When he passed away this year at the age of 106, Norman Lloyd had amassed a remarkable, wide-ranging career in films, television and theater. On the big screen he’s best remembered as a familiar character actor with decades of roles under his belt, including a long-running association in front of and behind the camera with Alfred Hitchcock that led to a TV career as a producer and director. Here we look back at just a few choice movie roles among many singular credits.
We covered this one a while ago in our Michelle Pfeiffer spotlight, but there’s no way to leave this one off Lloyd’s as well since he gets a juicy role as Mr. Letterblair, the cut-and-dry boss of lawyer Daniel Day-Lewis amid the emotional minefield of high society in 19th-century New York. This would be Lloyd’s only acting role for director Martin Scorsese, and he certainly made it count.
Also known under the title Reign of Terror, Anthony Mann’s ultra-stylish and fast-paced thriller earns its place in the history books as the only film noir classic set during the French Revolution. Lloyd gets a substantial role here as Tallien, part of a chain of shadowy figures involved in a race against time to acquire a dangerous book of intended assassination targets created by the notorious would-be dictator Robespierre.
One of the screen’s most enduring tributes to the power of teaching and an Oscar winner for Original Screenplay, this film features not only a career-changing lead performance by Robin Williams but a roster of young and seasoned talent supporting him as well. Among them is Lloyd as the headmaster of Welton Academy, a 1950s prep school that becomes a testing ground for the minds of its young students.
The dramedy gifts of Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz shine in Curtis Hanson’s look at two sisters’ fraught relationship with their grandmother, with Diaz getting to share some touching moments with Lloyd as a blind English professor who teaches her the joys of poetry.
The most beloved of Charlie Chaplin’s latter-day masterpieces is a bittersweet tale of a faded comedian (Chaplin) whose life is changed by a young self-destructive dancer (played by Claire Bloom), with Lloyd portraying Bodalink, a role he got through a fortuitous tennis game as related when Lloyd himself stopped by the Academy in 2012.
Hitchcock gave Lloyd what would become his most famous role, as a nefarious Nazi spy involved in a plan to upend American stability in the early days of World War II with a string of high-profile sabotage attacks. Lloyd features prominently in the nail-biting finale atop the Statue of Liberty, a jolting sequence that still packs a punch today.
Lloyd acted for Hitchcock again three years later in this stylish thriller about psychiatrist Ingrid Bergman’s questionable relationship with patient Gregory Peck, who might be responsible for murdering the head of a sanitarium. Legendary for its Salvador Dalí-designed dream sequence, the film features Lloyd as one of the patients who perfectly embodies the idea of a guilt complex.
Lloyd’s final acting role came at the age of 99 in this rowdy comedy written by and starring Amy Schumer, which raised the eyebrows of Lloyd’s daughter when she got a look at it. Thanks to director Judd Apatow, this marked Lloyd’s only excursion into comedy improvisation.