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Iconic British actor Joss Ackland passes away at 95

Showtime Desk
20 Nov 2023 18:16:24 | Update: 20 Nov 2023 18:16:24
Iconic British actor Joss Ackland passes away at 95
— Collected Photo

Renowned British actor Joss Ackland, celebrated for his formidable portrayals of film villains throughout an illustrious eight-decade career, has passed away at the age of 95, as confirmed by his family.

In a statement, they expressed that Ackland, distinguished for his commanding presence and distinctive voice, peacefully departed at home in the company of loved ones.

Acknowledging him as one of Britain's most cherished and skilled actors, the family emphasized Ackland's memorable roles, with perhaps his most iconic being the corrupt South African diplomat in "Lethal Weapon 2."

Despite diplomatic immunity, his character faced the relentless pursuit of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's determined LA cops.

Ackland's repertoire included a vengeful mafia don in "The Sicilian" and a buttoned-up English aristocrat accused of murder in Kenya in "White Mischief."

Beyond the conventional, he made a cameo as a murderous hitchhiker in the Pet Shop Boys' surreal video for "You Were Always On My Mind."

Standing at 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 meters) and possessing a voice that ranged from grandfatherly reassurance to outright menace, Ackland embraced his diverse roles without feeling typecast.

In a 2001 interview with BBC radio, he expressed his belief that portraying evil was easier than embodying goodness but maintained the importance of subtlety in acting.

Reflecting on his prolific career spanning television, film, stage plays, and musicals, Ackland attributed his success to early struggles as a jobbing actor. Following challenges in the mid-1940s, he and his wife, actress Rosemary, relocated to a tea plantation in Malawi and later South Africa.

Returning to the UK in 1957, he joined London's Old Vic theatre alongside luminaries such as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Tom Courtenay.

Born on February 29, 1928, in North Kensington, west London, Ackland dismissed method acting, preferring to conduct research before filming to enhance credibility. For "The Sicilian," he lived with an aging mafioso for six weeks to gain insights into the life of crime families, believing that thorough preparation rendered the actual acting process more seamless.