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Antony Sher

Antony Sher

Antony Sher (1949–2021) was a leading actor known for his stage performances, particularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was also a highly respected author and artist.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Sher came to London in 1968, and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy. Much of his career was with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was an Associate Artist. He played Richard III, Macbeth, Leontes, Prospero, Shylock, Iago and Falstaff, as well as the leading roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Tamburlaine the Great, The Roman Actor, Tom Stoppard's Travesties, Peter Flannery's Singer, Athol Fugard's Hello and Goodbye, and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

At the National Theatre he played the title roles in Primo (his own adaptation of Primo Levi's If This is a Man), Pam Gems's Stanley, Brecht's Arturo Ui, Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (a co-production with the Market Theatre, Johannesburg), as well as Astrov in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Jacob in Nicholas Wright's Travelling Light. In the West End, his roles included Arnold in Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy, Muhammed in Mike Leigh's Goose-pimples, and Gellburg in Arthur Miller's Broken Glass. He played Freud in Terry Johnson's Hysteria at Bath's Theatre Royal and Hampstead Theatre.

Film and television appearances included Mrs Brown, Alive and Kicking, The History Man, Macbeth and J.G. Ballard's Home.

Following his debut as a writer with Year of the King (1985), an account of playing Richard III, he wrote four novels – Middlepost, Indoor Boy, Cheap Lives and The Feast – as well as other theatre journals, Woza Shakespeare! (co-written with his partner, the director Gregory Doran, who later became his husband) and Primo Time. His autobiography Beside Myself was published in 2001. His plays include I.D. (premiered at the Almeida Theatre, 2003) and The Giant (premiered at Hampstead Theatre, 2007).

He published a book of his paintings and drawings, Characters (1989), and held exhibitions of his work at the National Theatre, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and the Herbert Gallery in Coventry.

Among numerous awards, he won the Olivier Best Actor Award on two occasions (Richard III/Torch Song Trilogy and Stanley), the Evening Standard Best Actor Award (Richard III), and the Evening Standard Peter Sellers Film Award (for Disraeli in Mrs Brown). On Broadway, he won Best Solo Performer in both the Outer Critics' Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Primo. He held honorary Doctorates of Letters from the universities of Liverpool, Exeter, Warwick, and Cape Town. In 2000 he was knighted for his services to acting and writing.

Photograph of Antony Sher © Paul Stuart Photography Ltd