Julian Sands had been missing for six months, disappearing back in January into the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains in California where he loved to hike. And now, after months of searching and waning hope, he has finally been found. We must lay those hopes to rest.
Here are two excerpts from Gabriel Byrne’s homage to his friend and colleague, published in The Guardian. Read the entire essay, which is freely available, for the touching and also funny memories, and for a glimpse into the person behind the appealing visage and the artistry.
The Guardian, June 30, 2023
Julian Sands had the heart of a child-man in which scorpions and bluebirds nested
Byrne worked with the late Sands on three films – Gothic, Siesta and All Things to All Men. He remembers a fierce, mysterious and much-loved man, fearless as both actor and adventurer
Excerpt 1: About Gothic, their first film together
He played Shelley in the film, Natasha was Mary and I was Byron. It was a surreal gothic-horror directed by Ken Russell. Nightmare and hallucination, drugs and poetry; the Romantic poets as drugged-up rockstars.
We were told to conjure our deepest, darkest fears and bring them to life. I walked barefoot through a cellar full of squealing rats, and had leeches attached to my naked body. Julian hung upside down from a tree, over a lake. He chased the girls with a plaster death mask over his face.
Ken gave us champagne before a day of particularly gruesome bedroom scenes, his face puce with eczema and ill-humour. Julian held my pretend dead body in his arms, Pieta-like. Shelley was meant to be bereft with sorrow. Julian was desperately trying to turn corpsing laughter into mournful, howling grief.
“For fack’s sake,” said Ken, “stop acting the bollocks, Julian, and kiss him on the facking lips.” “Don’t you dare,” I said, but he did anyway.
Then he bear-hugged me with those powerful arms. The film didn’t receive good notices but it remains one of my fondest memories.
Excerpt 2: About his friend, the climber of mountains
At a time when we treat our planet with arrogant carelessness for its future, it was moving to hear Julian describe his humility before nature. His love and care for the great world we are destroying. He railed against the greed of man but predicted nature would always have the last say.
The mountains were in him: the hidden path, the deception of cloud and mist and rock and shadow. Time and space and distance altered. To leave behind the vagaries of life and career. The failures and success and the judgement of others and the fear it brings.
As a climber, Julian was fearless, though he knew the dangers well enough. He sought the freedom which comes from acceptance that nothing matters beyond the moment, step by slow step to the summit.
In every ascent and descent, he said, there is a learning. Beyond these mountains there are higher, greater ones.
Julian Richard Morley Sands, actor, born 4 January 1958; died circa 13 January 2023
Actor whose blond hair and fine-boned looks saw him cast equally as dandy, devil or – in A Room With a View – heart-throb
The New York Times
Julian Sands Dies at 65; Actor Played Shelley, a Warlock and a King
Over a 40-year screen career, the instantly recognizable Mr. Sands displayed great versatility onscreen. He died while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Washington Post
Julian Sands, wide-ranging British actor, is found dead
The actor, best known for his performance in the Edwardian period piece ‘A Room With a View,’ had gone missing in January while trekking in California
More Tributes and News Reports
Roger Ebert/Peter Sobczynski : Everything Is Fate: Julian Sands (1958-2023)
The Guardian/ Peter Bradshaw
Julian Sands: a hypnotically exotic actor full of style and extravagance
After the smash hit of A Room With a View, Sands’ idiosyncrasies were hard to contain in mainstream movies, but in the right roles he was mesmerising
The Guardian/Charlotte Higgins
Julian Sands in A Room With a View: the soulful heart of a brilliantly romantic film
Sands’ performance in the EM Forster adaptation gave a focus to dreamily tragic teenagers who aspired to a more meaningful existence
The Guardian/Harriet Sherwood
‘It can be chilling’: Julian Sands spoke of seeing human remains on climbs
Actor who died after going on solo hike said in last UK interview he had seen ‘spooky things’ on mountains
The Guardian/Catherine Shoard
‘Outrageous, magnetic and genuinely fearless’: Mike Figgis on Julian Sands
The director worked with his friend Julian Sands on eight films – and one fitness regime. Here he remembers an actor unlike any other: impish, charismatic and unafraid to shock
Buzzfeed/Ken W. Hanley
19 Outstanding Films Starring the Late, Great Julian Sands
In Memory Of The Great Julian Sands, I Went Back To Watch All His Films And Ranked My Favorites–You can celebrate the actor’s life and legacy with these 19 excellent flicks
The Guardian: Julian Sands: A Life in Pictures
The British actor best known for his roles in The Killing Fields, A Room With a View and Boxing Helena has died aged 65 – we look back over his life and work