Peter Vaughan, a British character actor whose doughy features made him adept at playing villains and avuncular figures alike and who gained recent attention as the enigmatic blind scholar Maester Aemon on the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” died Dec. 6 in England. He was 93.
His agent, Sally Long-Innes, confirmed the death but did not provide the cause.
Mr. Vaughan’s face — if not his name — was familiar to generations of television viewers in Britain and around the world. His best-known roles included criminal Harry Grout in the 1970s prison sitcom “Porridge.”
Peter Ewart Ohm was born in Wem, England, on April 4, 1923, and he grew up in Wellington. After Army service in Normandy, Belgium and the Far East, he returned to a budding career in repertory theaters. His breakthrough was in the 1964 original West End staging of Joe Orton’s convention-flouting comedy “Entertaining Mr. Sloane.”
That same year, Mr. Vaughan had a rare leading screen role, playing an insurance investigator in the 1964 mystery “Smokescreen.” Mostly he thrived in supporting parts, often sinister roles like a menacing butler in “Die! Die! My Darling!” (1965), starring Tallulah Bankhead, and a thug in the smuggling drama “A Twist of Sand” (1968) featuring Richard Johnson and Honor Blackman.
Mr. Vaughan also played a British spy in “The Naked Runner” (1967), opposite Frank Sinatra, and had notable parts in Sam Peckinpah’s violent “Straw Dogs” (1971) and director Karel Reisz’s “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (1981). Filmmaker Terry Gilliam cast him as Winston the Ogre in “Time Bandits” (1981) and as an information minister in the futuristic “Brazil” (1985). One of his most poignant turns was as the aged and infirm butler (and father of Anthony Hopkins’s head butler) who suffers a humiliating end to his career in “The Remains of the Day” (1993).
Mr. Vaughan was a fixture on BBC radio and TV costume dramas; he also played an aging Labour Party leader with dementia in the nine-part televised drama “Our Friends in the North” (1996). He gained particular renown onstage for playing hardened men, including a racist juror in a production of “Twelve Angry Men,” directed by playwright Harold Pinter. His vast range included plays by Anton Chekhov, Arthur Miller and Alan Ayckbourn, seldom in heroic parts.
“In terms of the parts I played,” Mr. Vaughan once said, “I think my face had more to do with it. Clearly I wasn’t ever going to play romantic leads.”
His first marriage, to actress Billie Whitelaw, a mainstay of Samuel Beckett plays, ended in divorce. He later married actress Lillias Walker. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Read more Washington Post obituaries