John Neville, Shakespearean Actor Turned Science Fiction and Fantasy Star, Is Dead

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.

Published by Jason W Ellis

I am an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.