To the fans of Nicol.

Posted in Personal Message at 5:36 am by Luke

It’s with great sadness, and yet with a heart full of pride and love for a man who was a tremendous father, friend, actor, poet, writer and singer, that I must bring news of Nicol’s passing. Dad died peacefully in the early hours of the 16th of December after a two year all out, balls to the wall struggle against esophageal cancer. He gave it all he had: never gave up, never complained, maintained his wicked sense of humor to the end. His last words were ‘I love you’. I was with him, he was not alone, he was not in pain.

He leaves behind him an immense body of work: movies, stage performances, music, book narration, poetry and prose. When you saw “Jack, A Night On The Town With John Barrymore” you realised as he sang Nessun Dorma that this man could have been anything, done anything, and been one of the best. The mould is broken, we will never see his like again in the world.

He was the most honest, funny and intelligent man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing; he was my father and words cannot adequately express how proud I am of him. Before he died Nicol was able to finish the CD he had been working on, albeit slightly shorter than it might have been. In the coming month i hope to have it up here on his website.

If anyone would like to express their love or appreciation of Nicol, I would ask them to make a donation in his name -however small- to a charity for children suffering from cancer or other life threatening illnesses.

Nicol was a very private man, he didn’t want people to know that he was ill, he was hoping very much to come out the other side of his battle with “Seamus the Squamous” and bring some awareness to the plight of children suffering from the horrors of cancer in all its various forms.

Dad will live in the memory of all those who knew him, all those who were affected by a performance of his they saw, and all those he made laugh until they couldn’t breathe.

I love you Dad. Good game, sir, good game.


  1. Barry Lynch said,

    January 25, 2012 at 9:28 am

    RIP. Great, unique actor. Inadmissible Evidence, The Bofors Gun, The Reckoning and of course the Roundhouse Hamlet will stand the test of time – if ever the first three get released on DVD.

  2. simon said,

    January 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

    i liked your pa’s work very much and had no idea he had such a great love of music and his voice was rich and lived in, which certainly appeals to me. I was a bad child actor and now i chose music, have done for year.
    so thanks for his great acting, and the music.

    simon fisher turner

  3. Philip L said,

    January 25, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Mr. Williamson will be greatly missed. It is good to know that he died peacefully and surrounded by those he loved. Mr. Williamson was one of those that made acting an admirable profession. My prayers for the loved ones her leaves behind.

  4. Graham said,

    January 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    Your Dad will be be much missed, but fondly remembered, and his work will continue to bring much pleasure.

    May he Rest In Peace.

  5. Joseph Jamfrey said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I cannot express, from my full vocabulary, how sorry I am to hear this news. Cancer has played a large role in my life recently, as my father was diagnosed nine months ago. Nicol has been, for many years now, and still is, my greatest inspiration. It was he who ignited my passion for acting and theatre, and I am very proud to say that he changed the course of my life. Although he was not very well known amongst my younger generation, I assure you that the legacy that he has left behind will be safe with me, for as long as I live. I will be donating to the charity, and I wish there was some other way to offer you support or express my full opinion of a truly remarkable man.

    God bless you
    Joseph Jamfrey

  6. Martin Walker said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

    RIP on the passing of your Dad. It was a wonderful eulogy you wrote.

    I am afraid I dont know his full body of work, but he was, hands down, the best ever Merlin in the best ever King Arthur film.

    My condolences to your family.

  7. Shirley Gans said,

    January 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    God rest his soul!

  8. Richard Boon said,

    January 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Whenever I think of him, I think not just of his talent as a performer but of his integrity. A man who enshrined the best values of his profession. Best wishes to the family, and thank you Mr Williamson.

  9. Joke said,

    January 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    The best Merlin ever.

    Merlin: Do nothing. Be still. Sleep. Rest in the arms of the Dragon. Dream

    May he rest in peace

    And Luke, My heart is reaching out to you

  10. Sophie James said,

    January 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I was saddened to hear the news of Nicol’s death. I knew him professionally when he was
    represented by Dick Blodget (Otis S.Blodget) of ICM and he always kept us on our toes! I also
    remember delightful conversations with his father when we were trying to track him down –
    forever elusive!
    A large character with a huge talent and I always enjoyed his visits to the office. Somewhere I have a LP (shows my age) of his music which I must
    dig out and try and find a machine that will play it. That lovely rich commanding voice.,

  11. Lynsey Ford said,

    January 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I wish to extend my deepest sympathies at Nicol’s passing to yourself, Luke and all family members. He leaves behind a rich legacy of work on stage, television and film. RIP.

  12. Jason said,

    January 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Your father was a great man. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.

    Rest in Peace Nicol. Your spirit and talent will be missed.

  13. Sue said,

    January 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    My late husband, Martin Matthews, had a fund of stories about Nick. I think they may have shared a flat about a million years ago when they were both starting out.
    I wrote him the only fan letter I’ve ever written after seeing him at The Aldwych in about 1967.

  14. Jon R. said,

    January 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Terribly saddened to hear of your father’s passing Luke. Fondly remembering the first time I saw Nicol in action, in John Boorman’s classic “Excalibur”. Of course, such a diverse performer he was capable of stage, screen and music. The world is a poorer place. RIP.

  15. Shawn Fitzgerald said,

    January 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    My condolences on your loss. The first performance I saw of your father’s was Merlin in John Boorman’s “Excalibur”. Many have played the iconic character before and after the 1981 film, but no one even came close to making the impression Nicol did.

    Rest in Peace, sir. And thanks.

