At the age of 95, veteran British actor Joss Ackland, who was best known for his parts in “White Mischief” and “Lethal Weapon 2,” passed away on Sunday.
“Joss was a longtime client and great friend who remained lucid, erudite, and mischievous to the very end,” said his representative, Paul Pearson. Along with his family, he passed away quietly this morning.”
In Richard Donner’s “Lethal Weapon 2, ” Ackland portrayed a villainous diplomat,” saying the iconic line “Diplomatic immunity!” just before Danny Glover’s character Roger Murtaugh shoots him.
In a statement that the BBC was able to obtain, the actor’s family warmly referred to him as a “cherished father.” They noted that Ackland brought a unique intensity and gravitas to his roles and praised his distinctive voice and commanding presence. As one of the most gifted and well-liked actors in Britain, his legacy is honored.
Remembering Joss Ackland’s wide number of film and television credits
With more than 130 film and television credits under his belt, Ackland demonstrated his versatility in a wide range of roles, including “K-19: The Widowmaker,” “Bill & Ted,” and “The Hunt for Red October,” in which he co-starred with Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery.
Among his well-known TV appearances are the roles of C.S. Lewis in “Shadowlands” and “Midsomer Murders.” In the movie “Lethal Weapon 2,” Ackland’s evil diplomat character exclaims, “Diplomatic immunity!” just before he is confronted by Danny Glover’s cop Roger Murtaugh.
Ackland was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001 in honor of his contributions to drama.
He was nominated for two BAFTAs during his remarkable career: one for Best Actor in the television film “First and Last” and another for Supporting Actor in “White Mischief.” Ackland’s theatrical abilities went beyond the big screen, as evidenced by her prominent stage roles opposite such luminaries as Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, and Tom Courtenay.
Among his noteworthy on-stage roles are his roles as Juan Peron in “Evita” and Hermione Gingold in “A Little Night Music.”
Ackland was raised in Kilburn, North London, after being born in 1928 in Ladbroke Grove, London. He studied at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama before making his professional stage debut at the age of 17 in the 1945 production of “The Hasty Heart.”
Ackland worked with several local theater groups to polish his skills before joining London’s Old Vic. Ackland was married to Rosemary for 51 years before she passed away in 2002.
She left behind seven children, thirty great-grandchildren, and thirty grandchildren.
Joss Ackland’s early life
Edmond Sidney Major Sydney Norman Ackland was the father of Jocelyn Ackland, who was born in North Kensington, London, on February 29, 1928.
A previous incident involving their maid’s seduction resulted in the Irish journalist Major Ackland being sent to live with an aunt in England.
He did, however, go on to woo Ruth Izod, his aunt’s maid, whom he eventually married. Elsie Fogerty trained Sidney Ackland at the Central School of Speech and Drama, housed at London’s Royal Albert Hall at the time.
When Ackland and Rosemary Kirkcaldy got married on August 18, 1951, they were 23 and 22 years old, respectively. Actress Rosemary was taken in by Ackland when they appeared together on stage in Pitlochry, Scotland.
Ackland was just starting his acting career, so the first few years of their marriage were difficult. They moved to Lilongwe, in what was then Nyasaland (now Malawi), in 1954, and Ackland spent six months running a tea plantation there.
But after deciding it was too risky, they relocated to Cape Town, South Africa. After two years, in 1957, they left South Africa despite landing steady acting jobs there.