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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
'One of the all-time greats'
Sir Alec Guinness
Sir Alec "let the camera come to him"
Tributes to Sir Alec Guinness, who died on Sunday night, are being paid by friends and colleagues throughout the world of theatre, television and film.

One of the most talented and respected actors of his generation

George Lucas
The Star Wars film maker George Lucas paid tribute, describing Sir Alec as "one of the most talented and respected actors of his generation".

He added: "I was looking for an actor who brought a certain authority to the role - someone who was powerful yet gentle and that came across in Alec as a person and as an actor."

Film critic Sheridan Morley told BBC News 24 that, unlike many esteemed actors of his generation, Sir Alec knew screen-acting was completely different from the stage.


"He realised that cinema was something new just after the war, he also understood the others were very theatrical on film, almost over the top," he said.

"He was very quiet, he understood the camera, he understood that if you let the camera come to you and don't go out to it, it becomes a very powerful weapon."

George Lucas
George Lucas was amongst the first to pay tribute
He said Guinness's partnership with the director David Lean - which first produced two Charles Dickens adaptations, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations - went on to produce an extraordinary run of epics.

These included Bridge on the River Kwai, Dr Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and A passage to India.

He agreed with George Lucas that Guinness was "a gentle, modest man, very religious".

Mr Morley said Guinness's best acting had to be found in the film Kind Hearts and Coronets, where Sir Alec played eight different roles.

He said: "He was a great disguise actor, not even Peter Sellers who was pretty good as a mimic, got through eight separate roles in 90 minutes and made them all distinct."

Filmmaker Ronald Neame, who produced the two Dickens films, felt devastated by the news.

"He was one of the all time greats of both stage and screen. Professionally and personally he was one of my greatest friends and I am absolutely shattered," he said.

Eye for detail

The American actress Eileen Brennan starred with him in "Murder by Death" and knew him well.

She told 5Live: "I remember warmth from him, he had an eye for detail...his detail of a character was superb."

She said despite his reputation as an excellent actor she was never in awe of him as he had such a benevolent personality.

Ms Brennan said she was still in shock over the news of his death.

She said: "I had a letter on my desk, sealed up to mail to him. Now I'll put it in with another letter to his wife."

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07 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Sir Alec Guinness dies
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