Actor Paul Scofield has died. As CSJ noted over at TCM City, due to its scope and length, this obit must have been done years ago (and updated since):
From the NYTimes: (which requires registration, thus I am copying it here for all to enjoy)
Paul Scofield, British Actor, Dies at 86
By BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE
Paul Scofield, the British actor who created the role of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons” and brought freshness and power to Hamlet, King Lear and many other classic roles, died Wednesday at a hospital near his home in southern England, the Associated Press reported. He was 86.
He had been suffering from leukemia, his agent Rosalind Chatto said.
Mr. Scofield won international fame and an Academy Award for the 1966 film of “A Man for All Seasons.”
Although he was regarded by his peers as one of the greatest actors in the English-speaking world, Mr. Scofield would have been better known to the public if he had been less withdrawn. He seldom gave interviews and never appeared on television talk shows, explaining that he hated chatting about himself and found his craft difficult to discuss. A shy, reclusive man, he even refused to accept the knighthood that was offered to him in the 1960’s. He became so used to being described by journalists as a private person that, he once joked, “I half-expect people to phone me and say, ‘Hello, is that Paul Scofield, the very private person?’ ”
It was always difficult to sum up Paul Scofield’s qualities, because he was so wide-ranging an actor. But as early as 1949, the critic Harold Hobson wrote that all his performances “have something of the other world about them: invariably he looks as if he has been reading ‘The Turn of the Screw’ and seen ghosts at midnight.”
Thanks partly to his bearing and his height — he stood 6 foot 2 — Mr. Scofield could also project external power and authority. The critical consensus was that beside Mr. Scofield, Laurence Olivier was lacking in depth and soul, John Gielgud was deficient in physical energy and a sense of danger, and Ralph Richardson was short on versatility.
Mr. Scofield’s fellow professionals were equally impressed. Gielgud admired his stillness and sense of mystery, describing him as “a sphinx with a secret.” Peter Hall, who directed his Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” said that as a young man he brought “a sulphurous passion, an entirely new note” to the stage, and that there was always a tremendous tension beneath the surface, “like a volcano erupting.” Richard Eyre, who directed him in the title role in Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman” in 1996, maintained that he was “not just best there is, but the best there has ever been.”
His looks and voice were highly distinctive. His rocklike face became more and more lined with time, giving the impression of some deeply fissured cliff. The voice put the film director Fred Zinnemann in mind of “a Rolls Royce being started,” but it was surprisingly adaptable. When he played Othello, or Captain Shotover in Shaw’s “Heartbreak House,” it seemed majestically to rumble. Yet when he played the title role in an adaptation of “Don Quixote,” it had become a tormented falsetto. He was, he said, “prepared to sound ugly as long as the meaning is fresh.”
Mr. Scofield was physically adaptable as well. That was certainly the case with the character he rehearsed while still playing Hamlet in 1956, the “whisky priest” in Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory.” Peter Brook, who directed, described in his memoirs how the role eluded Mr. Scofield until “Hamlet” closed and he cut his mane of hair: “The door opened and a small man entered. He was wearing a black suit, steel-rimmed glasses and holding a suitcase. For a moment we wondered why this stranger was wandering on our stage. Then we realized it was Paul, transformed. His tall body had shrunk, he had become insignificant.” The performance that followed is remembered as one of his finest.
But the role that brought Mr. Scofield international renown, was Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons,” which opened on the London stage in 1960. The mix of moral strength, intelligence, melancholy and wily grace he brought to Henry VIII’s disgraced Lord Chancellor won him a Tony Award when he made his Broadway debut in the role in the 1961-2 season. That was followed by an Academy Award as best actor when Fred Zinnemann directed him in the movie version.
Although Mr. Scofield’s Thomas More is indelibly remembered, most critics rated others of his performances even more highly. When he played Khlestakov in Gogol’s “Government Inspector” in 1966 as “a fantasticated poseur as stupid as his victims,” Peter Hall said it was one of the half-dozen best he had ever seen. Collectors of great acting cited his Lear, his brooding Uncle Vanya in 1970, his titanically angry Timon of Athens in 1965, his magnificently warm, doting Othello in 1980, his darkly embittered Salieri in 1981 and his Voight, the ex-jailbird who poses as a military man in Zuckmayer’s “Captain of Koepenick.”
