(Michael Coveney’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/3.)
Every now and then, a strange and mystical being wanders through the British theatre, and Nigel Terry, who has died of emphysema aged 69, was a prime example. Terry was admired by all who worked with him and revered by his contemporaries, fully deserving that over-used description “an actor’s actor”.
He made a sensational film debut in Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter (1968) as a drooling young Prince John, no way fazed by playing scenes with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. But unlike his fellow debutants on this film – Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton – he became a hermit to Hollywood until he burst forth again as a rueful, melancholic King Arthur in John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981), playing opposite Helen Mirren as Morgana and Nicol Williamsonas Merlin.