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Ken Russell people

Russell regulars

The people Ken Russell uses time and again.

Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed in The Devils

Reed was a Hammer Horror star, his most famous role with them being The Werewolf. Reed says Russell rescued him from B-movies and his roles with Russell are stunning, from the early Monitor TV work (playing Debussy, Rossetti etc) to Women in Love, Tommy, The Devils and Prisoners of Honor. He makes guest appearances in Mahler and Lisztomania (playing Strauss). For his role, Gladiator, he earned a million dollars. Starring roles he turned down were Jaws and The Sting, and he was a candidate to replace Sean Connery as James Bond.

Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson

A highly gifted actress, both on the stage and in the cinema (she is a double Oscar winner). She was a government minister in Britain's Labour cabinet (and she was my local MP!!). She appeared in The Music Lovers and Women in Love, and made an uncredited but significant appearance in The Boy Friend. Later she appeared in Salome's Last Dance and The Rainbow. She had virtually no acting experience when Russell first used her.

Glenda Jackson in Salomes Last Dance

Imogen Claire

Imogen Claire

The actress plays small roles in many Ken Russell films: Georges Sand in Lisztomania, the singer in Prisoners of Honor as well as Lair of the White Worm, Salome, The Rainbow (where she was also responsible for the choreography) and the Clouds of Glory tv films. She has also worked on stage, for example in Steven Berkoff´s Salome.  She died in 2005.

Max Adrian

Max Adrian in Ken Russell Song of Summer Delius

Best known as the dying Delius in Song of Summer. His other roles with Russell included The Music Lovers, The Devils and The Boyfriend. Born in Northern Ireland he died in 1973. Other work included under Olivier in Henry V and the stage musical Candide by Bernstein. He appeared in the stage version of The Devils 10 years before Russell filmed it.

Max Adrian

Adrian attacking Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto in The Music Lovers.

Judith Paris

Judith Paris in Ken Russell Dante's Inferno - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

She has worked with Russell from the 1960s onwards. She appeared in Dante's Inferno (above), The Devils, Savage Messiah, The Rainbow, Prisoners of Honor and Lady Chatterley. In Ken's Isadora she plays the young Isadora Duncan with some impressive dancing (below).  She wrote and starred in a play about Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya which Russell directed.  I met her, she is a very nice modest person.


Christopher Gable

Christopher Gable Ken Russell Song of Summer Delius

A ballet dancer he was due to play the dancer Nijinsky but the film collapsed. Russell later brought him in as Eric Fenby, the un-dancer like youth in Song of Summer. Gable has also played in Women in Love, The Boyfriend, The Music Lovers, The Lair of the White Worm and The Rainbow. Even though he had genuine acting abilities, he remained a dancer and built up a distinguished career. He recently died of cancer.

Murray Melvin

Murray Melvin

Murray Melvin has acted for Ken Russell for 30 years. He started in British theatre and television, including Shelagh Delaney's groundbreaking play A Taste of Honey and then Tony Richardson's film adaptation- Ken Russell did a documentary about Delaney.  His early television with Russell included Diary of a Nobody and Isadora Duncan, then the films The Devils, The Boyfriend, Lisztomania and the late television Clouds of Glory and Prisoners of Honor. His other work includes his best role, the clergyman in Kubrick´s Barry Lyndon. I was fortunate enough to meet him, a friendly, open and intelligent person.  Someone asked him how old he was- he said 29 and he said he would continue to say that until he decided to move to 30.  He said he and other regular actors call themselves the "Ken Russell Repertory Company".

Graham Armitage

George Armitage

Acted in The Music Lovers, The Boyfriend and most spectacularly as Louis XIII in The Devils. His career continued outside films when he visited South Africa and stayed there, establishing himself as a theatre director. He died in 1999.

Georgina Hale

Ken Russell Mahler Alma Mahler  Georgina Hale

A British actress playing Fay in The Boyfriend, Mahler's wife Alma in Mahler (left), Phillipa in The Devils (right) and guest appearances in Lisztomania and Valentino. Other films include playing a nun in Roeg´s Castaway alongside Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe.

Andrew Faulds

Ken Russell Dante's Inferno - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Acted in Russell's early Dante's Inferno (above as William Morris) and later on The Devils, The Music Lovers, Mahler (below as the doctor) and Lisztomania. He later became a Labour member of the British parliament, a colleague of Glenda Jackson. He died in 2000.

