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What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed

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For the first time Oliver Reed's close family has collaborated on a project about Reed himself, revealing a complex man behind the facade, a person of great passions and loyalties underscored by deep-rooted vulnerabilities and insecurities. With never-heard-before anecdotes and new interviews with Reed's family, friends and peers, What Fresh Lunacy Is This? is a revealing For the first time Oliver Reed's close family has collaborated on a project about Reed himself, revealing a complex man behind the facade, a person of great passions and loyalties underscored by deep-rooted vulnerabilities and insecurities. With never-heard-before anecdotes and new interviews with Reed's family, friends and peers, What Fresh Lunacy Is This? is a revealing examination of his mould-breaking personality.


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For the first time Oliver Reed's close family has collaborated on a project about Reed himself, revealing a complex man behind the facade, a person of great passions and loyalties underscored by deep-rooted vulnerabilities and insecurities. With never-heard-before anecdotes and new interviews with Reed's family, friends and peers, What Fresh Lunacy Is This? is a revealing For the first time Oliver Reed's close family has collaborated on a project about Reed himself, revealing a complex man behind the facade, a person of great passions and loyalties underscored by deep-rooted vulnerabilities and insecurities. With never-heard-before anecdotes and new interviews with Reed's family, friends and peers, What Fresh Lunacy Is This? is a revealing examination of his mould-breaking personality.

30 review for What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I got a headache just reading the insane antics of this man! But seriously, I kept thinking that he must not have caught wind of the remarks made by people who were saying how much they adored and admired him when he was NOT drinking. It's sad to think of how much richer his life and relationships would have been if he had realized that he did not need to hide his true nature behind drink. If he was shy, he should have played up on this instead of seeing this as a negative. If he had, I know tha I got a headache just reading the insane antics of this man! But seriously, I kept thinking that he must not have caught wind of the remarks made by people who were saying how much they adored and admired him when he was NOT drinking. It's sad to think of how much richer his life and relationships would have been if he had realized that he did not need to hide his true nature behind drink. If he was shy, he should have played up on this instead of seeing this as a negative. If he had, I know that people (especially woman) would have found this very attractive in him. Strangely enough, alcohol didn't appear to be an addiction for Oliver, but rather, something he felt he needed, simply to face people. I was baffled as to why he had such an incorrect perception of himself, his self worth and his intelligence. He really had so much going for him. His stamina was incredible. But unfortunately, it finally ran out.

  2. 4 out of 5

    F.R.

    Listened to on Audible and it was quite a dispiriting experience actually. Oliver gets drunk and does something dreadful, but he only drinks out of shyness and his heart is in the right place. Film producers won’t hire him, but that’s their fault for not having the balls. Oh look, there’s Oliver doing something horrible while drunk again, but you can’t be mad at him as it was all done with childlike glee. I’ve come out of the experience really glad I was never in the same pub as the man. Clearly Listened to on Audible and it was quite a dispiriting experience actually. Oliver gets drunk and does something dreadful, but he only drinks out of shyness and his heart is in the right place. Film producers won’t hire him, but that’s their fault for not having the balls. Oh look, there’s Oliver doing something horrible while drunk again, but you can’t be mad at him as it was all done with childlike glee. I’ve come out of the experience really glad I was never in the same pub as the man. Clearly he inspired great love and affection in his friends and family, but reading about him (hearing about him) was like having a whole obnoxious rugby team rolled into one barrel chested, belligerent man.