  16. Luftmensch said,

    January 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Dear Luke,

    So very sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my own father a little over a year ago and it’s hard not to be able to talk to him and hear his unique perspective on life. Your dad will absolutely live in our memories. For those of us not privileged to know him personally, who knew him through his work, he will always be as alive and vital as ever. I did see him as Barrymore and also loved his performances in Excalibur and The Seven-Percent Solution. My very favorite is his reading of The Hobbit, which is part of my mental furniture. I also, long ago, had a recording of him performing Sweeney Agonistes with Cleo Laine on an album of a memorial service for T.S. Eliot. I so wish I could find a copy of that again, their performance was AMAZING. I loved Ken Tynan’s profile of him. It wasn’t airbrushed, but it painted a portrait of a stunningly talented artist who was his own man, always. May he rest in peace and may you find joy in your loving memories of him.

  17. Charles Roden said,

    January 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Luke –
    My sympathies to you and your mom on the loss of Nicol. He was a pleasure to work with and always interesting if not fun to be around. We shared many serious conversations, with and without wine, and he was always thoughtful of the people he worked with, especially the musicians. I know he loved you and Jill very much and took great pride in his son. Be well and happy.

  18. Jonathan Tafler said,

    January 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your father was a wonderful and unique actor and I thought your tribute to him was beautiful. Fortunate as you are to have had him for a father, he must have had great joy in you as a son. My Dad was an actor and I identify strongly. thinking of you in your loss xx

  19. David Boyle said,

    January 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    “My days are ended.”
    “…Will I see you again?”
    “There are other worlds…This one is done with me.”

    “Are you just a dream?”
    “You brought me back. Your love brought me back.”

    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KveOVJWy3Ww&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE9fN89Jc0Y&feature=related )

    RIP NW.

  20. Mark M. said,

    January 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Nicol is one of the greatest ever! My condolences to his family and friends.

    Merlin will always live with us in the land of dreams.

    “A dream, to some … a nightmare to others!”

    RIP Nicol!

  21. Stella Rodrigues said,

    January 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I am very sad to learn about your father’s passing. He was a phenomenal actor and a great singer. His performance as ” Hamlet ” triggered my immense love for Shakespeare’s plays and I will be forever grateful to him for that.
    A donation will be made on his name. It is a cause I have been supporting for many years.
    I wish I could find the right words but I know there are none. Only time…

  22. Alexa said,

    January 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Gone but never forgotten. Nicol was larger than life and lives on in the hearts of so many. I will love him forever!

  23. Nic Melone said,

    January 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Hey Luke,

    Sorry for the loss of your father. He was a very fascinating and wonderful actor, and it’s hard anytime you lose family. I hope you remember me from our ITT days. Anyways, hit me up sometime if you’d like and please accept my sincerest condolences.

    Take Care,

    Nic M

  24. Ron Fassler said,

    January 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    In 1969 I was a 12 year old theatre enthusiast and I attended your dad’s Broadway production of HAMLET one Saturday afternoon. It was the first Shakespeare I had ever seen. I went all by myself. When the show was over i rushed to the stage door and asked to meet Mr. Williamson. The gruff doorman told me to wait. After about ten minutes the size of the entourage grew to a great number of people. Finally, the stage door opened and the doorman pointed at me and said, “you.” I was then directed to his dressing room and knocked on the door. He welcomed me and asked where my parents were. I told him I was all alone — that I couldn’t get anyone to see the show with me — which was the truth. I think he enjoyed that. He asked me if I understood the play. i told him I thought I did, but I had one question. “When you saw the ghost was that real? Or was that in your mind?” He paused, lit a cigarette and said, “I think I’ll leave that to your imagination.” He signed my program. I still have it. And he couldn’t have been more gracious and charming. It was 41years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. He was very kind to a young actor and a connection was made. I cherish the memory. RIP.

  25. Susan said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss – and I only hope that it helps to bear it that it is not solely your loss: anyone who has ever seen/heard your father perform has suffered a loss. Many people speak of his Merlin, which was, of course, very fine, but my favorite performance of his was as Sherlock Holmes in “The Seven Percent Solution”. Accept our condolences and try to think of the fact that your father’s talent will ensure that he lives forever.

  26. Brian A. Kirkland said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I remember seeing Mr. Williamson in Of Mice and Men, in 1968, on tv. I was ten and it was one of the most moving performances I’ve ever seen. He was a wonderful Lennie. From then on, I would make it my business to watch any movie that he was cast in.

  27. Dave Boyce said,

    January 26, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Deeply sad to hear this. Around fifteen years ago my partner and I moved to Amsterdam, and met Nicol in our/his local pub one night. We recognised him, introduced ourselves, and over the next year or so we met him there regularly, and occasionally wandered round to his marvellous house once the bar had closed.

    Your father was a remarkable man, hugely entertaining, and I deeply regret that we lost touch. For some reason I’d been thinking about him the last couple of weeks, and now this.

    My condolences to you and your family.

  28. Alasdair said,

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Dear Luke

    I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. Your father was an inspirational man, and an utterly electric performer. His work continues to mean a lot to me. His legacy will be a long and healthy one.
    Thank you.

  29. Daniel Baxter said,

    January 26, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Very sad to hear this – first became aware of him when I saw The Bofor’s Gun on TV a number of years a go. Never been able to see it since but it has stuck with me ever since. Would be great if this sad event meant that it and Inadmissible Evidence were made available on DVD in the UK. RIP.