When the National Theater staged “Captain of Koepenick”in 1971, every part of Mr. Scofield seemed to be acting, from his adenoidal voice to his dropped eyelids, from his slumped shoulders to feet that shuffled, danced or trudged, depending on the state of the character’s private war with German bureaucracy.
Despite his prodigious gifts and international fame, when the curtain fell Mr. Scofield simply hopped the commuter train back to his family. “I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to be a star personality and live my life out in public,” he once said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to wave personality about like a flag and become labeled.”
Paul Scofield was born David Paul Scofield on Jan. 21, 1922, in the village of Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, where his father became the headmaster of the local school. He received his secondary education at Varndean School in nearby Brighton and made his debut as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” on the school stage in 1935. “I had to wear an embarrassing blond wig.” he once recalled. “But it was a turning point, because thenceforward there was nothing else I wanted to do.”
Soon afterward the stage-struck boy was hired to appear in a crowd scene in a touring adaptation of Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” that visited the Theatre Royal in Brighton; he always kept as a memento the cudgel he had to wave. That appearance reinforced his determination to become a professional actor, and in 1939 he enrolled at a small school attached to the Croydon Repertory Theater. The school closed soon after the outbreak of World War II, but young Scofield, who was excused from military service because of deformed toes, moved on to the Mask School in London, which itself was then evacuated from its headquarters in Westminster to Bideford, Devon.
At Bideford and later at Cambridge he gave public performances in roles ranging from the psychotic killer in Emlyn Williams’s “Night Must Fall” to the title character in Obey’s “Noah” for a student company run by Sybil Thorndike’s sister, Eileen. There followed a series of professional tours, largely to hostels for munitions workers, during which the young actor got the chance to play Horatio and Tybalt in “Hamlet” and Sergius in Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” It was in this period that he met and married a fellow performer, Joy Parker.
His first big break came in 1944, when at 22 he was asked by Sir Barry Jackson to join one of the Britain’s most important companies, the Birmingham Repertory Theater. In his first year, Mr. Scofield’s roles included Young Marlow in Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” and Konstantin in Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” He was admired by the local critics for his “shaggy grace” as well as for his gift for the ironic and sardonic. The following year a 20-year-old director and enfant terrible named Peter Brook arrived at Birmingham and a unique collaboration was struck.
As Mr. Brook recalled in his memoirs, he was introduced to Paul Scofield by Sir Barry: “As we shook hands, I looked into a face that unaccountably in a young man was streaked and mottled like old rock, and I was instantly aware that something very deep lay hidden beneath his ageless appearance. Paul was courteous, distant, but as we began to work an instant understanding arose between us, needing very few words, and I realized that beneath the gentle modesty of his behavior lay the absolute assurance of a born artist.”
It was the start of a partnership that was to culminate in Mr. Scofield’s memorable King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, a character that, as redefined by Mr. Brook and his leading actor, was far from the majestic victim of theatrical tradition. For once, audiences could see the cruel daughters’ point of view. Here was a choleric, wilfully arrogant, dangerously mercurial, semiretired tyrant, and, largely as a consequence, one whose emotional re-education was particularly painful.
“This production brings me closer to Lear than I have ever been,” wrote the critic Kenneth Tynan. “From now on I not only know him but can place him in his harsh and unforgiving world.”
Among the first fruits of the Brook-Scofield partnership were a brilliant Tanner in Shaw’s “Man and Superman,” a magnetic b****** in Shakespeare’s “King John” and a grim Dr. Mangel in Ibsen’s “Lady from the Sea.”
“He annexed playgoing Birmingham,” said J. C. Trewin, later the theater critic of the Birmingham Post, in the short study of Mr. Scofield he published in 1956. It was, then, no great surprise when he went on virtually to annex Stratford in the summer seasons between 1946 and 1948, demonstrating his range by playing for Peter Brook a glittering Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” and a melancholy Don Armado in “Love’s Labor’s Lost” , and, for other directors, Henry V, Cloten in “Cymbeline,” Mephistopheles in Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus,” Troilus, Bassanio, Pericles, a vulnerable, haunted Hamlet and a Andrew Aguecheek in “Twelfth Night” that one critic likened to “a knight made of pink blancmange.”
Clearly, Mr. Scofield was ready to storm London, and he did so, first as Alexander the Great in Terence Rattigan’s “Adventure Story,” next in Peter Brook’s production of the fashionable Jean Anouilh’s “Ring Round the Moon,” in which he played identical twins, one a heartless rogue, the other a retiring, ingenuous fellow.
