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David Hemmings

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David Hemmings (18 November 1941 – 3 December 2003) was an English film actor and director, whose most famous role was the photographer in Blowup. In his later acting career, he was known for his distinctive eyebrows and gravelly voice.

Born in Guildford, Surrey, his education at Alleyn’s School led him to start his career performing as a boy soprano in several works by Benjamin Britten, who formed a close friendship with him at this time. Most notably, he created the role of Miles in the opera Turn of the Screw. Hemmings’ intimate, yet innocent, relationship with Britten is described in John Bridcut’s Britten’s Children. Although many commentators identified Britten’s relationship with Hemmings as based on an infatuation, throughout his life Hemmings maintained categorically that Britten’s conduct with him was beyond reproach at all times.

Hemmings then moved on to acting and directing in the cinema. He made his first film appearance in The Rainbow Jacket (1954), but it was in the mid-sixties that he first became well known as a pin-up and film star. Antonioni, who detested the “Method” way of acting, sought to find a fresh young face for the lead in his next production, Blowup. It was then that he found Hemmings, at the time acting in small stage theatre in London. Following Blowup, Hemmings appeared in a string of major British films, including Camelot (1967), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Alfred the Great (1969) (in which he played the title role).

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