National Theatre Veteran Michael Bryant Dies at 74Date: 26 April 2002
Multi award-winning stage veteran Michael Bryant died peacefully at his home yesterday after a long battle with cancer. The actor, who celebrated his birthday on 5 April, was 74.
While in his long career Bryant has performed with the English Stage and Royal Shakespeare Companies, he is best known for his innumerable roles at the National Theatre where he has been seen regularly since 1977, most recently as Firs alongside Corin and Vanessa Redgrave in Trevor Nunn's 2000 production of The Cherry Orchard.
In a statement released today, Trevor Nunn celebrated the contribution that Bryant had made on the South Bank: "Michael Bryant was the spirit and essence of the National Theatre. He embodied the ideas of ensemble, continuity and loyalty; he played mighty leading roles and crucial smaller parts with equal passion and commitment; he taught succeeding generations by his example and bestrode the worlds of classic and contemporary drama with the same flare; and he also had a devilish sense of humour.
"I first met Michael in 1964, and so I have lost a very dear friend and colleague," Nunn continued. "But the loss is more than personal, it is a huge loss to the National, to the theatre profession and indeed to our country."
Amongst Bryant's many productions at the National, Bryant won two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Supporting Performance - for King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra in 1987 and for Hamlet, The Voysey Inheritance and Racing Demon in 1989/90. More recently, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Summerfolk in 2000. His other recent NT credits include The Wind in the Willows, Murmuring Judges, The Absence of War, The Invention of Love and Peter Pan.
On screen, Bryant's credits included Colditz, Three Sisteres, Roads to Freedom, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Ruling Class, Gandhi and Sakharov.
- by Terri Paddock