  30. Peter Lushing said,

    January 26, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Out of the blue last week I fished out my DVD of “Inadmissible Evidence” (1968), last seen by me during its American release four decades ago, and of course enjoyed the performance more than ever, given the enhancement of my faculties by my own experiences. So an awful coincidence to see in the NY Times this morning that the great actor is gone, struck down by the same disease that took Christopher Hitchens a few weeks ago. They say Mr. Williamson was quite temperamental — which is just another way of saying he was a Great Man.

  31. John said,

    January 26, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Wonderful in Excalibur as Merlin, my favourite character in the film, full of humour and gentleness. Rest in peace.
    John, Cheltenham, England.

  32. David said,

    January 26, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I will never forget seeing Mr. Williamson’s performance in the film ‘The Reckoning’ over 40
    years ago. It stayed with me to this day. My condolences to his family.

  33. Ray Dooley said,

    January 26, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Luke– Very sorry to hear of Nicol’s passing. As a young actor I worked with your father in Macbeth in New York and in The Lark in Edmonton. We were friends for a time (early-mid 1980s) and he was a tremendous influence on my own work. No one was better with Shakespeare text. I will always cherish his kindness and his passion for the work.

  34. Sam Dalladay said,

    January 26, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Just read on the BBC website that that your dad passed away and my condolences to you and your family. I know, and have seen a lot of his work over the years, of which he was exceptional and brought life, and I like to think, a lot of his own personality to his part (always had a twinkle of mischief about him).

    However I remember him most fondly for his voice on a tape cassette I owned as a small boy and it was him telling the story of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. At the time I owned many word books however this one was by far my favourite and that is mostly thanks to your dad and the way he could give a different voice to all of the characters in the story (my particular favourite being Smaug the Dragon). This cassette went everywhere with me and was a companion on very long car journeys. Because he was so fantastic I of course, as I grew older, saw his name in other films/dramas/plays and had to see or read about it (of which I could go on and on, but you know all of this).

    I am sorry it has taken his passing for me to say a thank you for making me smile and enjoy long car journeys (my parents also owe him a thank you too as I never had to pester them with “are we nearly there yet” because for me the longer the journey the better) but I still own that cassette as it is so dear to me – THANK YOU NICOL WILLIAMSON!!

  35. Steve A said,

    January 26, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I’ve just read the sad news of Mr Williamson’s passing on the BBC website. I first became aware of his work in the film Excalibur in the mid-1980’s and the fantastic way he played Merlin made such an impression on me, the film and Nicol remained a firm favourite for the rest of my life.
    Oddly enough, I thought about watching Excalibur again last night (before I read about the news today), I think I shall find the film and toast Merlin and the Dragon, with a fine malt whisky.

    My sincere condolences to you and your family, RIP Nicol Williamson.

  36. Allan Wasserman said,

    January 26, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Your Dad was a regular at the weightlifitng room at The McBurney Y when appearing at The Roundabout Theatre in NYC in the 70’s.
    Most of the off duty cops and firemen and longshoremen that I worked out with there had no idea who he was.
    When we explained who he was—they just shrugged non-plussed—he was tall and pale and looked like one of them—they could not buy that he was an actor—one guy I knew who was a local bus driver said that he thought your Dad looked like an out of work construction worker.
    LOL!!! I bet NW would have loved to hear that!!
    Condolences and RIP!!

  37. DG said,

    January 26, 2012 at 10:28 am

    The impression that he made on me in Excalibur is as strong today as it was as a young lad when I first saw it. He has a great legacy to leave behind and for that he should be pleased.


  38. Henry F. Mazel said,

    January 26, 2012 at 11:36 am


    I knew your father for many years, and I’m deeply saddened by his passing. We worked together on my script, Favoring Harry Gold, and I was with him for rehearsals of ‘I Hate Hamlet.’ I’m wondering, too, about Aaron Schector, who valued Nicol’s talent so much. Is he still around? Nicol introduced me to Robby Lance, who later, however so briefly, became my agent.

    I wish Nicol G-d’s speed and grace. He was the most talented person I’ve ever known. Hope you do get this message and feel comfortable enough to respond at my e-mail address.

    The best to you and the family.


  39. Evan Knudsen said,

    January 26, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

    Til the last syllable of recorded time.

    And all our yesterdays light fools the way to dusty death.

    Out, out, brief candle, life is but a walking shadow,

    A poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage

    Then is heard no more.

    It is a tale told by an idiot,

    Full of sound and fury,

    Signifying nothing. —- I shall miss your father, sir.

  40. Brian Cox said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Nicol was the first ‘live’ actor I ever met. Actually it was more of an invasion than a meeting. It was 1961 I was fifteen years old. I was on my way to my first ever job interview at the Dundee Repertory Theatre in( aptly enough) Nichol Street. The lady in the box office told me that I had to enter the theatre from the Stage Door in Rattray Street. As I mounted the narrow staircase to the main stage and auditorium. I became aware of some kind fracas going on on the landing above. I would have to cross this landing to get to where my meeting would be taking place. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a fist fight between a rather effete red-faced bow -tied individual and a tall lean ‘viking’ blond. The language was the last thing I expected to hear in a such auspicious setting more in tune with the streets where I grew up. I immediately recognized the ‘ Viking’ as the actor who I had seen the week before at a schools matinee, of ‘Love from a Stranger” giving, even to this day, the scariest performance ever. But even more scary and impressive was the way this actor quelled a rather rowdy audience of schoolkids by walking to the front of the stage and saying in the deadliest and quietest voice imaginable. “When yoooouu have all feeeenished….. I will continue… But.. not..
    not…unteel ..then. And he stood there and waited ..and waited. Until the noise in the auditorium diminished to nothing. From that point on, you could have heard a pin drop.
    And here before me, besting the brawl, was the very same actor. As I emerged out from under the brawl. I was greeted by another thespian who was exceedingly amused at my bewildered and slightly terrified expression. “it’s alright darling. They’re just a little over-excited a night on the ‘bevy” and no sleep. Not too worry” This was the Actor Gawn Grainger. And that was my introduction to Nicol.
    Oh, and I got the job! so for the next six months before Nicol left Dundee Rep. I was privileged to watch one of our greatest actors the most formative, and versatile period of his working life. A truly remarkable range of performances. Konstantin (Duncan Stewart) in a Sots version of ‘The Seagull’.Clive in Peter Shaffers “Five Finger Exercise’ Peter Cloag in ‘Marigold’ and Jack Manningham in the victorian melodrama ‘Gaslight’. Nicol was exemplary in every role he played. Showing an astonishing range well beyond his years. He for me more than any actor of that generation set ‘the bar’ of standard to be achieved as an actor. But also I will always remember his kindness and consideration towards me in my inaugural years at Dundee. for that I am eternally grateful
    So thank you Nicol ….and as you say Luke. We will never see his like again. RIP!

