Colin George Blakely (23 September 1930 – 7 May 1987) was a Northern Irish character actor. He was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for the Academy Award-nominated film Equus.
Born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, Blakely attended Sedbergh School in Yorkshire. At 18 he started work in his family's sports goods shop, before going on to work as a timber-loader on the railways. In 1957, after a spell of amateur dramatics with the Bangor Operatic Society, he turned professional with the Group Theatre, Belfast.
In 1957, at the age of 27, Blakely made his stage debut as Dick McCardle in Master of the House. He also appeared in several Ulster Group Theatre productions, including Gerard McLarnon's Bonefire (1958) and Patricia O'Connor's A Sparrow Falls (1959). From 1957 to 1959 he was at the Royal Court Theatre, appearing in Cock-A-Doodle Dandy, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance and, to critical approval, The Naming of Murderers Rock. In 1961, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and from 1963 to 1968 was with the National Theatre at the Old Vic.
In 1969, Blakely's controversial role as Jesus Christ in Dennis Potter's Son of Man gained him wide recognition. From that time onwards, he was a regular on British television, and in the same year played the leading role in a BBC adaptation of Trollope's The Way We Live Now.
Among the many stage plays in which he appeared were The Recruiting Officer, Saint Joan, Royal Hunt of the Sun, Filumena, Volpone and Oedipus. He returned to the Royal Shakespeare in 1972 in Harold Pinter's Old Times and was subsequently in many West End plays.
Film roles included Maurice Braithwaite in This Sporting Life (1963), Vahlin in The Long Ships, Dr. Watson to Robert Stephens's Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), and Joseph Stalin in Jack Gold's Red Monarch (1983). In the 1975 British film, It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet, derived from the James Herriot books, Blakely played the eccentric Siegfried Farnon. He also appeared in A Man for All Seasons (1966), Young Winston (1972), The National Health (1973), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Equus (1977), The Dogs of War (1980), Nijinsky (1980) and Evil Under the Sun (1982).
A noted Shakespearean actor, Blakely appeared on television as Antony in Antony and Cleopatra (1981), directed by Jonathan Miller as part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series; and as Kent in the 1983 Granada Television version of King Lear which starred Laurence Olivier. Other television appearances included Loophole (1981), Red Monarch (1983), The Beiderbecke Affair (1985), Operation Julie (1985) and Paradise Postponed (1986).
Blakely was married to British actress Margaret Whiting for 26 years and had three sons, including twins. He died of leukaemia at the peak of his career, aged 56.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) - Loudmouth
The Hellions (1961) - Matthew Billings
The Password Is Courage (1962) - 1st German Goon
This Sporting Life (1963) - Maurice Braithwaite
The Informers (1963) - Charlie Ruskin
The Long Ships (1964) - Rhykka
Never Put It in Writing (1964) - Oscar
The Counterfeit Constable (1964) - L'aveugle
A Man for All Seasons (1966) - Matthew
The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966) - Russian Premier
Charlie Bubbles (1967) - Smokey Pickles
The Day the Fish Came Out (1967) - The Pilot
The Vengeance of She (1968) - George
Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher (1968) - Solomon Philbrick
Alfred the Great (1969) - Asher
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) - Dr. Watson
Something to Hide (1972) - Blagdon
Young Winston (1972) - Butcher
The National Health (1973) - Edward Loach
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) - Hardman
Galileo (1975) - Priuli
It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1975) - Siegfried Farnon
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) - Inspector Alec Drummond
Equus (1977) - Frank Strang
The Big Sleep (1978) - Harry Jones
Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979) - Tamil
Nijinsky (1980) - Vassili
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) - Silas Hobbs
The Dogs of War (1980) - North
Loophole (1981) - Gardner
Nailed (1981) - Elder Protestant
Evil Under the Sun (1982) - Sir Horace Blatt
Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) - Section Director Alec Drummond (uncredited)