5 Essential Edward Woodward Performances
Callan (TV Series 1967-1972/Film 1974)
After years of guest-starring roles, Woodward's first big TV break was in this rule-breaking series about an embittered, broken spy who also serves as the top assassin for British counterintelligence.
It gave Woodward a chance to show his true range.
"On most TV programmes there are one or two things that come up that concern you, things you're asked to do that you don't feel entirely comfortable with, and Callan was no exception, but it was such a well written series, rather than try to change anything, I just tried to rise to the challenge of performing it," he's said of the show.
"Back when it started, we didn't know if the programme was going to work or not. Callan was such an extreme character for the time. But it was a risk that paid off. It gave my career a huge boost, first nationally, then internationally. Really Callan was the key to my whole life and career."
The Wicker Man (1973)
An iconic job, playing uptight, faith-focused Sergeant Howie, the police officer dispatched to track down a missing girl on the mysterious island of Summerisle.
What he finds there are strange rituals, stranger folk songs and a rather nasty end, trapped within the titular wooden structure to be used in an ancient tradition.
The night shoot for when Howie is finally brought to his fiery fate was not the most comfortable for the actor, but he kept his spirits up as ever.
Recalls fellow Wicker performer Ingrid Pitt, "Poor Edward came to me with his bare little feet and his bare little legs and his little... nightie and he said, 'can I put my feet under your skirt as it looks nice and warm!'
I said, 'Edward you won't need to do that because you're going to up into the wicker man and you're going to be nice and warm' And that was that!"
Breaker Morant (1980)
Woodward headed to Australia for this Boer War-set, based-on-truth tale of soldiers used as scape goats to cover up war crimes, who fight back in the court room.
EW plays the titular Morant, one of the troops who ended up inspiring a nation to rethink the events, even at the cost of their own lives.
While he won the role over some other actors to help the movie's international appeal, he still gave it his all, and he approved of the result.
"I think without doubt that it was one of the greatest films that has come out of Australia," Woodward said in 1983, "and I think history will show that it is probably one of the greatest small films - and I don't denigrate it by saying that - that has ever been made."
"I never felt in Breaker Morant that there was any anti-British sentiment. I thought there was a tremendous amount of anti-war sentiment. I thought there was a tremendous amount of anti-stupidity sentiment.
"But Australians and British and Americans and Chinese are all capable of being stupid and it was a film about man's inhumanity to man, and the stupidity of war."
The Equalizer (TV, 1985-1989)
His big post-Broadway success in the States came with this private eye drama.
Woodward starred as Robert McCall, better known as The Equalizer, who can solve any problem thanks to his contacts across New York.
For Woodward, however, it paid well but didn't exactly leave him healthy - he took up smoking and ended up with a heart attack.
"It was interesting – not fun. I loved New York and living there. It was a great crew and lots of great actors came through but our hours were so long.
"Some times I’d be up at six in the morning, I'd work out with a personal trainer and then start shooting at 7.30am. We filmed mostly on the streets so it was 25 and below in the winter and 95 plus in the summer so it was pretty uncomfortable.
"The hours were so long – some times I’d get back at 11 or 12 at night and some times later."
Hot Fuzz (2007)
While he still has A Congregation Of Ghosts still in post-production, chances are film fans will still remember his turn as Tom Weaver in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's cop comedy as his last great turn.
He brings plenty of bubbling frustration to the part of one of the villagers who maintain the peace and quiet of Sandford by murdering anyone who gets in their way.
Having the star of The Wicker Man was a real treat for self-proclaimed fans Pegg, Wright and Nick Frost, who scheduled "anecdote time" for Woodward to regale them with stories in the makeup trailer.
"He’s a real raconteur," Pegg said at the time. "He’s just a star. We were very pleased with this. He actually turned down a cameo in The Wicker Man remake – probably exactly the right thing to do.
"But he did Hot Fuzz, which is essentially, at the heart of it, inspired by that film. The Wicker Man was the last film that had a British uniformed police officer at its center."