I was saddened to learn that John Neville, the actor well known in science fiction and fantasy circles as Terry Gilliam’s Baron Munchausen and Chris Carter’s Well Manicured Man from the X-Files, passed away over the weekend. I found his acting to be an inspiration and model to me as I was growing up.
I first enjoyed John Neville’s acting in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen shortly after it first appeared on cable tv. My grandparents had cable, so I was able to catch up on movies when I visited them on the weekends. I must have watched it a dozen times.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen demonstrates how ambiguous truth and fiction can be in a world full of horror and death. Furthermore, it establishes the necessity of imagination to overcome the harsh reality. I admired Munchausen’s ability to lift people’s spirits, inspire his compatriots, and fend off ever-present Death. My idealistic self wants to be just like Baron Munchausen.
Later, Neville stood out on The X-Files in the role of the Well Manicured Man, a powerful associate of the Cigarette Smoking Man (played by William B. Davis). His character combined a proper demeanor with brooding confidence. My cynical self wants to mimic Neville’s portrayal of this calculating character.
Read his obituary in The New York Times here.