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Terence Bayler, the New Zealand actor who starred in Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, has died. He was 86.
Bayler, who also had roles in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985), died Aug. 2, according to The Guardian.
Friend and collaborator Eric Idle wrote on his blog on Thursday: “I think the thing I loved most about Terence Bayler was his gentle loving considerate humour. … I loved his commitment to a role and his high seriousness no matter how apparently silly the part. For a writer there is nothing finer than an actor taking your work and making it better than you imagined it.”
Bayler starred with Idle on the 1970s BBC series Rutland Weekend Television, for which Idle also wrote, as well as the TV movie The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978), a mockumentary about a Beatles-like band in which Bayler was the manager Leggy Mountbatten. He also was cast in Idle’s West End play Pass the Butler in 1983.
In 1979, Bayler starred as Gregory in The Life of Brian, the Monty Python film about a young Jewish man named Brian (Graham Chapman) who is mistaken for the Messiah. During a scene in which several prisoners on crucifixes claim to be Brian, Bayler yells the memorable line: “I’m Brian and so’s my wife!”
Bayler was born Jan. 24, 1930, in Wanganui, New Zealand. His father, who worked as a stagehand, would give him free tickets to the shows, which inspired Bayler’s interest in theater. In the 1950s he moved to London and made his West End debut in Villa Sleep Four in 1960, followed by Critic’s Choice in 1961 and The Right Honourable Gentleman in 1964.
Bayler’s first film role was in Broken Barrier (1952), a New Zealand drama directed by John O’Shea that followed the romance between a Pakeha journalist (Bayler) and a Maori nurse (Kay Ngarimu). The film was considered controversial for its depiction of the prejudice between Pakeha and Maori people in New Zealand. To mark its importance in New Zealand film history, a still of Broken Barrier was used in 1996 for the country’s 80 cent stamp.
Bayler became well-known after starring in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth (1971), in which he played Macduff. During filming, he was injured in a sword fight with Jon Finch, who played Macbeth, and needed stitches.
Bayler’s association with the Monty Python team continued with Gilliam, for which he starred in Time Bandits and Brazil. He also had a role in Merchant Ivory’s 1993 film The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) as the Bloody Baron. His last film role was in the 2008 horror film Chemical Wedding.
Bayler also starred in a number of TV series, including Doctor Who, Law & Order, Play for Today and Life Begins.
He is survived by his wife, Valerie Cutko, and two children from his first marriage to Bridget Armstrong.
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