David Warner – who starred in films including Tron, Titanic and The Omen- has died aged 80 from a cancer-related illness, his family has announced.
The veteran actor – whose career spanned six decades and encompassed theatre, TV and film – died just days short of his 81st birthday.
On the big screen his roles included Billy Zane’s valet and bodyguard Spicer Lovejoy in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic, three different roles in 1981 cult classic Tron, and photographer Keith Jennings in the 1976 horror film The Omen.
Warner died on Sunday at Denville Hall, a care home for those in the entertainment industry, in the London borough of Hillingdon.
A statement from his family said: “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.”
Born in Manchester in June 1941 and educated in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, Warner had previously described his childhood as “troubled”.
After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) in London, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), with his 1965 performance in Sir Peter Hall’s Hamlet hailed as one of the finest of his generation.
He also stared in the prestigious theatre company’s productions of The Tempest, Julius Caesar and Henry VI as well as The Wars Of The Roses history plays.
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran paid tribute to Warner, calling him “a generous spirit, a kind man, and a huge talent”.
His first film role, alongside Dame Vanessa Redgrave in the 1966 film Morgan: A Suitable Case For Treatment, earned him a leading actor BAFTA nomination.
An Emmy win followed in 1981 for the Roman series Masada, in which he played politician Pomponius Falco.
Despite his success, Warner developed chronic stage fright following a production of I, Claudius in 1973, made worse by a complex caused by the skin condition psoriasis.
Subsequently, he moved away from theatre, prioritising TV and film work.
Often cast as the villain, his notable film performances include Evil in Terry Gilliam’s fantasy adventure Time Bandits, sci-fi Time After Time and 1982 cult classic Tron in which he played three roles – senior executive vice president of ENCOM Ed Dillinger, command program Sark and the voice of the Master Control Program (MCP).
He worked on three of director Sam Peckinpah’s films, including Straw Dogs, as well as roles in films The Omen and The Man With Two Brains.
In 1987, Warner moved to Hollywood, living there for 15 years, and appearing in one of the most successful films of all time – Titanic. He also played multiple roles in the Star Trek TV franchise.
Warner later appeared in Doctor Who, Twin Peaks and The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse.
In 2001, he returned to the stage after nearly 30 years to play Andrew Undershaft in a Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, and four years later played King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Working into his late 70s, he went on to star in rom-com You, Me And Him and also featured in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns as retired naval officer Admiral Boom.
He is survived by his partner Lisa Bowerman and his son Luke.