In Remembrance: Pat Roach
Pat Roach, the former British professional wrestler turned stuntman and actor has passed away on Saturday July 17, 2004. He was 67.
Born on May 19, 1937 in Birmingham, England, the son of a scrap merchant, Roach earned a black belt in Judo by the age of 22. He began wrestling at fairgrounds, working his way up to eventually capturing British and European heavyweight wrestling titles.
He segued into acting in 1971 when Stanley Kubrick cast him as a Cuban bouncer in A Clockwork Orange. He worked with Kubrick again on 1976's Barry Lyndon, this time playing a bare-knuckles boxer who faces off against Ryan O'Neal.
At 6-foot 5inches tall, Roach found roles hard to come by. He auditioned for director George Lucas for the role of Darth Vader in 1977's Star Wars, but lost out to David Prowse. Lucas remembered the actor and brought him to Steven Spielberg's attention when the two collaborated on 1981's Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Roach found himself winning two roles in the movie- the first as a large Sherpa who attacks Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in a Nepalese bar early in the film and then more famously as a bald Nazi airplane mechanic with whom Indy fist fights while dodging an airplanes whirling propellers. His work lead Spielberg to cast him in small roles in the series’ other two installments, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989).
Lucas would also bring Roach to another film he produced, Willow (1988), where he played the villainous General Kael, a role that allowed him to be not only an imposing physical presence but to have a few moments acting opposite Jean Marsh's Queen Bavmorda.
Roach appeared opposite another screen hero in 1983's Never Say Never Again as an assassin out to kill Sean Connery's James Bond in a rather brutal fight in a health club. He also appeared in such films as Clash Of The Titans (1981), Conan The Destroyer (1984), Red Sonja (19985), The Return Of The Musketeers (1989), The Big Man (1990), Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991) as Little John, The Portrait Of A Lady (1996) and Kull The Conqueror (1997).
He was also well known in England for his work as Brian "Bomber" Busbridge on the comedy series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, which dealt with a gang of bricklayers.
In 2002 he published If- The Pat Roach Story, the first of two memoirs. His second volume, Pat Roach's Birmingham, was published earlier this year. Both were co-written with Shirley Thompson. He also owned and operated his own fitness centre in his hometown of Birmingham.