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Paul Scofield

Paul Scofield, who died on Wednesday aged 86, was among the outstanding actors of his generation, and was particularly noted for his interpretations of the great Shakespearean roles.

He was elegant. He could also be funny and furious. In America he became famous for Man for All Seasons, his portrayal of Thomas More.

"Scofield could create sympathy without stooping to sentimentality; and, in particular, sympathy for intellectual figures. This was partly due to his naturally graceful manner and partly to an innate reserve. The suggestion was of a cautious intelligence, a reflective disposition, which, when applied to parts such as Harry in TS Eliot's Family Reunion, Leone in Pirandello's Rules of the Game, or Hamlet, Uncle Vanya or Prospero, gave Scofield a peculiar supremacy on the stage.

"He once observed of stagecraft: 'In a sense, you make music. You use the notes of a writer as a musician does, but the actor is, in effect, his own instrument. Whereas two violinists will always make the same tune from a row of notes, two actors will make different tunes from the same piece of text. This is not something you can learn in classes. It's actually doing it.'"

Ave atque Vale.

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