  41. Carol & Rob Alexander said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Dear Luke….a huge loss and our sympathy to you and all of the family and friends. Your Dad and my husband Rob were in the army together as young men and became quite good friends. Rob played guitar and he and your Dad used to “entertain” at local pubs and made quite the team. Rob has never forgotten him and always followed his career with great interest and always admired his tremendous ability as an actor. Rob had a tear and felt quite the loss when he heard about Nicol’s passing this morning. Many wonderful memories and stories will live on in our family of the “Rob & Nicol army escapades”. Our love to him and to all of you. Carol & Rob

  42. Charlotte Elizabeta Cochran said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Today I am shocked and saddened upon finally learning of this wonderful talented man’s passing. It was because of my own late dear dad that I came to know his work. It makes my heart sing to know he liked the role of Merlin, because HE was the reason I kept going to see that film, at the cinema, over & over. He will be so missed and my thoughts are truly with his son at this very harsh time. He was so loved.

  43. Dale Latimer said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Deeply saddened to hear the news, my heart goes out to you and your family at this sad time. Your father was a legend in his own lifetime, something few can claim or even aspire to. A wonderful actor and a mesmerising personality, I thoroughly enjoyed every performance I was fortunate enough to witness. A very sad loss, a truly great man.

  44. Simon link said,

    January 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    So sorry to hear of the passing of your father luke. Understandably you are incredibly proud of him and
    I am sure he would be proud of a son who has written such a wonderfully touching eulogy.I have to admit I am not familiar with your dads broader work but must say his performance as merlin had me entranced and enthralled as a 10 year old watching Excalibur, a film that I repeatedly watched on my Betamax video player !. RIP the definitive merlin.

  45. frank corrado said,

    January 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Dear Mr. Williamson,
    I am deeply saddened to learn of your extraordinary father’s death. When I was a college student, I first encountered his work on stage in the New York production of Inadmissible Evidence and a few years later, in Boston, as the greatest Hamlet I ever hope to see, a performance full of wit, noble anger, grace and compelling imagination–also as beautifully spoken as can be imagined. The only voice to rival his on stage in my experience was Burton’s, also in Hamlet in New York in 1964. If Burton’s voice was an organ, your father’s was a trumpet with overtones of the richest clarinet. During his Boston Hamlet, in the midst of the “What a piece of work is a man” speech, he reached down and picked up a scrap of paper that had somehow deposited itself on the stage, and without missing a beat of text, and somehow in total character, drop-kicked the random scrap into the front row. It was a curiously sublime moment. As for his film work, his Little John in Robin and Marion, so sweet and sincere yet so capable of the most sudden and deadly violence, is for me the film’s greatest virtue; it’s a performance that will haunt me always. But then, so will everything I had the privilege of seeing him do. I must also say that your loving reflections about your father do both of you great credit. Clearly, you have inherited much from him of which to be proud.

    Best of good luck to you in the days ahead,

    Frank Corrado

  46. Sally Dietzler said,

    January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Nicol was so special …. a bigger than life character in his personal life as well as on stage.
    In the 80’s my husband and young son and I spent wonderful visits with Nicol in Amsterdam …cafes, antique shops…. the old fashion record player. He had soooo much energy.
    I was fortunate to see Nicol in New York in Hamlet and was proud to have met Merlin in person.
    All of us send our love and share your sense of loss, Luke. As you noted, he was a very special soul and we shall not see the likes of him again, but his energy and spirit will continue in the hearts of the many that knew and loved him.
    Sally Dietzler (on behalf of sons Matthew and Philip Croft)

  47. Sandra Densmore said,

    January 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Dear Luke,
    It is with sadness that I learned of your father’s passing. I started to follow his career in the 70’s, and was fortunate enough to catch his “Uncle Vanya” on Broadway, and after his performance there, his one-man late night show which was magical.

    I am so very sorry for your loss, and all of ours, really. But trust you will be reunited with him in “that great gettin’ up morning.”

    Thank you for this wonderfully rich website.


  48. Mark said,

    January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    My condolences on this great loss, none greater than your own. Clearly a true individual whose presence was felt widely and deeply…………and will continue to be. Ni fhacaimid a leitheid …..

  49. bob said,

    January 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I saw him first in rep. in Dundee – even then, quite a presence! Followed his career – he was astonishing. I am grateful that I will still be able to enjoy his talent on film.
    Deepest sympathy.

  50. Chris Mayer said,

    January 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    The world is a smaller place now. Heartfelt condolences to you and to all the family, and with deepest gratitude for a life’s work that enriched and elevated the lives of all who saw him perform. Rest in peace.

