New Zealand-born actor Terence Bayler, who played roles in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Doctor Who among others, has died aged 86.
Born in 1930 in Wanganui, Bayler moved to London in the 1950s and soon became a jobbing actor, with roles including two stints on Doctor Who in 1966’s The Ark (where he played a rebellious slave) and 1969’s War Games (where he was a hypnotised army major). He began to become more well-known after starring in Roman Polanski’s 1971 version of Macbeth, where he played the title character’s nemesis MacDuff.
In 1979 he was cast in Monty Python’s Life of Brian as Gregory, and improvised the memorable line “I’m Brian, and so is my wife,” in the film’s crucifixion scene as Brian’s (Graham Chapman) fellow prisoners tried to escape death. Earlier, in a scene where a crowd chanted “we are all individuals”, he had ad-libbed “I’m not!” another joke that became a favourite in the film.
And his performance on the film wasn’t the end of his Python-related work, with Bayler cast in Terry Gilliam’s films Time Bandits and Brazil in 1981 and 1985 respectively, and frequently collaborating with Eric Idle on TV shows, films and plays.
“I think the thing I loved most about Terence Bayler was his gentle loving considerate humour,” Idle wrote on his blog yesterday in tribute to his friend.
“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.
“Terence appeared in my play Pass The Butler in the West End in 1983 and was an important part of the little rep company we gathered to take to Tunisia to film The Life of Brian in 1979.
“He was a terrific dead pan comedian and great company and as always with such sad news I instantly miss being able to say hello. Or even goodbye. It was a privilege and a pleasure to know him. He enriched my life and I loved him.”
In recent years Bayler’s work reached a younger audience through an appearance in 2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, where he played Slytherin house ghost the Bloody Baron.
According to the Guardian Bayler passed away last month on August 2nd, and is survived by his wife Valerie Cutko and two children from his first marriage to Bridget Armstrong.