Chariots of Fire actor Ben Cross dies aged 72

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The English stage and screen actor, whose credits also include 2009’s Star Trek reboot and First Knight, died in Vienna from illness

Benjamin Lee –  The  Guardian

Ben Cross in 2009. Photograph: Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Ben Cross, star of stage and screen, has died at the age of 72.

The actor, best known for his role in Oscar-winning drama Chariots of Fire, died in Vienna from an unspecified illness according to his daughter who confirmed the news on Facebook.

“I am utterly heartbroken to share with you that my darling father died a few hours ago,” she wrote. “He had been sick for a while but there was a rapid decline over the past week.”

After graduating from Rada (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), Cross made the move from stage to screen in 1977’s A Bridge Too Far alongside Sean Connery and Michael Caine, in a role he later described as a “glorified extra”. In the same year he also became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company before gaining fame playing Billy Flynn in Chicago.

This then led to a leading role of Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire, the story of British athletes at the 1924 Olympics, a film he didn’t think of “going beyond the English shores”. It became a hit in the US and went on to win the Oscar for best picture.

“A film like that it is professionally life-changing,” he said in 2012. “Suddenly, you get offered lots of work, which is lovely. But since then I have done 80 or 90 projects, none of which have been in any way as successful.”

In the years since, he starred alongside Richard Gere in First Knight, played Sarek in the 2009 reboot of Star Trek and played Prince Charles in William & Kate: The Movie. He also released a number of singles, including Name It, You Got it.

Cross also has a number of projects yet to be released, including the Netflix romance Last Letter to Your Lover with Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones and the supernatural horror The Devil’s Light with Virginia Madsen.

He is survived by his wife, Deyana Boneva Cross, and two children, Theo and Lauren.

 

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