  51. Film Academy said,

    January 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm


    We just read a blog about your dad’s passing which led to our visit to this website.

    Our condolences go out to you and your family.

    Film Academy

  52. Daniel Benzali said,

    January 27, 2012 at 2:22 am

    As a young actor in New York, I saw your father’s performance as Bill Maitland in “Inadmissible Evidence” on Broadway. Many years later, when I played Ted Hoffman in the television series “Murder One”, I still remembered your father’s magnificent performance, and it was a great inspiration to me. His work in John Osborne’s play remains to this day one of the very greatest theatre experiences of my life. My condolences to you and your family.

  53. Patrick Salvadori said,

    January 27, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Dear Luke, Your dad was one of the greatest actors I had the privilege of seeing live on stage. I first saw him in two films when I was a student in Dublin (The Bofors Gun & The Reckoning), and I vowed to myself that I would go and see him live when I emigrated to England. I managed to see him as Malvolio at the RSC and I have always referred to that as the best performance of the character that I have ever seen. He captured the humour, the pathos and the vitriolic bitterness of the character magnificently and throughout the production I found his presence and ‘absence’ from the stage riveting. What an actor! Occasionally, during the past few years, I have looked up the web to see what happened to him and it has greatly saddened me that he had great difficulty coming to terms with his inner demons. I have been buoyed the fact that he gave so generously to children suffering from cancer through his concerts and singing. How wonderful to hear you sing his praises as your father! You have a great father to be proud of. I was truly filled with sadness when I bought the Guardian this morning and read of his death. “The rest is silence.”

  54. Dave Moffat said,

    January 27, 2012 at 3:46 am

    I was saddened to hear of your loss. Your dad, as others have said, was an excellent actor. I’ve only seen four of his films – Robin & Marian, Return to Oz, Excalibur and The Reckoning – and in all four he is outstanding.

    My friends will raise a toast to his work and ability at our next film night where we will be watching at least three of the above movies.

    Your eulogy was also very moving.

  55. James Paterson said,

    January 27, 2012 at 4:55 am


    A remarkable eulogy for a remarkable man. Thank you Nicol for those stunning performances that seared themselves to the memory.

    I was born in Beckford Lodge in Hamilton. Sadly it took me to read your Dad’s obituary to find a thin but common connection.

    Truly sorry for your loss Luke. Your fathers inspiration will undoubtedly live on.

    James Paterson

  56. Philip Sewell said,

    January 27, 2012 at 6:21 am


    Condolences to you after hearing the news. I’ll always remember your father for Arturo Ui – simply mesmerising.


  57. Deborah Phillips said,

    January 27, 2012 at 7:08 am

    So commanding, so mesmerizing, such a wonderful mixture of danger, benevolence & wit in his characters….much much too young to leave us. I have shed some tears. Few actors have moved me so much.

    Loss is a very deep void, but we all survive on the wonderful memories. Bless you and your family. Deborah Phillips

  58. M. BURKE WALKER said,

    January 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Nicol Williamson, at his best, was one of the most riveting actors of his age. I had the great good fourtune to catch his INADMISSABLE EVIDENCE on Broadway, a searing portrait. On film he leaves a powrful and challenging legacy, in particular the HAMLET, SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, and, my personal favorite, the darkest film ever shot in southern France, LAUGHTER IN THE DARK, a deeply tormented film.

    It seems he was at peace with life and with his courageous struggle with cancer.
    Travel safely, good sir, we mourn and miss you.

  59. Mick said,

    January 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    My deepest sympathy. This magical man; Remember always his artistry, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

  60. Tara Hugo said,

    January 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Dear Luke – we met years ago in London, and I remember Nicol talking about you a lot, and always getting a sense of how much he loved you. I was happy to hear you were there with him at the end. He had you. There were so many people that cared about him and that were in awe of his talent. How I wish I could have met up with Nicol once more. We used to meet up regularly every year and I liked his company. I got to visit him once in Amsterdam so I can picture the house. I tried to contact him a couple of years ago. So sad to know it is not possible now. He was the most brilliant actor that ever walked a stage. He had it all. Presence, power, an ability to be as real as real can be, always taking risks, knowing he had that power and knowing in a piece of theatre when to use it or subdue it, through words that he made come alive. I will never forget watching for the first time, Nicol as MacBeth in the scene with the two murderers. It was in a rehearsal room in New York. It was powerful … thrilling. And all done without a trace of acting — filmic but true theatre in the best sense. He was MacBeth in those moments and the words were said as if for the first time, as if they came from his own thoughts and guts. And every thought was understood and heard as if you were hearing the words for the first time, no matter you had seen or read MacBeth many times. What passion! He would repeat that every night on the stage. And as an actor playing opposite him, all one had to do was be there on stage and let the scene play. I felt privileged because I knew it was rare. And he had that voice and incredible stature. I am sorry to have not seen him in the last years. I had a lot of love for Nicol. And he is often in my thoughts. If there is a memorial, I would love to come. Please let me know. I’m very sad and will miss him. He had an impact on my life. I will look out for the CD, let me know. Much love to you.

  61. John Anson said,

    January 28, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Sui generis…Latin for “of it’s own kind” or “unique”…a fitting eulogy for a man of so many extraordinary facets. Beyond his multitude of talents…his personal generosity is sometimes over-looked. He was simply…a man’s, man.

