The Royal Shakespeare Company tweeted earlier Friday that Sher had died of cancer. Sher’s husband Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, has been taking compassionate leave since September to care for him.
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RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon and acting artistic director Erica Whyman hailed Sher’s “hugely celebrated career on stage and screen,” as tributes flooded in for the actor.
“Anthony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues,” said Mallyon and Whyman. “He was a groundbreaking role model for many young actors, and it is impossible to comprehend that he is no longer with us. We will ensure friends far and wide have the chance to share tributes and memories in the days to come.”
Sher had a long association with the RSC and was widely considered to be one of the UK’s finest theater actors, once famously described by Prince Charles as his favourite actor.
Born into a Lithuanian-Jewish family in South Africa in 1949, Sher moved to London in the late 1960s. He held various theater roles throughout the 1970s and became a member of the RSC in 1982, going on to win two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Actor for 1985’s Richard III and 1997’s Stanley, along with being nominated twice more.
He also starred in film and TV projects, playing Dr Moth in Shakespeare In Love for which he won a SAG Award and appearing as UK Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1997’s Mrs. Brown. He most recently featured in the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug as Thráin II.
“I am devastated to hear of the death of Antony Sher. The theatre has lost a brilliant light,” Helen Mirren said. “I will never forget the moment I met the actor in Antony. We were doing the first reading rehearsal of the play Teeth and Smiles by David Hare. Anthony was a comparatively unknown actor at the time. We were buried in our scripts. I read the first words of our scene together and he answered. I raised my eyes above the pages to look at him more precisely as with simply those minimal words I immediately realized I was opposite a great actor. Of course he went on to become the celebrated artist he was, but the extraordinary ability was born in him, as natural to him as breathing: it was as clear as a summer sky.”
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