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Remembering Nicol Williamson

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He had a gargantuan talent. As a young actor, his performances in Waiting For Godot, Inadmissible Evidence, and Hamlet, were inspirational. I was a student at LAMDA when I first had the privilege of seeing him, and I was blown away.

His presence and his intensity were palpable. But it was the power of his imagination and his unpredictability that left audiences breathless. Nicol's gifts, however, were often accompanied by an irascible temperament that too often prevented his extraordinary artistry from reaching the multitudes.

Ironically, I was the lucky benefactor of a Nicol tantrum in the late '70s.

William Peter Blatty had cast him as Killer Kane in The Ninth Configuration (also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane), and the film was being shot in Budapest, Hungary. Nicol was staying at the Budapest Hilton, and was allegedly trying to make an international phone call when, presumably, something the operator did or said infuriated him, causing him to rip the phone out of the wall and toss it through the plate-glass window of his suite. Nicol was fired, and I was hired to play the role. It was a great part, and I often reflected on how Nicol would have played certain moments during the filming. I have no doubts that he would have been brilliant, as he always was. We became friends for a time, and I loved his company. He was an also a gifted musician, played a great jazz piano, and could sing. He was a man of many gifts, a personal inspiration, and I am grateful for having had the pleasure of his company. My sincere condolences to his family, and may the light of his talent continue to blaze through the heavens like the comet that he was.

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