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Rest in Peace, Roy

The world became a little poorer this week. Roy Dotrice has died. He was ninety-four.

Roy first took up acting in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, and went on to become one of the giants of British stage and screen, decorated by the Queen. He set a record for his one-man play BRIEF LIVES, and performed the key role of Mozart's father in the film of AMADEUS, among a hundred other credits. He was a supremely gifted actor.

He was also my friend. He lived in the United Kingdom and I lived in New Mexico, so we did not see each other often, but whenever we did get together, it was a delight. I will always treasure the memory of the dinner I shared with Roy and his wife Kay (who passed away a few years ago) at his club, the Garrick, a centuries-old haunt of the legends of the British stage. That was a truly amazing evening. The last time I saw Roy was in Los Angeles, however, at the party his daughter threw him on the occasion of his 90th birthday.



Many of the news stories about Roy's death identified him as a GAME OF THRONES cast member. He was that, of course. He played the pyromancer Hallyne in two episodes during our second season... and, as with everything he did, he played him wonderfully.



Truth be told, Roy might have had a much larger role in the series. When we first cast the show, he was our choice to play Grand Maester Pycelle, and I have no doubt that he would have been magnificent in that role. Sadly, health problems forced him to bow out. Julian Glover stepped up and performed admirably in his stead, but sometimes I still wonder at what might have been.

Roy's association with GAME OF THRONES runs far deeper than the television series. He was also the reader of the audiobooks of all five volumes of the series... though calling him a "reader" does not truly reflect his work. Roy performed those books. He gave every character his (or her) own distinctive voice, despite the fact that there were hundreds of them. So many, in fact, that the Guinness Book of World Records recognized him for voicing the most characters in an audibook for his work on A GAME OF THRONES, a record he still holds today (though actually I suspect he broke it himself for his readings of the later books).

I loved what Roy did on the audiobooks. He did not just read my words aloud, he brought them to life, in a way few actors could. And the fans agreed. Roy did the audiobooks for A GAME OF THRONES, A CLASH OF KINGS, and A STORM OF SWORDS, to great acclaim. When it was time to record A FEAST FOR CROWS, however, he was unavailable. Off doing a play in Birmingham, I was told. So my publishers used another reader. But the fans were having none of it. After the audiobook of FEAST was released, Random House received so many complaints that they had no choice but to go back and re-record the book with Roy, and release a second version. So of course when it was time to tape A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, there was never any question as to who would read it.

With Roy gone, I have no idea who will can possibly get to do the audiobooks for THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING. But whoever it is, they will have a hard, hard act to follow.

For all the great work he did on A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, my own memories of Roy Dotrice go back earlier, to the three years we worked together on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST for CBS. Great memories, for me; that was a wonderful show, and a joy to work on. We had an amazing team of writers, and of course a terrific cast, with the likes of Jay Acovone, Linda Hamilton, Jo Anderson, the incredible Ron Perlman... and Roy, of course, as Father. It was an honor and a privilege to write for him.



Those years on B&B meant a lot to Roy as well. Just last month, he posted a farewell messages to all the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans around the world. You can find it on YouTube:



Such a fine actor. Such a sweet man.

Everyone who knew him is sad today.

Comments

( 37 comments )
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missmatchedeyes
Oct. 18th, 2017 12:50 am (UTC)
I’ll never forget hearing him read, “Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.” What a performance! He will be so very missed.
Chris Huggins
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:04 am (UTC)
What a loss
This really hit home. Whilst I read all the books the first time around, all previous 'readings' (and there are more than I can count) were listening to Roy's performance whilst on the way to (or even at) work. The passion he had for these book is palpable.

