Michael’s death was registered in the London Borough of Camden.
He died on Wednesday 2nd December 1992.

He was described as “Actor and Therapist.”

An inquest, held on the 5th January 1993, concluded:
“Cause of death is Hanging
Took his own life on account of his illness.”

An article in the Hampstead and Highgate local paper said that “the inquest was told that he had been receiving treatment for depression.”
Angharad 24 was lucky enough to hear from Xavier, a friend of Michael’s, who got to know him pretty well during the late eighties.

Xavier and the others in his group – all now professional musicians – were about 20 years younger than Michael. Michael was very happy to find a younger generation so interested in jazz and blues, and they became friends. He seemed to enjoy the company of younger people, and they enjoyed his.

Michael was a really very nice bloke, who was generous and open most of the time. He was not at all egotistical; rather Xavier thought him self-effacing, and burdened by self-doubt, which probably had a detrimental effect on his career.

When they first met, Xavier had never heard of him, and was only told that he had been in films such as “For Your Eyes Only” and “The Devils” by the others. Michael never spoke much about his films, and didn’t name-drop, though he had acted with some of the best-known actors of the century. He did express frustration at being offered ‘hit-man’ roles, and hoped he would be given a chance to get out of them, but said, ‘nobody wanted me.’

Xavier felt sure that playing a part well meant more to Michael than money or fame.

He loved music and just wanted to learn more. He played saxophone and drums well, but even in music, Mike would have moments where he would say “Oh, I’m no good at this.” Xavier thought he was self-taught, because he would ask for help with reading difficult music.

The whole group loved “Some Like it Hot”, and Michael thought that Marilyn Monroe was a great actress.

He had around three different girlfriends in the years 1989 – 92. He said he wouldn’t have minded marriage but did not want children. Unfortunately, most of the girls he’d been with had wanted them. He liked children, but had no ‘paternal feelings.’

Once, a young female punk walked into the bar where they were meeting, and drank out of a bottle. Michael asked why women thought they had to dress up and behave like men to get liberated, and said these young women didn’t know they were born! His grandmother and mother had lived very hard lives, but they came through it and bettered themselves while retaining their femininity. “My mother always made sure that she dressed nicely and kept her appearance and femininity throughout” (or words to that effect). Nevertheless, Xavier thought Michael was definitely in favour of equality.

Michael had a fierce hatred of Thatcher. He was a champion of the working classes, and Xavier thinks he would have voted Labour.

Xavier and the others knew of Michael’s depression. He told them he could go for weeks on end just not wanting to join the rest of the world, and that at one time he’d had to drop out of a project in the early stages, because he just couldn’t force himself to go to the studio. He also said that making and listening to music soothed him.

Xavier was out of the country and hadn’t seen Michael for about a year when he heard of his death. The whole group were very upset.
N.B., a former girlfriend of Michael’s, was kind enough to talk to me, and answer some questions. Here is what she told me:

I was amazed at hearing about your project. I am sure Michael would have been even more surprised to find people still honouring his work as an actor some twenty years later. He wouldn't feel he was worth the trouble.

How/where did I meet Michael

I got to know Michael on a crisp spring Sunday morning in 1984 in the “brasserie Dome”1 in Hampstead. He sat there having his cappuccino and reading the Sunday paper. I was having breakfast with a friend of mine. I was living in London as an au-pair, and so was my friend; we cherished our fee day away from the family where we lived and worked.

My friend knew Michael, because he had taken her out for dinner some weeks previously and she said hello to him across the tables. She pointed out who he was and I immediately recognised him thanks to his glasses. They were the ones he wore in the Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.”
Read more... )
Walking along Shirlock Road, I had a chance meeting with a lady who turned out to be a friend, and former neighbour of Michael Gothard’s. I introduced myself as a fan.

She said Michael was “a really nice guy”, and that she'd had no idea, until after his death, that he’d suffered from depression.

She remembered when he and M.T. got married, though she did not think any official ceremony had taken place.

In correspondence, she said:

“As far as I remember (and please be aware that my memories are vague, and may not be accurate!) he moved in shortly after us, in 1978.

