Robert Addie

Action-man actor who tended to be typecast

Friday 02 January 2004 01:00

Robert Addie, actor: born Stroud, Gloucestershire 10 February 1960; three times married (three children); died Cheltenham, Gloucestershire 20 November 2003.

The film and stage actor Robert Addie found international fame with his role as Mordred in John Boorman's visually impressive film Excalibur (1981), based on the legend of King Arthur. Three years later, he became a familiar face to Saturday teatime-television viewers for his role as Sir Guy of Gisburne in the British drama series Robin of Sherwood, starring Michael Praed as Robin Hood.

"John Boorman gave me the job as Mordred because of my resemblance to his son, Charlie, who played Mordred as a boy. I'd say that was a lucky break," Addie said in 2002:

I was a keen horseman and professional polo player, having ridden since childhood. Both roles required the actor to be able to handle a horse. So I already had my advantage.

Addie was born in 1960 at Stroud in Gloucestershire, the son of a stable owner, and was educated at Marlborough College, where he excelled in languages and also became an accomplished swordsman and archer. He left at 16 and worked as an estate agent before deciding to enrol at the National Youth Theatre. He stayed there for two years, often accepting small roles, including parts in Richard Burton's Gothic thriller Absolution (1978) and Horse in the House (also 1978), for which he dyed his hair black to play a gypsy. In 1979, he gained a place at Rada, but left the following year in order to play Mordred.

Blond and blue-eyed, suave, with aristocratic good looks, at one time Addie was hardly out of the tabloid press. After Excalibur, he became somewhat typecast, playing a series of mythological warriors or army men. He played the title role in the short-lived mini-series Stalky & Co (1982) and was Grantly Goulding in The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (1984), before taking the role of Guy of Gisburne.

Cinemagoers saw him as Delahay in Another Country (1984), starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, and again with Firth in the comedy Dutch Girls (1985). He was cast as Sir Charles Kirkgordon in I'll Take Manhattan (1987) as Lord Peter Gillingham in the Barbara Cartland bodice- ripper A Hazard of Hearts (1987).

In 1989, Addie went into semi- retirement, dividing his time between the United States and a home in Spain. Six years later he returned, performing in fringe theatre and subsequently on television in Red Dwarf (1994-95), as General Russell in Bugs (1995) and as Sir Gilbert in the big-budget television drama Merlin (1998) with Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter and Sir John Gielgud. His last screen appearance was in Patrice Chéreau's film Intimacy (2001).

Howard Mutti-Mewse

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