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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 17:41 GMT
In quotes: Tributes to Paul Scofield
Friends and colleagues have been paying tribute to renowned actor Paul Scofield, who has died aged 86.


It was said that to see Edmund Kean act was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.

Paul Scofield's acting brings to mind Shakespeare's Rosalind on how many fathoms deep she is in love: "It cannot be sounded. (It) hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal."

He was a man of wit, charm and grace; and quite extraordinarily modest
He brought you face to face with the unfathomable. No actor summoned with such authority the mysterious depths of human experience.

I worked with him on the film of Arthur Miller's The Crucible; he never let on how he did it. He didn't really want to talk about it, apparently approaching the part through the way it sounded, though all the time probing it for secrets that were unknown even to its writer.

He brought to Danforth, the hanging judge, the same deep spiritual conviction that he found in Sir Thomas More; and he was infinitely terrifying - much more frightening than he would have been if he'd played merely scary.

He was a man of wit, charm and grace; and quite extraordinarily modest. He was revered by all other actors, and his amazing voice was the subject of numerous imitations.

I asked him two or three times to come to the National again. A year or so ago, he was tempted, for about a week, to say yes to Oedipus at Colonnus. He told me he'd been thinking about the part for many years, but it wasn't the right time.

I'm sorry he didn't, but we had no right to expect anything more from a life that delivered such a rich harvest of great performances.


Paul Scofield
Scofield won an best actor Oscar for A Man For All Seasons
He was an absolutely towering actor.

He had a kind of extraordinary physical warmth, almost literally like being near a fire, in a way that I have almost never experienced with another actor. It was a sort of blaze.

He had charisma, hypnotism, a kind of spell which he cast on an audience which was an extraordinary thing to negotiate as a young actor.

I didn't realise then what it's like. It's carnal when an audience wants an actor as much as an audience wanted Paul Scofield. You stand in danger of getting sucked in by it.


He was my hero and he became my friend and teacher. He was one of the greats. He was a genius actor. There have been quite a few but he was certainly one of the great ones. It isn't something you can learn.

Paul Scofield
Scofield starred with Felicity Kendal in Othello and Amadeus
It's a gift combined with personality. He was also very, very funny. He was professional, and very giving. He was witty and had a naughty sense of humour.

He was devoted, he gave us his all. He was one of the most generous actors on the stage. The eye contact, the energy, the concentration. He was mesmerising but he was not one of those actors who would only look after himself.

He was incredibly friendly but at the end of his work he would just disappear because he was not a party animal.

He was the most generous of actors. His body of work is just tremendous. It's just so sad that he's no longer there.

It's a great loss.


Paul Scofield was the finest actor I have ever worked with, and the only great actor I have worked with who was not in any sense a star - there was no great publicity about him, no scandal about him, none of the attitude to stardom.

He had many interests and was fascinating to talk to - but without doubt he lived for acting.

He was the most concentrated actor I've ever worked with and, above all, he was a great actor who made one feel completely at ease.


Scofield was simply one of the greats, creating landmark performances of all the great Shakespeare roles at Stratford, from Hamlet to Macbeth to Lear.

He joined the company after the war in 1946, playing everything from Henry V, Troilus and Mercutio, to Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

His versatility was phenomenal, and his craftsmanship as an actor is still remembered by those that worked with him.

Janet Suzman and Michael Pennington, both young actors in the 1965 production of Timon of Athens, remember sitting in rehearsals huddling around cups of coffee - watching Scofield walk in and go to the end of the rehearsal room and, with that unique, rich gravel voice of his, run through the great wall tirade several times while they stood gaping in awe.

A sad loss.

'Goodnight sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.'

Clips of Paul Scofield

Acting world mourns Paul Scofield
20 Mar 08 |  Entertainment
Obituary: Paul Scofield
20 Mar 08 |  Entertainment

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