in The Reptile (1966)
4 August 1918|
Derry, County Londonderry, Ireland, United Kingdom
14 December 1988 (aged 70)|
New York City, New York, United States
|Occupation||Theatre director, actor|
He was also a theatre director and actor, and won a Tony Award in 1962 for his direction of the original Broadway production of Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons. According to Bolt, he was instrumental in many aspects of the play's development, including the casting of Paul Scofield as Thomas More. In 1966 he was nominated in the same category for James Goldman's The Lion in Winter. He later directed Katharine Hepburn and Christopher Reeve in A Matter of Gravity in 1976. He frequently collaborated with Bolt, directing The Tiger and the Horse and Gentle Jack (and appearing in Zhivago, which Bolt scripted). One of his most famous theatrical roles was opposite Alec Guinness in the stage production of Bridget Boland's The Prisoner, for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award, and which was later made into a film with Guinness and Jack Hawkins.
Willman studied for the stage at the London Theatre Studio which had been set up by Michel St Denis and George Devine in 1935. Working as stage manager for John Gielgud's touring production of The Beggar's Opera, he took over the role of Macheath at short notice from Michael Redgrave, who and fallen ill and whose usual understudy had suffered a bout of laryngitis. During the war he toured with the Old Vic Company, then directed by Tyrone Guthrie, playing in The Merchant of Venice in 1941, and taking part in several productions at the Vic's Liverpool Playhouse base, including Shaw's Androcles and the Lion. Prompted by Guthrie, he became a director, in 1942 presenting his debut production Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill.
- The Pickwick Papers (1952) - Mr. Perker
- Androcles and the Lion (1952) - Spintho
- The Net (1953) - Dr. Dennis Bord
- Malta Story (1953) - Hobley, Navy Pilot (uncredited)
- Beau Brummell (1954) - Lord Byron
- The Dark Avenger (1955) - Du Guesclin
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - Woburn
- Seven Waves Away (1957) - Aubrey Clark
- Across the Bridge (1957) - Chief of Police
- Carve Her Name with Pride (1958) - Interrogator
- Cone of Silence (1960) - Nigel Pickering
- Never Let Go (1960) - Inspector Thomas
- The Criminal (1960) - Prison Governor
- Two Living, One Dead (1961) - Johnson
- The Girl on the Boat (1961) - Webster
- The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) - Dr. Ravna
- Doctor Zhivago (1965) - Razin
- The Reptile (1966) - Dr. Franklyn
- The Vengeance of She (1968) - Za-Tor
- The Odessa File (1974) - Franz Bayer
- 21 Hours at Munich (1976) - Interior Minister Bruno Merk (Last appearance)
- "Noel Willman Biography (1918-1988)". filmreference.com.
- "Noel Willman". BFI.
- "Tony Winner : Noel Willman; Actor-Director on Broadway". latimes.
- The Broadway League. "The Lion in Winter - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". ibdb.com.
- The Broadway League. "A Matter of Gravity - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". ibdb.com.
- "Noel Willman:". derryjournal.com.
- K-Point Internet Solutions - Warrenpoint, Newry, County Down. "The Dictionary of Ulster Biography". newulsterbiography.co.uk.
- Londonderry Journal 29/02/1940. "Success of Young Derryman".
- Theatre Programme, Liverrpool Playhouse (12 October 1943). "Ah, Widerness!".