Beware of the Actor! The Rise and Fall of Nicol Williamson by Martin Dowsing
Nicol Williamson became famous overnight for his performance in John Osborne’s Inadmissible Evidence in 1964 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, going on to gain a reputation as perhaps the best – and most difficult – British actor of his generation and ending the ‘60s with a Hamlet which became as legendary as it was controversial. The following year he was invited to perform at the White House – the first actor ever to receive such an invitation – but Williamson’s spectacular early success was not to last. Despite a number of impressive leading roles, his film career was less successful, although his portrayal of Merlin in Excalibur remains a popular favourite. Later, his appearances dwindled and finally ceased altogether. Nicol Williamson was an incendiary talent who once burned brightly – did he simply burn himself out or were there other reasons for his downfall?
Over the course of 4 years, Martin Dowsing interviewed and corresponded with more than 50 people who knew Williamson, including many of his colleagues, his family and his closest friends. The author was also granted exclusive access to an unbroadcast 4-hour career-spanning interview with Williamson filmed in 2005.
This book reveals how Williamson’s bizarre career path was shaped by his unique outlook on life, his enormous personality and his own personal demons.
The book includes an afterword by Nicol's son, Luke Williamson. Other contributors to the book include his first wife, Jill Townsend; actors Elaine Bromka, Michael Culver, Penny Fuller, Ian Hogg, Glenda Jackson, Jane Lapotaire, Paul Moriarty, Steffan Rhodri, Clive Swift and David Warner; directors Robert Bierman, the late Jack Gold, Piers Haggard, Terry Hands, Robert Knights, Richard Lester, Peter Levin, Walter Murch, John Tydeman; Tony Garnett, Nicholas Meyer and many more.