For the youngest of us, he is the Well-manicured man, one of the chiefs of the secret organisation who give assignments to the two FBI agents, Mulder and Scully, the heroes of the excellent Series X-Files.
He is also the four stars restaurant waiter in the movie Dangerous Mind, and General Staedert, spaceship commodore, in the extraordinary Fifth Element of J.L. Besson.
Others can recall imaginative and odd adventurer Baron of Munchausen.
Holmesians are most remembering for the bright, sharp, confident, sometimes abrupt, but sensitive Holmes, the actor with splendid black and white underlined features, had played in fact, the part of the great detective in the 1965 movie A study in Terror.
But the thing which one ignores is that he took the same part, some years later, in a theatre play.
John Neville, born 2nd May 1925, in London, was first destined to play professional football (theatre and cinema won what football has lost) ; he is a complete experienced actor.
From sciences-fiction where he seems playing with a lot of fun (X-Files, The Fifth Element, Star Trek) to classical plays (Hamlet, Henry the V) crossing comedies (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) and comical plays, the actor links his casts with fantastic freedom…
Almost he is principally a man of theatre. He most contributed to increase and make progress in this art in post-war England and so in Canada since the 70s.
When he was 30, he was yet an emblematic feature of the British theatre and had acquired a solid repute. Along six years at the Old Vic Theatre of London (1953-1959) he became one of the leaders of the company with Richard Burton. The two friends, who liked sometimes exchanged their parts, from one to other performances, excited crowds.
Even if groups of fans were fighting to prove one was better than the other, there was no true competition between the two men.
In 1956 and 1957, Jeremy Brett joined the team of the Old Vic, playing by the side of John Neville and so with Charles Gray.
When John Neville left the Old Vic, He played the part of Don Frederick in the play “The Chances”, directed in 1961 by Laurence Olivier, during the “Chichester Festival.”
In 1963, he became the artistic manager of Nottingham Playhouse. He wished to prove that the best productions weren’t working only in London and made with this provincial theatre an national and international reputed place ! One could recognize in his company great actors like Ian McKellan, Judi Dench, Edward Woodward, Alan Howard, Jimmy Thompson… In 1965 John Neville has been decorated by Order of British Empire, for his whole theatrical, cinematographic and TV career.
But he resigned in 1968 from Nottingham Playhouse in dissension with the Art Council, concerning the weaker budget allocated to the theatre.
His exit had caused a lot of emotion. From a journalist’s stick source, if you watch at the wall near artists’ way in you can read graffiti from end of sixties, proclaiming, “John Neville must stay!”
In the beginning of the 70’s, he discovered Canada and had been seduced as well with the land himself, than with the possibilities it gives to theatre. He became a Canadian citizen and from one to other, artistic manager of the Citadel Theatre (Edmonton, Alberta) from 1975 to 1978, of the Neptune Theatre (Halifax) and then of the Stratford Festival Theatre (Stratford, Ontario) from 1985 to 1989.
In 1990 at last, the actor briefly came back to England to play the part of Sir Peter Teazle in the play The School for Scandal, in National Theatre of London.
Mickael Owen, in his article, published in the Evening Standard on 16th of December 1994 tell us that a critic asked for Neville’s passport to be confiscated to prevent him from leaving England again (No comment !)
Meanwhile, the actor went back in what he calls his Country.
However, he appears on some other parts on stage in England.
On January of the year 1994, in the play The Dance of Death, playing Edgar and in 1998 in his friend Peter Ustinov’s play Beethoven 10th.
On March of the year 1999, he had success in Nottingham Playhouse by casting Krapp in Krapp’s last tape.
John Neville is one of these actors who prove to us that one can lead his career by a thinking and intelligent way and hardly be working, continuously, amusing fans and fun himself.
So, he is a man devoted to his family. He loves his grandchildren, just like the man with manicured hands who, the actor says with pride and humour, is the one who impressed them between all parts he has interpreted in his long career.
Translation by Jean-Paul Cabot.