  3. 4 out of 5

    GoldGato

    Ahhh, Oliver Reed. The only pure film star (no stage experience) produced by Great Britain. Unlike Caine and Connery, he refused to abandon the British film industry to pile up the millions. He turned down JAWS and THE STING because he didn't want to live in Los Angeles. "I'm a Brit". True Blue and as David Bowie's son has noted, England's alpha male. After a blistering start in the 1960s and 1970s, Reed's film career ebbed away, as he became the Ultimate Lad and let alcohol destroy his image. Ol Ahhh, Oliver Reed. The only pure film star (no stage experience) produced by Great Britain. Unlike Caine and Connery, he refused to abandon the British film industry to pile up the millions. He turned down JAWS and THE STING because he didn't want to live in Los Angeles. "I'm a Brit". True Blue and as David Bowie's son has noted, England's alpha male. After a blistering start in the 1960s and 1970s, Reed's film career ebbed away, as he became the Ultimate Lad and let alcohol destroy his image. Oliver became Ollie. As Robert Sellers explains in this bio, he was a binge drinker who drank to build his confidence due to his devastating shyness, apparently resulting from a difficult childhood. The lucid, magnetic Jekyll would then become the frightening, out-of-control Hyde when he went too far. Sellers has written several books on celebrities, but this is his most enjoyable. He has interviewed Reed's family and ex-wives/girlfriends to get behind the image he produced for the public. The stories had me laughing and cringing, sometimes together. Whether he was stopping in the middle of an Irish rural road to pick up a stray dog, diving into a Madrid fishtank to munch on carrots carved like goldfish, or buying homes for homeless people, Oliver Reed was unique. He really did make the air move. Book Season = Summer (with some strawberries and cream)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Bridgeman

    Superb,if a little longwinded...having read the graphic novel Hellraisers and the biographt by the same author, an authorised bio of my favourite actor, Oliver Reed was a must read. Was there anything his autobiography or 'Evil Spirits', an unauthorised bio, or gossip/legend hadn't revealed be covered in a toe breaking 500 page book? The answer is oh yes, there are more stories....with the backign and help of most of Reed's family and associates this is a lovingly crafted book that manages to tr Superb,if a little longwinded...having read the graphic novel Hellraisers and the biographt by the same author, an authorised bio of my favourite actor, Oliver Reed was a must read. Was there anything his autobiography or 'Evil Spirits', an unauthorised bio, or gossip/legend hadn't revealed be covered in a toe breaking 500 page book? The answer is oh yes, there are more stories....with the backign and help of most of Reed's family and associates this is a lovingly crafted book that manages to treat it's subject with respect but not reverence, does not condone his bad behaviour but lays out the facts of Reed's life and career for the reader to judge for themselves. They just don't make stars like this anymore...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris Coulthard

    A very enjoyable read about one of our true eccentrics. A gentleman, a quintessential Englishman, a madman, a bully, a man of the people. An underrated actor who could have been up there with the very best, if only he could control his dark side. They don't make them like Ollie anymore and some would say thank goodness for that. Not me though. For sure there isn't room for too many Ollies, but give me Ollie any day over today's homogenised, politically correct bunch. Oliver Reed, I salute you si A very enjoyable read about one of our true eccentrics. A gentleman, a quintessential Englishman, a madman, a bully, a man of the people. An underrated actor who could have been up there with the very best, if only he could control his dark side. They don't make them like Ollie anymore and some would say thank goodness for that. Not me though. For sure there isn't room for too many Ollies, but give me Ollie any day over today's homogenised, politically correct bunch. Oliver Reed, I salute you sir.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob Thompson

