David Warner, Convincing Big-Screen Villain in ‘Time Bandits,’ ‘TRON’ and ‘Time After Time,’ Dies at 80

The busy British actor played everything from Shakespeare and Star Trek to Tom Jones and Tianic in three films directed by Sam Peckinpah.

David Warner, a British actor with classical training who was well known for playing polished villains in films like Time After Time, Time Bandits, TRON, Titanic, and many others, has passed away. He was 80.

According to his relatives, Warner passed away on Sunday at Denville Hall, a London care home for those in the entertainment business.

They claimed that for the previous 18 months, he had dealt with his diagnosis with his usual dignity and elegance. He will be remembered as a kind-hearted, kind, and caring man, partner, and father whose legacy of remarkable work has impacted the lives of so many over the years. He will be much missed by us, his family, and friends. We are devastated.

Warner played Joshua Duncan Sloane, an itinerant preacher, in Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), and the director then called him back to play Henry Niles, a village idiot, in Straw Dogs (1971), and Kiesel, a German lieutenant, in Cross of Iron (1971). (1977).

The human Federation representative St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), the amiable Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), and the Cardassian officer Gul Madred on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1992 are three of the three different species that Warner has portrayed in the Star Trek franchise.

Before making a name for himself as the repulsive Blifil in Tom Jones (1963), which won the Oscar for best picture, the lanky Manchester native studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and appeared in a number of plays directed by Peter Hall at the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was still in its infancy.

He spent nearly three decades away from the stage because of stage anxiety, but he made a comeback in 2001 when he played armaments tycoon Andrew Undershaft in the Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara. As a result, he was given a Theatre World Award.

In addition to playing the tragic photojournalist Keith Jennings in Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976), the eccentric scientist Dr. Alfred Necessiter in Carl Reiner’s The Man With Two Brains (1983), and the ape Senator Sandar in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, the self-effacing Warner also played a variety of other characters (2001).

The fact that he has over 200 acting credits on IMDb shows how rarely he turned down a gig. He once quipped, “I say yes when others say no.” He joked that sometimes he was hired because he was the “cheapest” candidate.

Warner stepped it up a notch for Tron after playing the villainous Jack the Ripper opposite Malcolm McDowell in Nicholas Meyer’s Time After Time (1979) and the character aptly titled Evil in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981), which he said he obtained because Jonathan Pryce was preoccupied elsewhere (1982).

Warner portrayed Ed Dillinger, the cunning senior executive of ENCOM who steals Kevin Flynn’s (Jeff Bridges) work and passes it off as his own, SARK, the evil living programme inside the mainframe, and the voice of the rogue Master Control Program in the ground-breaking Disney picture.

In a 2021 interview, he noted, “It was quite exciting to do it since you know we were all on black sets and with our outfits the way they were.” “It was shot on film, not video, so every frame had to be coloured. It was truly amazing how they put it together. Of course, I had no idea what was happening.

Warner played the ruthless Spicer Lovejoy, the devoted-to-a-fault valet/bodyguard who works for Billy Zane’s businessman Cal Hockley, in James Cameron’s Titanic, 34 years after he was in his first Oscar best picture winner (1997).

In his 2016 book Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, actor Kurt Warner refuted rumours that he was Wes Craven’s first choice to play the evil Freddy Krueger in the original 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street (rather than Robert Englund).

David Hattersley Warner, an only child, was born unmarried on July 29, 1941. He struggled at eight different schools before being admitted into RADA. He was raised separately by his middle-class parents during what he called a “messy” childhood.

In an episode of the David Morrissey podcast Who Am I This Time from August 2021, he claimed, “I became an actor solely to get out of the house.”

His first speaking role on a major motion picture was as the cunning Blifil (the half-brother of Albert Finney’s titular character in Tom Jones) in a 1962 performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Tony Richardson.

Following an audition, he was offered a three-year contract by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and he played King Henry VI in the television adaptation of four Shakespeare plays, The Wars of the Roses, which Hall directed in 1965–1964.

He also appeared in an unexpected role opposite Bob Dylan on a 1963 episode of BBC Sunday-Night Play.

After starring for Hall and the RSC in the critically acclaimed productions of Eh? and Hamlet, in which Glenda Jackson played Ophelia, the 6-foot-2 Warner received praise for his portrayal of a floundering artist who sets out on an irrational quest to prevent his wife (Vanessa Redgrave) from divorcing him in the comedy Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, directed by Karel Reisz (1966).

He was unable to accept offers to move to Hollywood right soon because of his commitment to Stratford and his contract there.

Before Peckinpah desperately wanted him for The Ballad of Cable Hogue, he starred in The Bofors Gun, Work Is a Four Letter Word, John Frankenheimer’s The Fixer, and Sidney Lumet’s The Sea Gull in 1968.

Warner informed his agent that he would have to pass on the movie since he had to cancel his flight due to a panic attack at the last minute. However, Warner was forced to go by Peckinpah’s orders, and arrangements were made for him to take a ship to New York through Barcelona, a train to Los Angeles via Chicago, and a car to a desert outside of Las Vegas.

In 1970, Warner shattered both of his heels after falling from a window in Rome, and he was in risk of never being able to walk again.

“One myth has it that when my wife came, I was in bed with Claudia Cardinale, so I leaped out the window. You are free to use the phrase. There are several defamatory stories concerning alcohol and drugs. Not true, he declared in 1971 to The New York Times.

Despite his wounds, Peckinpah continued to use him in Straw Dogs without giving him any credit.

He gushed, “It was absolutely wonderful for me to go back in front of the camera.” “Peckinpah has a place in my life, if not in my heart. I didn’t want my name to appear in the credits or for anyone to be aware of [my injury] at the time. I might have erred in some way.

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