Stephen Moore was one of the most versatile and reliable actors of his generation. A vital, always intelligent presence on stage, his velvet-soft, Eeyore-like voice attracted a cult following as the droll, self-denigrating paranoid android Marvin in Douglas Adams’ sci-fi comedy hit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
There was considerably more to Brixton, London-born Moore than his long association with the character across four radio series, a television adaptation and audiobooks. A stalwart of the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, he had showed promise at the Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with the Laurence Olivier prize in 1959.
Early seasons at the Old Vic saw him appearing alongside Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in William Congreve’s The Double Dealer (1959), as Friar John to John Stride and Dench’s Romeo and Juliet for Franco Zeffirelli (1960) and as a “dim-witted… yet wholly likeable and plausible” (The Stage) Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night (1962).
After spells in regional theatres and with the Mermaid Theatre, he returned to the Old Vic at the end of the decade, before supporting Ralph Richardson in John Osborne’s West of Suez at the Royal Court in 1971. A growing profile was boosted by Christopher Hampton’s Treats at the Court and the Mayfair Theatre in 1976.
He came into his own with the National and RSC in the 1980s. On the South Bank, he was a memorable Cassio to Paul Scofield’s Othello (1980), an unctuous Grand Inquisitor of Michael Gambon in Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo (1981) and a streetwise Quarlous in Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair (1988).
With the RSC, he earned three Society of West End Theatre Awards (now the Oliviers) nominations in 1982, taking the best actor gong as Torvald opposite Cheryl Campbell’s Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and a Tony award nomination on Broadway as Parolles in Trevor Nunn’s 1983 revival of All’s Well That Ends Well, despite the run lasting less than a month.
Later appearances with the National included more Ibsen – the older Peer Gynt (1990) and the Mayor in An Enemy of the People (1998) – together with an old Cuban freedom fighter in Steven Knight’s President of an Empty Room (2005) and as Roote in what The Stage declared “a masterclass in cut and thrust comedy” in Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse (2007).
There were late commercial touring and West End successes, too, including as Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady, Hector in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, the Dogme film-inspired Festen (Almeida Theatre and Lyric Theatre, 2004), the Peter Hall Company’s 2009 revival of David Storey’s Home at Theatre Royal Bath and Brownlow on tour in Oliver! (2012).
His television credits included Rock Follies, The Queen’s Nose, Mersey Beat, Harry Enfield and Chums, Carla Lane’s Solo and Doctor Who. Notable films included A Bridge Too Far, Clockwise and Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked.
Stephen Vincent Moore was born on December 11, 1937, and died on October 4, at the age of 81. He is survived by five children from three of his four marriages.