Terence Rigby, Stage Actor of Sinister Stillness, Dies at 71

Obituaries   Terence Rigby, Stage Actor of Sinister Stillness, Dies at 71
Terence Rigby, the British actor adept at playing villains, and who embodied ambiguous menace in several plays by Harold Pinter, died of lung cancer Aug. 10. He was 71.

Mr. Rigby played the mentally slow, would-be boxer Joey in the Peter Hall-directed 1967 Broadway premiere of Pinter's tale of a son's unexpected return to his unsettling London family, The Homecoming. A decade later, he was again tapped by Pinter and Hall, this time to play the henchman Briggs alongside antagonists of uncertain origins played by John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in No Man's Land.

"I always strive to be an economical actor," he told Playbill's Harry Haun upon returning to Broadway in a 1999 revival of Amadeus. "Personally, I don't see myself as an aggressive person, but people have attached a menace to the stillness I have on stage."

The actor also appeared in Pinter's The Caretaker, as Davies. The two men became close friends. "I used to go round to his house in Hanover Terrace," said Mr. Rigby. "I had that irritating habit of just turning up, which I suppose is a working class thing."

He was born in Birmingham on Jan. 2, 1937. His interest in acting began while in the Boy Scouts and then at grammar school in Birmingham. After a stint in the Royal Air Force, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Over his career, he appeared in major productions of Shakespeare, Pirandello, Racine, Ibsen, Chekhov and Beckett. Peter Hall directed him in 2005 on Beckett's Waiting for Godot. He was the Ghost, Player King and Gravedigger in the 1995 Ralph Fiennes production of Hamlet. More recently, he was in Smelling a Rat by Mike Leigh in its Off-Broadway debut with the New Group. The star's film credits included "Mona Lisa Smile" in 2003, the Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997), "The Dogs of War" (1980), the modern noir classic "Get Carter" (1971), "Elizabeth" (1998) and "Scandal" in 1989. He was perhaps best known for his role as PC Snow in the TV series from the 1960s and 1970s, "Softly, Softly: Task Force." Other TV credits included "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "The Beiderbecke Affair."

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