Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Charleson attended the Royal High School and then went on to attend the University of Edinburgh. He initially studied architecture but switched to an MA degree after cultivating an interest in acting. After graduating from Edinburgh he won a place at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His best-known role was as the athlete Eric Liddell in the film Chariots of Fire (1981). Other notable film appearances were his in his film debut Jubilee (1977) and in Gandhi (1982).
Charleson, who was gay, died of AIDS. The Ian Charleson Awards have been presented annually since 1991 to reward the best classical stage performances in Britain by actors aged under 30. He died while playing Hamlet in Richard Eyre's production at the Olivier Theatre. Sir Ian McKellen said that Charleson played Hamlet so well it was as if he had rehearsed the role all his life.
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