One certain memory I have is of him telling me that psychotherapy was not a science, and that made it inexact; he appeared to have little time for it.

This conversation was held next door, when he was briefly seeing my (now late) great friend, Ann Sachs.

He did always appear morose, although courteous and pleasant. He was nice to my two children … they were very young at the time.

He definitely became much happier and more communicative after he got together with M.T. She was a beautiful person in every way. We all liked her. In fact, he asked me to a sort-of post-wedding party in his house, and it was very jolly.

Then I'm afraid my memory goes blank.

I became aware that they split up, and M.T. moved away.1 Shortly after (I really don't know how long), he committed suicide. I only found out some time (weeks) later, and felt very sad. I had no idea he was so unhappy."


1 From the electoral rolls, this would seem to have been around 1990.
You may recognise him as a screen and television star. But Jerry Bauer talks to the real Michael Gothard.

The Three Musketeers, the film Michael Gothard is making, is set in Estudios Roma, the film centre outside Madrid. The temperature is close to a hundred, although one tried not to think about it.

“The Three Musketeers and I seem to have an affinity for each other. In this film version I portray Felton, the lover of Madame de Winter – Faye Dunaway but on television, I was Madame de Winter’s son in yet another dramatisation. Presumably, I was chosen by Richard Lester for this role because he’d seen me as the inquisitioner in The Devils. Both characters are repressed, violent and mad.”
Read more... )
At a fan meeting in August 2010, Oliver Tobias spoke about the filming of “Arthur of the Britons.”

“Out of the blue, a memory which I had closed away … it’s quite emotional …”

When asked about the casting, he said that his and Michael Gothard’s audition consisted of them, and 4 horses – they had to ride various horses to the top of the hill and back together a number of times. Obviously the chemistry between them was an important factor, as well as horsemanship.

“They cast us for who we were at the time. We were allowed complete freedom as … how we were.”

He said that they improvised a lot of the action, and they weren’t given any direction on how to deliver any of their lines.

He remembered filming as having taken a year, though in reality it must have been closer to eight months. “We [Oliver Tobias, Michael Gothard and Jack Watson] more or less lived on set.”

During ‘The Challenge’, the third-filmed episode, in which Arthur (Oliver Tobias) and Kai (Michael Gothard) spend at least half of the episode fighting each other, they worked with Bristol’s champion javelin thrower on the spear-throwing scene.

Oliver thought he was young and athletic enough to jump out of the way in time, but he didn’t make it. The spear glanced off the inside of his shield instead of the outside, and hit him on the back of the head. “When it hit me it was like a ship running aground.”

He remembers looking around, and seeing Michael. Later he said Michael held his head in his lap. “Christ I’m lucky to be here – I nearly died during filming …”

He is said to have thought of Michael like a brother. He and Michael used to play tricks on each other, and to try and pile up mounds of earth to stand on, so they would be taller than the other. Oliver said that the stories were so harsh, they needed an outlet. The series was “like a war zone.”

However, he also said that of all his roles, he identifies most with Arthur.

When dedicating a tree to Michael Gothard, Oliver said: “He was a sensitive man – perhaps too sensitive,” and spoke of remembering Michael holding his head on his lap when the spear had hit him, and he nearly died. He also mentioned Jack Watson. He said he felt privileged to be the one left alive. Then, clearly affected, he drove the commemorative stake into the ground with considerable force.

Oliver’s brother, Benedict, who had once met Michael, (before ‘Arthur of the Britons’) and performed a Cheyenne ceremony at the site, said that Michael didn’t have the filters you need, to stop yourself feeling all the suffering going on in the world – “otherwise you give yourself the bullet.”

Though Oliver had gradually lost touch with Michael Gothard after filming the series, it seems likely that Michael’s death was the reason he had closed away the memory of ‘Arthur of the Britons.’
“The Further Adventures of the Musketeers” was a BBC drama series, based on Alexander Dumas' "Twenty Years After."

The sixteen episodes were broadcast on BBC1, at 5:25 pm on Sundays.