  62. Mark Lugton said,

    January 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    20 odd years ago I was fresh down from edinburgh and I went to a Chinese restaurant in Battersea and your dad was sitting there enjoying his meal. I remember as I was leaving I said to him a very prentencious way ” am sorry to bother you but I just wanted to say that I loved your work” I’ve often thought about that and consider myself very fortunate that he didn’t tell me to bugger off and for that I have always been grateful. He was a wonderful actor and I was very sad to hear of his passing.

  63. peter a murray said,

    January 29, 2012 at 5:46 am

    i think i did my national service with big nick williamson the ration storeman.if it was him we were in 33rd para reg. royal artillery.He was just known as big nick a 6 ft 4 friendly chap. The dates were 1957 to1959. i was sorry never to meet him again and to hear of his death.

  64. ANITA BROWN said,

    January 29, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Luke , I had the pleasure of being a student at Drama school with Nick (as we knew him then) . We loved laughted and worked together sometimes, and I knew he was special. Unfortunately the last time i spent time with him was just after his performance of Corialanous in London. And although I hadn’t seen him for some time it was just like yesterday, as they say. Wonderful wicked humour, a brilliant actor and a real gent of the theatre, without the bullshit.
    You are so lucky being his son
    Take care.

  65. Alexandra Kalogera said,

    January 30, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Dear Luke,
    I met Nicol in Greece, as a client, but came to know him and love him as a close friend. We had long long talks, mostly over the telephone, about his plans, his problems, his complaints, his joys. And he loved you so much. Your both were blessed and lucky, you to have him as a father, and he to have you as a son.

  66. john dunn said,

    January 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

    when in amsterdam i met your father,did some work for him at his house on the Singel ,we had a good friendship for 5 or 6 years .Then he moved to Rhodes .I never saw him again. A scotish compatriot that i got on well with and he will never be forgotten, not as an actor but as a friend.

  67. Sarah Nolte said,

    February 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Dear Luke,

    I was recently told of the sad news of your father’s passing. I worked with Nicol on and off, for many years, finally as his assistant (hair, make-up, costume and more) on “A Night on the Town with John Barrymore”. We stayed in touch for a few years, I think the last time I saw him was when I was at the RNT and we met for coffee. He was very special to me but as so often happens in this business, we lost touch. People were often critical of him, but these people were either jealous of his unreachable talent or they were too small to understand what that meant. From conversations with him during the half I know he was as proud to have you as his son, as any man could be and respected you totally, which was why on the second night of ‘Jack’ when he cut short the performance, you were the only person who could be with him. That spoke volumes to me.

    He leaves a crater in everyone’s heart who new him, not least mine. As long as this business insists on using ‘safe’ actor’s (competent and sometimes affecting as they are), we shall not see his like again.

    Take care of yourself and if there is to be a memorial let me know.

  68. AnthonyAttard said,

    February 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Dear Luke,

    Nicol’s death has affected me most deeply. I was there for the first night of ‘Jack’ (1994). The Times (31 Jan 2012) published my own tribute to him, but it was Bernard Levin who ranked your father’s performance as one the greatest he had ever seen. It was the greatest I had ever seen on stage!

    I also saw his awesome ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Coriolanus.’ and when he revived, ‘Inadmissable Evidence’ and had grown even more majestically into the role of Bill Maitland.

    I saw his ‘Midwinter Spring’ one-man shows at the Aldwych and Queens Theatres

    Nicol’s powerful mesmering screen performance in ‘The Reckoning’ Directed by Jack Gold remains, for me, the best British film of that period – they really should issue it on DVD.

    Nicol’s performances were the best I have ever seen by a British actor on stage and screen. He was, beyond doubt, the greatest British actor I ever saw! A blazing powerhouse of an actor. In this modern age of theatre and cinema, I will certainly not see his like again.

    I mourn, with you, his passing.

    Anthony Attard

  69. Dorian Leveque said,

    February 9, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Dear Luke,

    I was so sorry to hear of the loss of your father.

    Back in 1986 or 1987 I saw the film of Inadmissible Evidence on the TV. It made a tremendous impression on me and although I was only 18 or 19 and had no discernible similarity either in character or experience to Bill Maitland I felt deeply moved by your father’s portrayal of this flawed (aren’t we all), but despairing and anguished man. I suppose Maitland was somebody who had reached saturation point with everything and although only in my youth I kind of felt the same way. To see such pain mirrored can be a kind of release and so it was for me. That was just one aspect of your father’s many gifts as an actor, but it is that ability to find the person within and show us it in all its complexity that is something that only the greatest actors can achieve. I think your father’s words express it best:

    “I can understand people’s pain, passion, fear, hurt, and I can mirror it and set it up for them to look at”

    In subsequent years I have had the privilege of seeing other marvellous film and TV performances by Nicol – The Reckoning, The Bofors Gun, Horror of Darkness, Excalibur, Laughter in the Dark, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (via this website) – and in 1994 I saw him as John Barrymore in Jack: A Night on the Town at the Criterion Theatre. It is a performance I will never forget and displayed not only the qualities mentioned above but also his excellent singing voice and flair for comedy and impersonation. He truly was an artist – but there are artists and there are great artists and the latter is what your father was.

    I am glad that his death was peaceful and that you were with him.

    I didn’t know your father personally, but I wish I had done.

    My thoughts are with you.

    Dorian Leveque

  70. Susan Yonge said,

    February 11, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Very sad to hear Nicol has taken his final exit. Our sympathies are with you and your family. We were unexpectedly taken to your father’s beautiful house in Lindos by a mutual friend and he made us very welcome. He had me in awe with his songs and fantastic presence which rendered me speechless. He asked me “Why are you wearing that ridiculous hat?” The hat was a joke but I was too in awe to string two sentences together. That says what an impressive orator he was and it was a pleasure to have known him and hear his tales. My partner met him a couple more times and my biggest regret is that we never made time to go back and have that drink with him in his favorite bar. He must leave a huge void in your lives and very much so on the world stage. He lives on in his music and poetry and the memories of all those that ever had the honour of seeing him at work and play. Susan(Mad Hat Woman) Yonge & Ken Hall. Haraki. Rhodes

  71. Cheryl Bunton said,

    February 13, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Dear Luke

    So sad to hear about Nicol.

