I do not live in the world of sobriety.—Oliver Reed
English actor (1938-1999) known for his brutish persona and extraordinary real-life drinking. Some of his minor early roles were in Hammer films, including Curse of the Werewolf, Hammer's only werewolf movie. He also made several films with Ken Russell, including The Devils, Tommy (based on The Who's rock opera) and Women In Love (notorious for his full-frontal nude wrestling scene with Alan Bates). He played Bill Sikes in the 1968 Best Picture Oscar winner, Oliver!. (The director, Carol Reed, was his uncle. Oliver had refused to work with him until he was established as an actor to avoid accusations of nepotism.) For a little while in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was the highest-paid actor in Europe. Interestingly, he was perhaps the only major British star of the period who didn't have any experience or training in the theater. (He stated in interviews that he considered "life" to be the best teacher for actors.) He played Athos in Richard Lester's trilogy of Musketeer films (including The Three Musketeers 1973, The Four Musketeers, and The Return of the Musketeers). His career had faltered by the 80s and he was mostly reduced to doing paycheck roles, though he did get some respectable work, including playing the god Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and the slave dealer Proximo in Gladiator. He died while filming that last one, forcing some creative story alterations.
Reed was infamous for his heavy drinking and marathon "pub crawls". He got into a bar brawl in 1963 that resulted in a scar on his face that he was afraid would end his career; another time he threw up on Steve McQueen. However, Brian Blessed managed to wrangle him into sobriety for the length of filming on Prisoner Of Honor, primarily by being large and scary (in essence, by simply being Brian Blessed). Rumor has it that his alcoholism cost Reed the role of James Bond in the late 1960s.