Michael Gothard appeared in ten of the sixteen episodes.

He plays Mordaunt, formerly John Francis de Winter, the vengeful son of the executed enemy of the Musketeers, Milady de Winter.

Episodes in which Michael appeared, with the introductory quotation from the Radio Times:

3. Conspiracy (4 June 1967)
“I see a man, a Royal Prince, defying bolts, bars, and fortress walls. I see him free … two days from now. At seven o’clock.”

4. Conflict (11 June 1967)
“The King’s name is no password here. To the sword, sir!”

5. Peril (18 June 1967)
“There is only one man in France I would trust with these secrets. You must destroy these papers … or die.”

6. Abduction (25 June 1967)
“People like us, madam, must not trust even our own two hands.”

7. The Boy King (2 July 1967)
“Monsieur D’Artagnan, you are under arrest. The King has vanished.”

9. Escape (16 July 1967)
“Your Majesty, I promise that anyone who has the audacity to touch you will die.”

10. The Oath (23 July 1967)
“You cannot live without me, my love. I am your star, your protector, your husband. We will make this true before God.”

11. The Trial (30 July 1967)
“Never doubt me again, Athos. I vow to take upon myself all that concerns the delivery of the King.”

12. The Scaffold (6 August 1967)
“We are about to separate before the most desperate adventure of our lives – the most glorious! We shall not fail.”

13. Treachery (13 August 1967)
“Athos, you are becoming imbecile. Do you realise our situation? It is kill or be killed.”

Brian Blessed's memories

This was the first of three productions on which Michael Gothard worked with Brian Blessed, who played Porthos in "The Further Adventures of the Musketeers." (The other productions were "The Last Valley", and "Arthur of the Britons.")

I met Brian in 2011, and showed Brian some pictures of fans dedicating a tree to Michael. Brian didn’t even know Michael had died. I told him he’d killed himself in 1992. He became serious, and said that he was sorry. It was hardly surprising he missed the news, given how little coverage it got at the time.

He said that Michael was depressed when he knew him. Michael used to say, “Oh, Brian, I don’t know if I’ll make it as an actor. No one seems to like me,1” and he had a lot of bad luck – some bloke he’d paid to decorate his house left the job half-finished.

Brian mentioned working with Michael on the “Further Adventures of the Musketeers.” He said: “We killed him in the end.”

1 It was not clear to me whether Michael thought no one seemed to like him professionally, or personally, though the former seems more likely.

Series availability

Brian Blessed seemed to think that “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”, was available on DVD but he must have been confusing it with the previous BBC series, which is.

I have made enquiries about the series.
Lisa Kerrigan at the BFI Curatorial Unit informed me that the series: "does exist on film in the BBC Archive. Due to copyright restrictions any DVD release of this title would have to be licensed or produced by the BBC as the series was a BBC production."

Joss Ackland, who appeared as D'Artagnan in this series, later played D'Artagnan's father in "The Three Musketeers," in which Michael Gothard played John Felton.

Excerpts from reviews on IMDB:

“This TV version of the Dumas novels was made during the golden age of the BBC Sunday teatime classic serial, and I still have fond memories of it forty years later. Like its predecessor, 'The Three Musketeers', the whole thing was played straight and not as a jokey camp fest like so many of the movie versions.
It is actually a very good story, and if played straight with outstanding actors as was the case in this BBC version, can make for thrilling and at times moving drama. Let's hope that the original tapes are still lodged safely in the BBC vaults and have not been wiped, since this is a true classic.”

mkb-8

~~

“This fine 1967 series is a sequel to the fine faithful BBC 1966 version of The Three Musketeers. Has most of the same cast as 1966 Three Musketeers except that Joss Ackland took over for Jeremy Brett as D'Artagnan. Michael Gothard does an excellent job as Mordaunt né John de Winter the vengeful son of Milady de Winter.

Michael Gothard always is cast as a villain or a fool in movies. Joss Akland I don't think could ever give a bad performance. Fine performances by both actors.

Faithful this version sure is.”

FromBookstoFilm

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