Ronald Pickup, who appeared in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel among more than 150 film, TV and stage credits spanning a half-century, died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 80. His agent confirmed the news to the BBC today.
Pickup played Norman Cousins in John Madden’s 2011 romantic dramedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, sharing a SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel and others. He returned for 2015’s The Second Best Exotic Hotel.
The actor also recurred as the Archbishop of Canterbury in the first season of Netflix’s hit drama The Crown. He also played Neville Chamberlain in 2017’s Darkest Hour, a Best Picture Oscar nominee that also earned Gary Oldman a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Winston Churchill.
Born on June 7, 1940, in Chester, England, Pickup had a few credits in his 20s including playing Don Pedro in the 1967 British telefilm Much Ado About Nothing. He worked sporadically until 1973, when he appeared in The Day of the Jackal and multiple British TV shows. Thus began a long career of mostly supporting roles that including such films as The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Nijinski (1980), Never Say Never Again (1983) — Sean Connery’s final James Bond film — Lolita (1997). He also co-starred in The Mission (1986) and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010).
His numerous TV credits ranged from a 1964 Doctor Who episode to multiple British miniseries and series including Jackanory, Moving and the historical dramas Verdi, Wagner and the title role in 1984’s Einstein. Pickup earned a BAFTA TV nomination for his lead role in 1983’s Waters of the Moon.
More recently, he appeared in the UK series Feather Boy, The Worst Week of My Life, Holby City and Young Dracula, along with guest roles on such popular dramas as Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Midsomer Murders and Coronation Street.
Funeral arrangements and survivors were not disclosed.