Theatre News

Tributes paid to actor David Warner, who has died aged 80

David Warner
David Warner
© RSC, photo by Ellie Kurttz

The theatre community has responded to the news that screen and stage star David Warner has died aged 80.

Warner, who was perhaps best known for his screen roles in Titanic and The Omen, was a frequent stage performer, leading some of the most significant Shakespearean revivals of the 20th century.

The RSC’s artistic director emeritus Gregory Doran said today: “I’m very sad to hear the news that David Warner has died.

“In 1963, David was part of the legendary Wars of the Roses cycle, directed by Peter Hall, in John Barton’s adaptation, playing King Henry VI. When the second history tetralogy was added the following year to celebrate the Shakespeare tercentenary, David played Richard II, and delightfully, in the spirit of ensemble, Mouldy, one of the Gloucestershire recruits, in Henry IV Part Two.

“David’s most iconic role for the RSC was as Hamlet in 1965, directed again by Peter Hall, with Glenda Jackson as Ophelia, and Elizabeth Spriggs as Gertrude, with Brewster Mason as Claudius and the Ghost. A tortured student, in his long orange scarf, David seemed the epitome of 1960s youth, and caught the radical spirit of a turbulent age.

“In Peter Hall’s 1969 film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, David played Lysander, alongside Helen Mirren as Hermia, Diana Rigg as Helena, and Michael Jayston as Demetrius.

“After a varied career in film and TV, David returned to the company in 2007 to be part of Michael Boyd’s Histories, playing Sir John Falstaff. He was a generous spirit, a kind man, and a huge talent.”

More recently, Warner appeared in Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s Inside No 9 on screen. Shearsmith said today: “Immaculate and singular in every part he played. Such fun working together, (always patient with me when I discussed his head coming off in The Omen).An honour to have worked with him and got to see him at his absolute funniest. A sad day.”

Director Edgar Wright said: “Very sad to hear of David Warner’s passing, an actor with a huge legacy on stage and screen and unforgettable roles.”

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss also said: “I grew up in awe of David Warner as a stalwart of so many of my favourite movies. To work extensively with him and to call him my friend was a gift beyond words. Goodnight, sweet Prince.”