Black Sheep – The Authorised biography of Nicol Williamson to be published by The History Press in February 2018
Once hailed by John Osborne as “the greatest actor since Brando,” latterly known as a ruined genius whose unpredictable, hell-raising behavior was legendary, Nicol Williamson always went his own way. Openly dismissive of “technical” actors, or others who played The Bard as if “their finger was up their arse”, Williamson tore up the rule book to deliver a fast-talking canon of Shakespearean heroes, with portrayals marked by gut-wrenching passion.
According to one co-star, Williamson was like a tornado on stage – “he felt he was paddling for his life.” Fiercely uncompromising, choosy about the roles he accepted, contemptuous of the “suits” who made money off artists, and a perfectionist who never accepted second best from himself or others, Nicol sometimes alienated other actors and directors. But even his detractors still acknowledge his brilliance.
My new biography traces the career of a performer hailed as the greatest British stage actor of his generation and explains why, in the end, Nicol Williamson was – in the words of distinguished critic Kenneth Tynan – “his own island”.