The cult Irish stage and screen star Milo O’Shea has died at age 86. O’Shea was known for his versatility as an actor, portraying both good and evil characters in comedic productions as well as dramatic ones. The actor began his career with a number of stage productions, but his first prominent role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1967 adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
O’Shea’s career was an mix of serious and somewhat bizarre roles. He played the infamous Dr. Durand Durand in the 1968 cult favorite Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda. O’Shea then followed up the role with a turn as the well-intentioned Friar Laurence in Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and the abrasive trial judge in the 1982 film The Verdict, starring Paul Newman. 1968 also saw the actor star in his first ever Broadway role in Staircase, which earned him a Tony award nomination. O’Shea was again nominated for a Tony for his role in Mass Appeal in 1981.
A staple of O’Shea’s career was playing priests – both benevolent and evil ones. He also enjoyed portraying Irishmen. In the 1997 film The Matchmaker, for example, he depicted the title character, a gently scheming fellow intent on pairing up the residents of an Irish village, American tourists and other visitors. He later spoke of that role to the Irish Voice newspaper, saying that the character was “filled with love, and that’s how I tried to play him. That’s how I try to play all my characters, no matter who they are.”
The world of film and theatre will miss Milo O’Shea and his unique outlook on life and acting.