    I didn’t know your Dad very long, I worked with him on “Jack”, but the short time I spent with him is filled with life long memories.

    The trips to the recording studio to record not only some sound for the show but also for his own jazz collection (I still have the tape). The best First Night party (unpretentious) when we never left the Theatre and he sang and entertained us all. The beautiful bouquet of yellow roses he left at Stage Door for me on my Birthday. The honour he gave by coming to a summer party I was having and “captained” the winning cricket team on Kew Green!!!! Also his wicked sense of humour, when after returning home from the party he rang, posing as a neighbour, demanding that the noise be kept down!!
    A year later I called in to see him when he played “Inn on the Park”. That evening I was ushered to a table right at the front where he preceeded to sing to me with that mischievious twinkle in his eye.

    He was in no doubt out on his own as one of our finest actors but above all I found him to be one of the finest people I have ever met.

    Today has filled me with mixed emotions. More sadness than I thought but also a smile and warmth. God Bless Nicol.

    Sincerest condolences to you and your Mum and to all who were fortunate enough to share a piece of his time.


  72. Emily said,

    February 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I was very saddened to see Nicol in the tribute segment of the BAFTAs; I am so sorry for your loss, and also selfishly disappointed that I will never get to meet my favorite actor.

    Deepest sympathy,

  73. george kling said,

    February 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    For me? Only Scofield belonged in the same room with him. A great, a phenom. . . .

  74. Joe Orton said,

    February 15, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Dear Luke
    Thanks for giving us a space to say a few words about your Dad.
    I’m really glad he’s found peace from the attentions of “Seamus”.
    but I can’t imagine his spirit resting in peace. He’s still got too much to say about self expression, dark humour and integrity to future generations.
    .The Internet Movie Database biographer John C Hopwood in his mini-bio says that:
    “Williamson has joined the ranks of Barrymore, Burton, and Brando, in that they have become phantoms who haunt the theater and film that they they served so admirably on the one hand but failed on the other. All enormously gifted artists, perhaps possessed of genius, they were discombobulated by that gift that became their curse, the burden of dreams — the dreams of their audiences, their collaborators, their critics.”
    If that statement is true it don’t mean a peaceful eternity strumming a harp upon a cloud – but fierce debate among the student body!
    Now that he has crossed over to the immortality of history he can join those those other legendary loose cannon of the 60s and Chalk Farm Road, such as Ken Campbell, and Withnail and I.
    In my mind’s eye, although far away now from my own 60’s bedsit on Haverstock Hill, he has joined the ranks of the immortal thespians who wander up and down the Hill from Old Mother Redcap’s, up to Steele’s with a detour down England’s Lane to The Washington. Even ,occasionally pressing on ever upwards, past my bedsit window opposite Hampstead Town Hall, onwards, up to the Everyman.

    Joe Orton. Forest of Dean.

  75. Godelieve van Heteren/John O'Kane said,

    February 19, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Dear Luke,
    We only found out about Nicol’s death the other day. Tried to get in touch. All our love and warmth. He’s not gone, just passed on to the next stage…
    Godelieve/John, Amsterdam

  76. Nik Wood-Jones said,

    February 27, 2012 at 4:08 am

    I think Nicol was a truly gifted actor and singer. My favourite movie of his is his pairing with Sean Connery in Robin and Marian, when all the merry men Denholm Elliott & Ronnie Barker included are affecting Scots accents to complement the two of them. As always from Nicol, a richly, sympathetic performance with a touch of a mischievous twinkle. I loved the film you did of Hamlet too. I wished I’d seen you on stage, but I like you went to that “Finishing school for local businessman’s daughters”: Birmingham School of Speech & Drama and I know you seemed to frown on the reverence of actors, but I was excited about being at the same drama school as you and things hadn’t changed in the 1990’s! I’m sure you wouldn’t have minded, but for the Oscars not to have recorded your passing in their reflection of those who had passed away this last year was a disgraceful oversight, but just goes to show that the greatest do not have to be so lauded. You will never be forgotten Mr Williamson. God love ya.

  77. J.A.Eulate said,

    February 27, 2012 at 5:49 am

    From a link of Wikipedia coming from his impersonation of Mountbatten I sadly find this news. I am very sorry for your loss. He will always be remembered by me as Mountbatten, Merlin, but mainly for a less known work which I really appreciate: the reading of audiobook ‘The hobbitt’. I learnt a lot of English with him and his impecable diction, and I owe a lot to him my pronuntiation. Thank you so much. Greetings and prayers from Spain. RIP

  78. Alex Pym said,

    February 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Dear Luke,
    I’ve only just read the sad news about your Dad’s passing. I knew your father in the late 80’s and early nineties. We were working on a filmscript (‘The Alpha Man’) which was sadly never made. Nicol was going to star in and direct it. I have fond memories of us writing together in Amsterdam. He was always charming, witty and incredibly amusing and I was always aware that I was very fortunate to be working with such a great artist.
    Nicol would often talk about you with great affection. I was in Amsterdam a year and a half ago and I passed the house where he had lived and wondered if he still lived there. Now I wish I had knocked on the door and maybe I could have seen him just one more time.

