In 1967, David Warner was a movie star. He worked on more than 200 TV shows and movies, including “The Omen,” “Time After Time,” “TRON,” “Titanic,” and “Wallander.” Credit… Associated Press/Smith
Titanic and Omen actor David Warner dies
David Warner started his career on the British stage, where he played Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was only 24. He then moved on to movies and TV, gaining more than 200 credits, including “The Omen,” “Time After Time,” “TRON,” “Titanic,” and “Wallander.” He died on Sunday in Northwest London. He was 80.
In a statement, his family said that he died of “an illness related to cancer” at Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors.
Even though Mr. Warner played many different roles, he may have been most often thought of as a bad guy. In 1979’s “Time After Time,” he played Jack the Ripper. In 1981’s “Time Bandits,” he was just called “Evil Genius.” In the 1982 movie “TRON,” Jeff Bridges’s character, Kevin Flynn, is taken into the insides of a computer. In both the real world and the virtual world, he was Flynn’s enemy.
Mr. Warner told the British newspaper The Independent in 2003, “I’ve never been asked to play the happy, romantic lead.” “So I’ve never gotten the girl. I’ve worked with some very beautiful women, but they never want to stay with me.”
Not that roles like the one in “TRON” bothered him.
In the 1982 movie “TRON,” Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, is taken into a computer. Mr. Warner was Flynn’s enemy in both the real world and the computer world.
Productions by Walt Disney
Some actors are only good for a short time, but Mr. Warner kept getting jobs for a very long time. In the 1970s, his first full decade in movies and TV, he had more than 20 credits. In the 1990s, he had more than 80. He had a face that seemed to fit almost any role, whether it needed to be simple or complicated.
In 1968, Vincent Canby wrote in The Times that Mr. Warner’s performance as a soldier in the film drama “The Bofors Gun” made his face almost impossible to remember, like any of a thousand faces seen in a bus station. He meant this as a compliment. Emily Young, who directed him in the drama “Kiss of Life” in 2003, said almost the exact opposite.
She told The Independent, “David has such a strong presence.” “His body and face seem to show what he has learned in life.”
Peter Hall, who was the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the time, was the one who brought young Mr. Warner to the attention of the theatre world by giving him several important roles, including the lead in “Hamlet” in 1965. The way Mr. Warner played the role was very different from what theatregoers were used to, and reviews were mixed. Mark Gardner, who works for The Sunday Mercury in Birmingham, England, was one of his fans.
Mr. Gardner wrote, “This skinny, blinking, shy young man hides his sadness and insecurity with a clown’s hat and a khaki student’s uniform.”
“It’s a Hamlet for this confused, unhappy, and uncertain generation of people who came of age after World War II,” he said.
The show was put on again and again for two years. In an interview with The Times in 2001, Mr. Hall talked about Mr. Warner’s work.
“Most importantly, it was the Hamlet that really set the tone for the 1960s,” he said. “It was like Hamlet for young people. David’s kindness and lack of action fit in perfectly with flower power and all that. He was fantastic.”
In 2001, Mr. Warner made his American stage debut at the age of 60 in a production of “Major Barbara” by George Bernard Shaw by the Roundabout Theater Company in New York. This was a very surprising event. It was also the first time he had done anything on stage since 1972. He said that he had stopped doing stage work in part because he was afraid of doing it live.
In 2001, he told The Times, “You see, I’m not a man of the theatre.” “Not like McKellen, Jacobi, Ian Holm, and all the others who started at the bottom and worked their way up. I admired them when I was just starting out.”
Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, and Ian Holm, on the other hand, had become big stars in the theatre, while Mr. Warner was known for taking almost any film or TV role he was offered. He won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1981 miniseries “Masada,” which was about the Roman Empire’s siege of the Masada citadel in Israel, but he also played a Klingon chancellor in the “Star Trek” franchise. He made fun of that reputation by telling a story about a conversation he had with an old friend, Mr. Holm, after they finished filming a TV version of “Uncle Vanya” in 1991.
“I asked him what he was going to do next.” The Times heard from Mr. Warner. “And Ian, who was always very picky in a good way, said that he and Jeremy Irons would be in the Kafka movie. So he asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m making something called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.””
David Hattersley Warner was born in Manchester, England, on July 29, 1941. In 1982, he told The Times that his parents weren’t married and “kept taking me away from each other,” which meant that he moved around England a lot.
He studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and as he told the story, he had a seven-line part with an experimental theatre company when fate intervened.
“Peter Hall stopped by to see the show,” he said. “That was his job.” About a year later, he invited him to try out for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He did, and he was accepted.
Around the same time, he got his first big role on TV in a British show called “The Madhouse on Castle Street.” Bob Dylan, an American folk singer who wasn’t very well known at the time, was also in that cast. He would soon become very well known. The show only aired once, in the beginning of 1963, but the film was not kept. One of Mr. Dylan’s first performances of “Blowin’ in the Wind” is said to have been on this album.
In the same year, Mr. Warner got his first big role in the movie “Tom Jones,” where he played a character named Blifil who was, of course, not very appealing. The lead role in the comedy-drama “Morgan!” (1966), in which he played the main character, added to his film credentials.
In the 1960s, Mr. Warner was in the mini-series “The Wars of the Roses.” In the 1970s, he was in “Holocaust.” In the 1980s, he was in “Hold the Back Page.” In the 1990s, he was in “The Choir,” and in the 2000s, he was in “Conviction.” He had recurring parts in a number of TV shows, including “Twin Peaks” in 1991, “Wallander” and “Ripper Street” in this century, and “The Wire” in the 1980s.
The news from his family said that he leaves behind his partner, Lisa Bowerman, and a son, Luke.
The date is July 26, 2022.
In an earlier version of this obituary, the names of two movies in which Mr. Warner played a part were misspelt. They were the movie “The Bofors Gun” from 1968, not “The Borfors Gun,” and the TV miniseries “The Wars of the Roses” from the 1960s, not “The War of the Roses.”