Nigel Davenport

  1. Douglas Rain, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.   Booked for the voice of the HAL computer, Davenport was actually on the Elstree set feeding lines to astronauts Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood – until director Stanley Kubrick felt the English accent “too distracting.”   For the rest of the shoot, the movie astronauts had to put up with a Cockney assistant director… “Better tike a stress pill, Dive.”
  2. Robert Urquhart, The Looking Glass War, 1969.   “Uncertain evidence suggested Soviet missiles being put in place close to the German border,” begins John le Carré’s official synopsis for his (botched) third filmed book (after The Spy Who Came in From  the Cold and The Deadly Affair  (ex-Call for the Dead).  Davenport and Ian Cullen turned their backs on Johnson ,the radio operator   training  The Department’s luckless Polish-born  spy Fred Leiser – a woefully miscast Christopher Jones.
  3. Joss Ackland, Villain, 1971.   A classic case of   swopping roles?   Not. Quite.   Ackland pursued the role of Richard Burton’s rival East End gangster with such fury that Davenport never knew what hit him. Nor did producer Alan Ladd Jr Hearing Nigel had won the role, Joss sped home, changed into black shirt, white tie, plastered his hair down, returned to the Ladd’s office, swept past his secretary, grabbed Laddie by the lapels and snarled: “If you don’t give me this bleeding part, I’ll break your bloody neck.” And Nigel inherited the cop role that Ackland had previously refused.
  4. Frank Finlay, Lifeforce, 1984.     A big UK  search went on  for German actors  (hello, Anton Diffring!) or those who could play German. Result: 22 possibilities…  Davenport, Bernard Archard, John Bennett, Dirk Bogarde, Anton Diffring, Denholm Elliott,  Michael Gough, Bernard Hepton,  Trevor Howard, Freddie Jones, Klaus Kinski, Hardy Kruger, Herbert Lom, James Mason (ah, Rommel!),  Donald Pleasence, Clifford Rose, Leonard Rossitier, Maximilian Schell, Vladek Sheybal, Robert Stephens and even Max von Sydow. (Hey, an accent is an accent). All up  for Dr Hans Fallada, an expert of – get this! – life after death. And all the time, US director Tobe Hooper knew it didn’t matter a damn who played what guy as all eyes  would be on Mathilda May – fully naked for almost the entire 116 minutes.  (A rare accomplishment, swiftly copied the following year by another Parisienne,  Patricia Barzyk – Miss France 1980 – in Jean-Pierre Mocky’s La machine à découdre).


 Birth year: 1928Death year: 2013Other name: Casting Calls:  4