By the early 1950’s Paul Scofield was firmly established as the leading actor of his generation, the natural successor to the ruling triumvirate of Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson. It was inevitable that when Mr. Brook wanted a Hamlet strong enough both for the West End and a groundbreaking visit to Moscow during the Cold War , he should turn to Mr. Scofield, and that Mr. Scofield should respond with a performance of the prince that was widely regarded as even deeper and more wounded than the one he had given to such acclaim seven years before.
Inevitably Mr. Scofield came to the attention of Hollywood. He had turned down the offer of a seven-year film contract in 1946, feeling that the stage was where he belonged. But in 1955 he made his screen debut, playing King Philip of Spain opposite Olivia de Havilland in a period movie called “That Lady.”
His performance won him a British Film Academy Award and the praise of the film’s production chief, Daryl Zanuck, who said, “That actor! The best I have seen since John Barrymore.” But Mr. Scofield resisted the temptation to move to Hollywood, explaining that too many actors simply mouldered there. “Something told me, don’t go!” he once recalled. “Very, very few English actors managed to work successfully in Hollywood — the Basil Rathbones and Cary Grants.”
When he took on a role, Mr. Scofield said that he ignored the advice of friends and agents, did not take money into consideration, and listened only to his inner voice. Sometimes that led to disasters, as when he agreed to play the role of a newspaper editor in Jeffrey Archer’s “Exclusive” and ended up assailed by critics for contributing little more than “a ridiculous nasal whine” to a critical and commercial flop.
His inner voice also led to a serious if brief falling-out in 1961 with Peter Hall, then the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, when Mr. Scofield put a whole season in jeopardy by belatedly reneging on his agreement to play Shylock, Petruchio, and the role of Thersites in “Troilus and Cressida.” “Something deep inside was telling him it wasn’t right,” wrote Mr. Hall in his memoirs, admitting it took time before friendly relations were restored.
That inner voice also played a major part in Mr. Scofield’s rehearsals, which were painstaking yet ultimately based on instinct. As he said in a rare interview, technique is “what you find yourself doing.” He arrived in the rehearsal room without plans or preconceptions, trusting that he would discover some aspect of the character on which he could build a lively, varied performance. That aspect was often a voice, sometimes a walk or a hairstyle, occasionally a key phrase. As Mr. Brook noted, “on a simple word like ‘night,’ he’ll pause, stirred up in some mysterious inner chamber, and his whole nature will respond.”
Mr. Scofield was seen infrequently on the stage in the 1980s and even more seldom in the 1990s, partly because he found little work that attracted him, partly because of native caution. “As you get older, the more you know, so the more nervous you become,” he said. “The risks are much bigger.”
However, his last performance, Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman at the National Theater in 1996, was powerful enough to win him a major best-actor award. During that period, he also gave some striking performances on the screen, notably as the ghost in Franco Zefferelli’s version of “Hamlet,” as the American professor Mark Van Doren in Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show,” and as both the wealthy grandfather and the amoral great-uncle of the title character in a television adaptation of Dickens’s “Martin Chuzzlewit.”
Mr. Scofield made no secret of his dislike of public life. He served as a director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1968 and as an associate director of the National Theater from 1970 to 1972, but in each case found the post unfulfilling. He became a Commander of the British Empire in 1956, but, after years of politely refusing to discuss the matter, admitted in 1996 that he had rejected the next step up the honors ladder. “I have every respect” for people who are offered a knighthood, he said. “It’s just not an aspect of life I would want. If you want a title, what’s wrong with Mister?”
Though his warmth and generosity both in the rehearsal room and on the stage were frequently acknowledged, Mr. Scofield did not often mix socially with his fellow actors. He commuted to London from Balcombe, the village near Hurstpierpoint where he and his wife had lived for many years, and, at the end of a performance, would simply return home by train. It was, he once said, a matter of reclaiming the identity he was temporarily sacrificing in the theater.
He often went for long walks in the Sussex hills, liked to bake bread, and occasionally paid a visit to the Scottish island of Mull, where his daughter Sarah lives. In addition to his wife of 64 years he is survived by his daughter and a son, Martin.
Lynn in Sherman Oaks
"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."
"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese
Avatar-My beloved City of Angels