A remarkable man, who had an incredible life story and even though I never had to pleasure to meet him, I felt genuine sadness at his passing.
ADragonDemands
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:07 am (UTC)
So it goes
So it goes.
Infinity Lamp
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:25 am (UTC)
Best Shagga Voice
I am sad too. I really enjoyed his Shagga voice. Thanks for the tribute George. I think the only person who might be able to step into his shoes is Jim Dale.
Tanmay Kulkarni
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:55 am (UTC)
I am sadness
I have feared his passing ever since I finished listening to his ADWD. I even asked you here on your blog last year if Roy would record WINDS when it came out. You said it would all depend on Roy's schedule :(

Believe it or not, I have spent more than 1000 hours listening to Roy narrate asoiaf. In the bus, while retiring at night and countless other occasions. In fact, when I remember a character, I remember the Roy-version of it and not the Tv show version. I still listen to him almost every single day.

The fact that he won't be narrating the final two books makes me sad beyond anything I can express in words. It's like losing my grandfather all over again. RIP Mr. Dotrice, I will miss you a lot.
Matthew Taylor
Oct. 18th, 2017 02:46 am (UTC)
Memories of Mr. Dotrice
In this moment of incalculable loss, I recall Mr. Dotrice's immaculate reading of the Red Wedding, and the final words from that chapter: "Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold." The way he delivered those words was epic. I hope Roy's passing was gentle and peaceful, unlike Catelyn's sad fate. Listening to Roy's performance, I gained a deeper appreciation for the profundity of George's writing.
Another sequence that will stick with me forever is Septon Meribald's Broken Man soliloquy, which podcaster Abe Proctor (A Pod of Casts) has called "the beating heart of A Song of Ice and Fire." Mr. Dotrice really nailed that one, too.
A last bit, for levity: all things Dolorous Edd. I just adore that character, and Roy brought him to life with all his dark humor.
I've now listened to the books 3 times, so I've spent roughly 600 hours with him. Roy, I will miss you.
tourmalina
Oct. 18th, 2017 03:07 am (UTC)
Beauty and the Beast
<3 I loved that show. In art school I painted a portrait of Linda Hamilton and it won an award. RIP.
msconduct
Oct. 18th, 2017 04:22 am (UTC)
I know him mostly for his audiobook work, at which he truly excelled. He will be greatly missed.
ina
Oct. 18th, 2017 05:23 am (UTC)
I was able to meet him (and his lovely wife Kay) back in the BatB time at conventions and when he was in Germany for our convention did some sightseeing with them and he was such a lovely, warm and immensely funny person. These are a very fond memories for me.

Thank you for your lovely tribute.

Edited at 2017-10-18 05:24 am (UTC)
Peter Davies
Oct. 18th, 2017 11:22 am (UTC)
This man leaves a gap in the acting world that no-one can fill. Words cannot really do justice to his achievements. The man who took up acting as a way of surviving one day at a time in a prisoner of war camp, and went on to become one of the most venerated theatre actors of the last century.

Rest in peace, Roy - you will be VERY sadly missed!
Dan Koifman
Oct. 18th, 2017 11:34 am (UTC)
The loss of Roy Dotrice really hit home for me. I think about him half a dozen times a day now. What a full life he lived and how many world records he has broken.

I am on my eighth listen of the series now, that's coming onto 1,000 hours of hearing Roy's many voices in my head. After so much time together, it feels like losing an old friend.

He is irreplaceable. The only thing that could come close to as you put it rightly, his performance, is a cast recording with multiple readers.

Edited at 2017-10-18 11:35 am (UTC)
leprechaun
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:53 pm (UTC)
RIP

What a great tribute.
Tony Vance
Oct. 18th, 2017 01:57 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard to know how many people that are part of the related productions of your works are personal friends. I will say I have been a lover of audiobooks for many, many years, and his wonderful performance hooked me to your series in a unique way. He was very gifted, and he will be missed.
Edward Patch
Oct. 18th, 2017 03:14 pm (UTC)
Audiobook Narrator
Tim Curry! His work on A Series of Unfortunate Events Audiobooks was magnificent! He would fit the ASOIAF role so well!

RIP Roy Dotrice, you will be missed.
TheMadGiggler
Oct. 18th, 2017 03:27 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss
I am very sad to hear this. I absolutely adored his performance of the audiobooks. He will be missed.
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