March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield, 1922 - 2008.

Paul Scofield
On stage, the actor Paul Scofield, who has died aged 86, was braver than a lion. Off stage this genial man kept his private life quiet as a mouse.... [I]t was his voice that marked him out. It already had the sonority and "iron sweetness" that the film director Fred Zinnemann, who directed Scofield in his Oscar-winning performance as Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons (1966), called "a Rolls Royce being started up." The critic JC Trewin once described Scofield's voice as "sunlight on a broken column."

Lyn Gardner, the Guardian.


Scofield had a moral integrity and quiet authority that shone through everything he did. Even his choice of roles was exemplary: many actors trade fame for money, but I can't think of a single meretricious piece of work Scofield ever did. But, like all great actors, he also had a rich sense of comedy that would often emerge unexpectedly.

Michael Billington, the Guardian.

Within the acting profession Scofield was often referred to as 'St Paul.' In part it was the appearance, always distinguished but in late middle age almost demanding veneration, with the brow and cheeks deeply lined. Scofield's features at times had the look of a statue pitted by the wind and the rain. The weather-beaten face was a reflection of the long walks he was in the habit of taking across the downs near his Sussex home and around his Scottish summer retreat on the Isle of Mull.

The London Times.

Blessed with powerful features and a richness of voice, Scofield's most obvious quality was his ability to bring a poised tension to everything that he did.

The Telegraph.

I've always used the running gag that "All British actors are whores" though I always qualified that with one exception: Paul Scofield.

Edward Copeland.

Of his acting generation - Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris were his closest peers in age and impact - Scofield was the film star who wasn't. No marriages to Hollywood sex goddesses, no flirtations with the star-making machinery, no appearances in Harry Potter movies. He was primarily about the stage and, even more fundamentally, about playing a role before a live audience. "Acting is all I can do," said the man who turned down a knighthood three times and who stayed married to the same woman for 65 years.

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr.

It's a flab-free resume.... But Scofield had me at More.

Robert Cashill.

He was truly a sui generis actor. Have you ever heard anyone say of another performer, "He reminds me of Paul Scofield?"

Glenn Kenny.

See also: a Guardian gallery; Screen Online; and Wikipedia.

Update: "Sir John Gielgud admired Mr Scofield's stillness and sense of mystery, describing him as 'a sphinx with a secret,'" writes Benedict Nightingale in the New York Times. "Peter Hall, who directed Mr Scofield's acclaimed Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus in London in 1979, said that as a young man Mr Scofield brought 'a sulfurous passion, an entirely new note' to the stage, and that there was always a tremendous tension beneath the surface, 'like a volcano erupting.'"

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Posted by dwhudson at March 20, 2008 8:43 AM


Best thing he ever did was that involuntary eye twitch in The Crucible.

Posted by: at March 20, 2008 8:49 AM