Rod Taylor, the Australian born actor who became a star playing H G Wells in The Time Machine and closed his career playing Winston Churchill in Inglourious Basterds, died on Wednesday from a heart attack. He was just four days short of his 85th birthday.
The Time Machine was the first science fiction movie I saw, in thrilling black and white, as the Sunday night movie. Taylor stayed closer to home chronologically speaking when he played a James Bond-like character in The Liquidator. Bond-like in that Boysie Oakes didn’t have the stomach to carry out the assassinations his superior demanded. His solution? Well, these days we’d call it ‘outsourcing’.
The best line Taylor delivered wasn’t in a film; it was during an interview on Australian television in the 1970s. He was promoting his new series The Oregon Trail on The Don Lane Show. Lane was an American expat, and at some point in the interview Rod Taylor said ‘We’re just a couple of phonies, Don. You’re a phony Australian and I’m a phony Yank!’
Taylor’s career was varied rather than stellar. Nevertheless, he worked steadily in his chosen profession for close on sixty years and delivered a few performances that won’t be quickly forgotten. For a local boy he didn’t do too badly.