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Derrick O’Connor, the respected character actor who portrayed a vicious South African bad guy in Lethal Weapon 2 and appeared in three films for Terry Gilliam, has died. He was 77.
O’Connor died Friday of pneumonia in Santa Barbara, publicist Jane Ayer announced.
A native of Ireland, O’Connor also stood out as Sarah Miles’ neighbor Mac in John Boorman’s autobiographical World War II period piece Hope and Glory (1987).
He also played the theologian Thomas Aquinas opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in End of Days (1999); Father Everett, a blind superhero’s confidante, in Daredevil (2003); and an aspiring buccaneer in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006).
After appearing as a “flying hogfish peasant” in Jabberwocky (1977), Gilliam’s first non-Monty Python feature, O’Connor portrayed the grunting robber Redgrave in Time Bandits (1981) and played Dowser, the partner of Bob Hoskins’ heating engineer Spoor, in Gilliam’s classic Brazil (1985).
Perhaps O’Connor’s most well-known role was as the villain Pieter Vorstedt, who serves as Arjen Rudd’s (Joss Ackland) evil right-hand man and has a fatal encounter with a cargo container, in Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon 2 (1989).
Born in Dublin on Jan. 3, 1941, and raised in London, O’Connor was a distinguished member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Scottish National Theatre, with lead stage roles in Edinburgh, Stratford-on-Avon and the West End.
He starred in U.K. productions of such plays as The Knack, The Dumb Waiter and Born Yesterday and worked with such notable directors as Mike Leigh and Richard Eyre.
O’Connor’s theater resume also included directing and producing a presentation of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape and directing Rock Justice, written by Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin (both were staged in San Francisco). And he wrote and directed the Irish docudrama film A Pint of Plain (1975).
O’Connor also appeared on television in the U.S. on such shows as Alias, Carnivale, Tracey Takes On, Monk, Ghost and Murder, She Wrote and in the U.K. and Australia in Stringer, Fox, The Sweeney and Knockback.
The actor often pared down — or fully eliminated — his lines in order to emphasize the physical aspects of his roles, a method that drew the admiration of Gilliam.
O’Connor relocated to the U.S. in 1990 and was most recently living in the Santa Ynez Valley, north of Santa Barbara.
Survivors include his wife, Mimi, and son, Max. A private celebration of his life will take place in San Francisco.
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