Ken Russell Mahler Andrew Faulds

Christopher Logue

Christopher Logue

A long standing but occasional actor for Ken from television in Dante's Inferno through to The Devils where he was memorable as the cardinal, to Prisoners of Honor. As Ken's request he wrote the screenplay for Savage Messiah, Ken's most autobiographical film. He had not written professionally before- similar to Ken's use of amateurs in acting roles.

 "Christopher Logue was born in 1926 in Hampshire, and was educated in Bath.  He was associated with the British Poetry Revival, and also wrote for theatre and screen, including the screenplays Savage Messiah and The End of Arthur's Marriage. He was a regular contributor to Private Eye and to Merlin literary journal. From 1951-1956 he lived in Paris, then returned to England, publishing poetry and writing plays for the Royal Court Theatre. In the 1950s he began a contemporary version of Homer's Iliad, an ongoing project which resulted in several full-length books of poetry" (British Council, Literature click here).  He did in 2011.

Vladek Sheybal


Vladek Sheybal The Boyfriend

Polish born refugee and concentration camp survivor Vladek built up an acting career in television, in particular the UFO series, and films including From Russia with Love where Connery requested him personally. For Ken he was in The Debussy Film playing the director, Billion Dollar Brain (below), Women in Love and The Boyfriend (above). He died in 1992.

You can read more on Vladek on the site here.

Kenneth Colley

Kenneth Colley in Ken Russell The Music Lovers

Colley's best role is Modeste, the brother of Tchaikovsky in The Music Lovers (above). He also played Legrand in The Devils, Chopin in Lisztomania and Dreyfus in Prisoners of Honor (below). Other Russell films include Mahler, The Rainbow and Arnold Bax. He also played Jesus in Life of Brian and Admiral Piett in two of the Star Wars films.

Kenneth Colley in Ken Russell Prisoner of Honour

Ben Aris

A stage and film actor. His films include The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (as Southey), Savage Messiah, The Music Lovers, Tommy (as the Reverend Simpson) and Lady Chatterley. His theatre roles include Alan Bennett's West End play Lady in the Van.

Robert Powell

Roberft Powell as Mahler

Powell's early career began in 1970 with the BBC series Doomwatch playing Toby Wren.  This early X-files type drama changed the bounds of television drama when Toby, the most popular character, did not succeed in defusing a bomb but died in the explosion.  Never again could you assume the hero was immune.  He then appeared in the cult horror film The Asphyx.  Powell's classic period included Mahler, a guest role in Tommy, and the highly praised television Jesus of Nazareth.  He married Top of the Pops dancer Babs from Pans People.

Linzi Drew 

Ken Russell Aria head

A porn star and Page 3 girl, Drew appeared as a stripper in Russell's ABC of British Music, then in three Russell films, most memorably starring in Aria, plus minor roles in Salome and Lair.  In American Werewolf in London she is the star of the porn film showing when the final werewolf transformation takes place in a cinema. She was imprisoned for selling porn, was an editor of Penthouse magazine and has written her autobiography, which has some interesting short sections on the Russell films.

Stratford John

Stratford Johns and Glenda Jackson in Salome 

Born in South Africa but Johns found fame on British television in the 60s and 70s in the BBC police series Z Cars playing Detective Barlow. The series was so popular it spawned, like Star Trek, two other series in parallel, with Johns prominent in them all. He appeared in Salome's Last Dance as Herod lusting after his daughter Salome, a remarkable performance. In Lair he disappointingly has a bit role as the butler.

Dennis Barker (The Guardian 31 Jan 2002) says “At the beginning of the first episode, Stratford Johns was shown at the graveside of a murdered colleague, swapping flip and cynical comments about life, death and police work… Stratford Johns looked and sounded as if he would cheerfully bully, blackmail and cajole if he had to…"

In his later years, with the British film industry going through a lean phase and his own waistline and jawline becoming too flabby for hard-faced cops, the parts open to him became fewer. He featured in one of the more unconsciously funny horror films, Ken Russell's The Lair Of The White Worm (1988), in which the characters screamed and shouted when what was obviously a large white plastic balloon appeared. He also played an actor playing Herod in Russell's epicene version of the Salome story, Salome's Last Dance (1988), set in a Wildean brothel. He tended now to be typecast unkindly in degenerate parts.”

Stratford Johns

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