    Wishing you all the very best,

    Alex Pym

  79. Anita said,

    February 29, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I was very sad to hear the news that Nicol had died. I had the pleasure of meeting him and seeing Jack, a Night on the Town with John Barrymore when it was on in London. It remains to this day, one of the finest pieces of theatre I have been lucky enough to see and to this day I am forever telling people what an amazing actor Nicol was and how brilliant the performance was. Genius of a man.

  80. Brian Knox McGugan said,

    March 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I was most privileged to have worked with Nicol on my first apprenticeship onstage at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, in their production of The Lark by Jean Anouilh. He was both frightening and exhilarating to me then.

    On my first encounter with him, I put my foot straight in my mouth. I walked up to him and asked… “what do you think of that guy who played Merlin, in Excaliber”. He eyed me with disbelief, but then answered most graciously, and with twinkle in eye, ” well… he tried”.

    I had just one line near the end of the play (the soldier with the cross), and I’ll never forget the end of the week’s rehearsal when we finally got to my part. At the end of that scene, with full cast onstage, Nicol said good work, good night, and we’ll see you all next week. I tentatively raised my hand and said “Uh… excuse me, please can we do that one more time… please”? Nicol swept around grandly, and in front of the entire cast and said to me with his best theatrical voice, “is it heavy on your heart”? After a moment, I replied very shakily “…yes, actually, it is”. And so, we did scene again.

    I’m so grateful for this amazing gift for a first professional theatre experience, and for the chance to know Nicol, if only for those 6 weeks, so long ago.

  81. Noeline Brown said,

    May 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    I met Nic many years ago, when he was starring in Inadmissible Evidence. I probably stalked him! I was a young actor from Australia and very impressed by his formidable talent but I also loved his wild sense or humour. I still have his telephone number written on an old packet of fags. I am so sorry to hear he is no longer with us.

  82. Robert said,

    September 5, 2012 at 3:00 am

    He was a genuine original – a totally unique talent.

  83. David said,

    October 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm


    To my knowledge I have seen your father in only one thing, the movie Excalibur. I was eleven, and even then he stood out so far above every other character that his face is still what comes to mind when I imagine anything Arthurian. In a way I feel I’m spoiled; I don’t think another will ever match him. And now as I see a Gandalf or a Dumbledore I am nonplussed at best, and more, despairing. But better to have loved and lost…I look forward to seeing his other performances and having many other peoples’ roles spoilt.

    Thank you for sharing his magic with us.

  84. David Llewellyn said,

    December 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I believe he was one of the greatest acting talents to have lived. His passion is evident in all he did. Have just learned of his passing, so sorry. I have however the pleasure of enjoying introducing my children to some of his work.

  85. Randy said,

    January 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I am terribly sorry for the loss of your father. I lost my own father in March 2012, and I understand how it feels. I have always admired Nicol Williamson’s talents, and was watching “The Seven Percent Solution” tonight, which was taped on my system, and it occurred to me that I had not seen as much as I had would have liked to have seen from this amazing person in recent years. I made the discovery of this sad news online. I feel richer for having had the pleasure of watching his work. I loved his Merlin very much. God bless.

  86. Stacey said,

    January 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Watching the SAG awards tonight, they showed some members who have passed. When they showed Nicol, I was flooded with wonderful thoughts of Excalibur. I was a junior in high school when I first saw this movie. Now at the age of almost 50, I’m still very amused by Nicol’s performance of Merlin. I never miss a chance to watch it. 🙂

  87. Rodney Detrick said,

    January 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Saddened to hear the news of Mr. Williamson’s death (saw his recognition on the SAG Awards). I am a huge fan of his work and his performances in movies like Excalibur and Robin & Marian impacted my life in ways I can’t begin to describe. My thoughts and prayers to the family.

  88. Susan Hovey said,

    January 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Dear Luke,

    I had a dream a few nights ago and in it I was looking at the photos I had taken of your Dad and Mum in the hospital right after you were born. Your parents were so happy in the those photos. I think I gave them copies then or when I visited you all in London a while later. I remember the day you were born. I worked at the Pub Theatrical on 50th and Broadway. Your Dad was starring in Uncle Vanya with Julie Christie. I had just come to work and I hear that your Dad got the news and with a hue and cry ran out of the Pub full of joy knowing you were on your way out into the world. He was so overjoyed and happy to be your Dad.

    I was only 22 and so wanted to be a good actress so being able to talk to your Dad and see him act was so inspiring to me. As so many have written it was a genuine pleasure to know him. That wicked sense of humor. I remember him sharing the story of people stopping him on the street and asking him. “Are you who I think you are?” He tried to balance the false adulation and the real expression of the human condition in all the characters he crafted through his own life’s experiences. I am so glad he moved more into his music as a way to express his love for life and to express his spirit which will never die in the hearts he touched and in you as you make your way is this wild world.

    You were a fine handsome baby and you are a true loving son. My heart is heavy with the news of your Dad’s passing. And yet to have my dream around the day you posted the news tells me the connections we all share are mysterious indeed. As a singer as well as an actor, I know our voices and music reverberate with the love we all share in the listening. And that lifts my heart and allows it to sing with joy that we made the connection.

    We All Shine On. Keep making music and have a wonderful life.

  89. Edgard Georges said,

    August 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I knew too late about your father’s passing, I regret very much. I loved seeing their performances, and I’m sure it was excellent person, my late but heartfelt feelings.

    I know very well what is the loss of a person like his father, and mine, although someone extremely discreet, made ​​his mark and legacy in my life, as I feel that in you also.

    An unforgettable Merlin,The Merlin!

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