Portrait of a hellraiser: eye to eye with Oliver Reed

Rob Sharp
Wednesday 27 October 2010 00:00

The overcoat and sharp suit suggest the propriety of a City gentleman; the jaunty crease in the collar and the watery eyes are evidence of a less wholesome demeanour lurking just beneath the surface.

In 1986, the then 48-year-old Oliver Reed was one of the best-known actors in Britain, despite his much-discussed problems with alcohol off-camera.

This hitherto unseen photograph, to be auctioned next month, was taken by Alistair Morrison in London's Docklands after Reed had filmed the early scenes of Castaway, released the same year. (It was based on the experience of the writer Lucy Irvine, who responded successfully to an advertisement for "Writer seeks 'wife' for year on tropical island".)

Morrison recalls: "I was slightly forewarned that arranging to meet Oliver after midday, when he'd been drinking for a while, could prove troublesome. So I arranged to meet him at 11.

"I ended up spending most of the afternoon with him in a pub. He took a shine to me, I enjoyed his company. He was quite the ladies' man and he asked me about some of the famous women I'd photographed. I told him I'd done Amanda Donohoe and he seemed to be a big fan."

The photograph will be sold at Bonhams in London on 16 November, along with a portrait of the commentator Frederick Forsyth, also by Morrison. The Reed and Forsyth photographs are expected to sell for up to £2,200 and £2,000 respectively.

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