Mr. Hemmings became a 1960's icon when he starred alongside Vanessa Redgrave in the 1966 movie "Blowup," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. He also became known to contemporary film audiences through his role as the bad-tempered Coliseum master of ceremonies in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator."
However, he also made important stage appearances. As a successful child actor he was a favorite of English composer Benjamin Britten (in more ways than one—Britten reportedly asked Mr. Hemmings' father if he could unofficially "adopt" the boy for part of every year). The boy starred in the premiere of Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw at the age of nine.
As an adult, he starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1975 musical By Jeeves. Despite having Mr. Hemmings as a star draw, as well as a book by Alan Ayckbourn, the show was a flop.
Many theatregoers mourned the long absence from the stage of someone who aged into a wonderful character actor. According to the Daily Telegraph, however, Mr. Hemmings had no regrets about his famously poor choice of projects: "I've done some real stinkers, but I don't give a shit about fame. I don't consider myself to have been a star. I just married some pretty women."