007 he returned to RSC to play Shakespeare’s comedic clown Falstaff.
One of his last film roles was as retired naval officer Admiral Baum in the 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns.
The Warner family said they would remember him “as a kind, generous and compassionate man, partner and father whose legacy of exceptional work has impacted the lives of so many over the years.”
The family said, “We are broke.”
They added that Warner is leaving his partner, Lisa Bowerman. His son Luke, daughter-in-law Sarah, “his good girlfriend Jane Spencer Pryor, his first wife Harriet Evans, and many of his friends are pure gold.”
“Professional problem solver. Subtly charming bacon buff. Gamer. Avid alcohol nerd. Music trailblazer.”