The award-winning theatre and film actor Antony Sher has died aged 72 after suffering from cancer, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced on Friday.
South Africa-born Sher was widely considered to be one of Britain's finest contemporary actors, playing almost all the great Shakespearean roles from King Lear to Shylock.
In 1985, he won an Olivier Award for his energetic portrayal of Richard III as a villainous hunchback, propelling himself around the stage on crutches.
He was in several successful movies, including "Shakespeare In Love" and was once described by Prince Charles as his favourite actor.
While at the RSC, Sher met his husband, Gregory Doran, who would become the company's artistic director.
Doran stepped back from his role in September to care for his husband after his condition was diagnosed as terminal.
RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon and Erica Whyman, acting artistic director, said they were "deeply saddened" at Sher's death.
"Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Greg, and with Antony's family and their friends at this devastating time," they said.
"Antony had a long association with the RSC and a hugely celebrated career on stage and screen."
RSC chair Shriti Vadera said the actor was "beloved" in the organization "and touched and enriched the lives of so many people".