Actor Michael Sheen unveils plaque at Richard Burton’s Hampstead home
As a Hollywood actor, it was Richard Burton’s love affairs and party lifestyle that mesmerised his audience as much as the roles he landed.
But it was an altogether quieter chapter of his life that took centre stage when fellow Welsh actor Michael Sheen unveiled a blue plaque at Mr Burton’s former Hampstead home.
Fresh from his sell out Hamlet debut at the Young Vic - a role Mr Burton played at the theatre’s older cousin the Old Vic in the 1950’s - Mr Sheen said he was “honoured” to unveil the plaque in Lyndhurst Road.
Mr Sheen, who is best known for his film roles as David Frost in Frost/Nixon and Tony Blair in The Deal, said: “Having grown up near where Richard came from, I have been hugely influenced by watching his work growing up.
“It is a great honour to do anything that is in any way connected with Richard Burton.”
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Commenting on Mr Burton’s performance as Hamlet, he added: “I think one of the things about Hamlet is that no matter who plays it, you can only bring yourself to it. I know his Hamlet very well.
“His Hamlet had a real muscularity to it. When you listen to any of his Hamlet you get the sense of what is possible in the part, rather than trying to emulate it.”
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Mr Burton, one of England’s most celebrated Shakespearean actors, lived at the home from 1949 to 1956, with his then wife Sybil Williams, an actress he met on the set of The Last Days Of Dolwyn.
English Heritage historians said these years were some of the happiest of the actor’s life, as the time was when he was making the transition from stage actor to international star, landing roles in Desert Rats and my Cousin Rachel.
Nadine Shenton, an actress who now lives at the address, said: “I was delighted to hear that Richard Burton lived here.
“He was so iconic and really moved acting on. I think for me he started to really learn how to use the crowd and how to draw the camera lens to him.
“Burton and Elizabeth Taylor both had this mesmerising process of drawing you in.
“I was intrigued to know if Elizabeth Taylor ever popped in, and did Richard want her more or the bourbon.”
He left the home in 1956, and moved to Switzerland.