Nicol Williamson, the British actor best known for his portrayal of Merlin in the 1981 film "Excalibur," has died at age 75. His son, Luke, posted the sad news to the actor's official website. "Dad died peacefully in the early hours of the 16th of December after a two year all-out, balls to the wall struggle against esophageal cancer. He gave it all he had: never gave up, never complained, maintained his wicked sense of humor to the end. His last words were 'I love you'. I was with him, he was not alone, he was not in pain."

Williamson's other memorable film roles include the title role in the 1969 Hamlet," Sherlock Holmes in "The Seven Per-Cent Solution," and Little John opposite Sean Connery's Robin Hood in "Robin and Marian." He was nominated three times by the British Academy Film Awards, Britain's equivalent of the Oscars.

He was also a powerhouse on the stage, with playwright John Osborne calling him "the greatest actor since Marlon Brando." He played MacBeth in London and on Broadway and created a one-man show about John Barrymore. He was nominated for Tony Awards for his lead role in 1966 Osborne's play "Inadmissible Evidence," and for a 1974 revival of "Uncle Vanya." He was also famous for his erratic onstage behavior, which included berating the audience and chastising fellow actors.

Among his last roles were Louis Mountbatten (for a 1986 TV movie), "Black Widow," "Return to Oz" and "Spawn."

Luke Williamson told the AP via a phone interview that his father continued working up until the end. "He could do it all. He could sing, he wrote poetry, he wrote prose, he wrote a book ... He was working on a CD in the year leading up to his illness, and he finished it while he was going through chemotherapy." Luke said his father never really liked the acting scene. "Dad didn't play that game," he said. "One of the tremendous things about Nicol was that he was always straight up with you." HIs son finished his online tribute with the words, "The mould is broken, we will never see his like again in the world... Dad will live in the memory of all those who knew him, all those who were affected by a performance of his they saw, and all those he made laugh until they couldn't breathe. I love you Dad. Good game, sir, good game."

[via nicolwilliamson.com, AP]
CATEGORIES Movies