The veteran British actor David Warner has died aged 80 from a cancer-related illness. His varied and long lasting career has meant he was a staple of our viewing. He is best known to movie geeks as somebody who played no less than three different characters in three different Star Trek adventures, as well as key roles in The Omen, Tron, Doctor Who and Titanic.

Star Trek VI

Like all longstanding British actors, Warner’s career spanned cinema, television and radio but with a firm foundation on the stage.

He was proclaimed as the greatest Hamlet of his generation on stage, before making the jump to cinema and television. In a statement, Warner’s family said:

“Over the past 18 months he approached his diagnosis with a characteristic grace and dignity … He will be missed hugely by us, his family and friends, and remembered as a kind-hearted, generous and compassionate man, partner and father, whose legacy of extraordinary work has touched the lives of so many over the years. We are heartbroken.”

Warner was born in Manchester, England in 1941 to unmarried parents. His Russian-Jewish father sent him to a succession of boarding schools after his mother disappeared from his life when he was a teenager.


He managed to obtain entry to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. This led to the Royal Shakespeare Company at 21 years old. He was then cast as the lead in Karel Reisz’s critically acclaimed film Morgan, A Suitable Case For Treatment. He then went on to perform the much-lauded portrayal of Hamlet for the RSC in 1965. At first his portrayal was not widely accepted by Shakespeare traditionalists as his portrayal of him as a younger radical horrified them.


It chimed with younger audiences. Warner said:

“When I was a kid and saw Shakespeare, I never heard the actors for all the posturing and declaiming. I thought surely kids today were the same as I was, not wanting Shakespeare shoved down their throats. I wanted to make them come back again, of their own free will.”

Warner often found himself playing villains and appeared in three Sam Peckinpah movies – The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Straw Dogs and Cross of Iron. He also appeared in The Man With Two Brains.

The Omen

Warner moved to Hollywood in 1987, where he lived for 15 years. He was a regular fixture in US television, including an appearance in Twin Peaks. Most recently he played Admiral Boom in the Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns. In 2005 he also returned to the stage, after a 40-year absence, playing King Lear in Chichester.

Horatio Hornblower – Mutiny and Retribution (2001)

Warner passed away at Denville Hall in Northwood, London yesterday, eighteen months after his diagnosis.

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