1. Crime and Punishment (2000) .... Marmeladov
2. Custody of the Heart (2000)….Judge H Chadwick
3. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (2000) .... Bishop George Bell …aka Bonhoeffer - Die Letze Stufe (2000) (Germany)
4. Dinner at Fred's (1999) .... Uncle Henrick
5. Silver Surfer (1999) .... Eternity (voice)
6. Water Damage (1999) .... Jock Beale
7. Duke, The (1999) .... The Duke
8. "Amazon" (1999) (TV Series) .... First Elder Cole ... aka "Peter Benchley's Amazon" (1999) (USA: complete title)
9. The Taste of Sunshine (1999) .... Old Gustave Sonnenschein ... aka Napfény íze, A (2000) (Hungary) ... aka Sunshine - Ein Hauch von Sonnenschein (2000) (Germany)
10. Goodbye Lover (1999) .... Bradley
11. Dinner at Fred's (1999) Uncle Henrick
12. The Duke (1999) The Duke
13. "Silver Surfer, The" (1998) (TV Series) (voice) .... Eternity
14. Water Damage (1999) Jock Beale
15. Urban Legend (1998) .... Dean Adams ... aka Mixed Culture (1998) (USA) ... aka Urban Legends (1998) (USA)
16. X Files, The (1998) .... The Well-Manicured Man … aka Aux Frontières du réel (1998) (France)
17. "Emily of New Moon" (1998) (TV Series) .... Uncle Malcolm
18. Johnny 2.0 (1997) (TV) .... Bosch
19. Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework (1997) .... Shopkeeper
20. Regeneration (1997) .... Dr. Yealand ... aka Behind the Lines (1998) (USA)
21. Fifth Element, The (1997) .... General Staedert ... aka Cinquième élément, Le (1997) (France)
22. Sabotage (1996) .... Follenfant
23. High School High (1996) .... Thaddeus
24. Swann (1996) .... Cruzzi
25. Song Spinner, The (1995) (TV) .... Frilo
26. Dangerous Minds (1995) .... Waiter "X Files, The" (1993) (TV Series) .... The Well-Manicured Man … aka Aux Frontières du réel (1998) (France)
27. Road to Wellville, The (1994) .... Endymion Hart-Jones
28. Little Women (1994) .... Grandpa Lawrence
29. Baby's Day Out (1994) .... Mr. Andrews
30. Dieppe (1993) (TV) .... Gen. Sir Alan Brooke
31. Stark (1993) (TV) .... Lord de Quincy
32. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1993) (TV) .... Dr. Cecil Chambers
33. "By Way of the Stars" (1992) (mini TV Series) .... Professor Billby ... aka "Lange Weg des Lukas B., Der" (1992) (mini) (Germany)
34. Johann's Gift to Christmas (1991) (TV) (voice) .... Viktor
35. "Grand" (1990) TV Series .... Desmond
36. Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The (1988) .... Baron Munchausen ... aka Abenteuer des Baron von Münchhausen, Die (1988) (West Germany)
37. Riel (1979) .... General Wolseley
38. Adventures of Gerard, The (1970) .... Wellington ... aka Adventures of Brigadier Gérard (1970)
39. "First Churchills, The" (1969) (Mini TV Series) .... John Churchill
40. Shaggy Dog (1968) (TV) .... Wilkie
41. Order, The (1967) (TV) ... aka Wednesday Play: The Order (1967) (TV) (UK: series title)
42. Study in Terror, A (1965) .... Sherlock Holmes ... aka Fog (1965)
43. Unearthly Stranger (1963) .... Dr. Mark Davidson ... aka Beyond the Stars (1963)
44. Billy Budd (1962) .... Lieutenant John Ratcliffe
45. Mr. Topaze (1961) .... Roger ... aka I Like Money (1961) (USA)
46. Hamlet (1959) (TV) .... Hamlet
47. Oscar Wilde (1959) .... Lord Alfred Douglas ... aka Forbidden Passion (1959) ... aka Oscar Wilde: The Movie (1959)
48. Life of Henry V, The (1957) (TV) .... Henry V
49. Romeo and Juliet (1955) (TV)…. Romeo
Notable TV guest appearances
1. The Hoop Life (1999)
2. Spoken Art (1997) (TV series)
3. Shirley Holmes (1996) (TV series)
4. "Viper" (1994) (TV series) playing "Leonard Price" in episode: "Thief of Hearts" (episode # 1.12) 3/18/1994
5. ENG (1989-1994) (TV series)
6. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) (TV series) playing "Isaac Newton" in episode: "Descent: Part 1" (episode # 6.26) 6/19/1993 7. "Protectors, The" (1972) in episode: "Triple Cross" 1972