    Robert Oliver Reed (13 February 1938 – 2 May 1999) was an English actor known for his upper-middle class, macho image, hellraiser lifestyle, and "tough guy" roles. Notable films include The Trap (1966), playing Bill Sikes in the Best Picture Oscar winner Oliver! (1968), Women in Love (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), The Devils (1971), portraying Athos in The Three Musketeers (1973), Tommy (1975), Lion of the Desert (1981), Castaway (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and Funny Bones Robert Oliver Reed (13 February 1938 – 2 May 1999) was an English actor known for his upper-middle class, macho image, hellraiser lifestyle, and "tough guy" roles. Notable films include The Trap (1966), playing Bill Sikes in the Best Picture Oscar winner Oliver! (1968), Women in Love (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), The Devils (1971), portraying Athos in The Three Musketeers (1973), Tommy (1975), Lion of the Desert (1981), Castaway (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and Funny Bones (1995). At the peak of his career, in 1971, British exhibitors voted Reed 5th most popular star at the box office. An alcoholic, Reed's issues with drink were well publicised. He had the dubious distinction to be described by Bette Davis as: ‘possibly one of the most loathsome human beings I have ever had the misfortune of meeting’ Sellers has written several books on celebrities, but this is his most enjoyable. He has interviewed Reed's family and ex-wives/girlfriends to get behind the image he produced for the public. The book contains numerous anecdotes exist, such as Reed and 36 friends of his drinking in one evening: 60 gallons of beer, 32 bottles of scotch, 17 bottles of gin, four crates of wine, and a bottle of Babycham. He subsequently revised the story, claiming he drank 106 pints of beer on a two-day binge before marrying Josephine Burge: 'The event that was reported actually took place during an arm-wrestling competition in Guernsey about 15 years ago, it was highly exaggerated.' Steve McQueen told the story that in 1973 he flew to the UK to discuss a film project with Reed and suggested the two men visit a London nightclub. They ended up on a marathon pub crawl during which Reed got so drunk he vomited on McQueen. Reed became a close friend and drinking partner of The Who's drummer Keith Moon in 1974 while working together on the film version of Tommy. With their reckless lifestyles Reed and Moon had much in common, and both cited the hard drinking actor Robert Newton as a role model. Christopher Lee, a friend and colleague of Reed, commented on his alcoholism in 2014: 'when he started, after [drink] number eight, he became a complete monster. It was awful to see.' All in all an enjoyable read about a great of British cinema, Oliver Reed. Simultaneously a gentleman, an alcoholic, an eccentric, a bully, a misogynist, and an underrated actor. A man who found it impossible to control his inner demons. What is interesting are the comments made by people who were saying how much they adored and admired Ollie when he was sober. It's sad to think of how much more he could have made of life and relationships if he didn’t hide his true nature behind drink. Should the reader be amused by his sometimes violent ‘pranks’. I’m not so sure. The book is fairly repetitive and reminded me of White Line Fever in some ways. A monotonous cycle: Ollie made a movie, done a bunch of crazy stuff while intoxicated, then made another movie. In between his drinking spiralled out of control, the people around him suffered, and his health declined. Perhaps we could have got more depth from his family, friends and acquaintances? If you know little of Ollie you'll be shocked, appalled and bored by his tiresome behaviour without the depth of insight this biography needed to balance it. However, even after years of abuse for playing Antonius Proximo, an old, gruff gladiator trainer in Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000) in what was his final film, Reed was posthumously nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He was perhaps the last hellraiser of his generation and they don't make them like Ollie anymore. And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing? RIP, Ollie.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    It was the title of What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed which drew me to the book. That, and it was some kind of deal, and I've always quite liked Oliver Reed on screen. It's fairly interesting but also a bit wearisome. Reed himself sounds like a nightmare. Ocassionally charming but more often than not a selfish, womanising (when young), bullying, drunken bore. His only leisure pursuit was going to the pub with a bunch of cronies. A great actor but an appalling hum It was the title of What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorized Biography of Oliver Reed which drew me to the book. That, and it was some kind of deal, and I've always quite liked Oliver Reed on screen. It's fairly interesting but also a bit wearisome. Reed himself sounds like a nightmare. Ocassionally charming but more often than not a selfish, womanising (when young), bullying, drunken bore. His only leisure pursuit was going to the pub with a bunch of cronies. A great actor but an appalling human being. As time went by his drinking got worse. A boorish unpleasant man when drunk although, as the reader is regularly reminded, he could be charming when sober. Amazingly even at his most dysfunctional he was still able to turn in some powerful performances and could, when he wanted, stay sober for protracted periods of filming. Unsurprisingly he was dead by age 61, having collapsed during a binge, and poised to possibly ressurect his career with his performance in Gladiator. 3/5

  8. 5 out of 5

    DR LUKE

    This is a fun book packed with lots of stories from Oliver's life. There is a bit of a pattern to the tales though: charming man, drinks too much, not so nice, still manages to be on set in good time the next morning. This is a fun book packed with lots of stories from Oliver's life. There is a bit of a pattern to the tales though: charming man, drinks too much, not so nice, still manages to be on set in good time the next morning.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Despite too many available bios of hell-raising drunk actors from the U.K. (and Reed has already appeared in three) at least here the writing is exciting rather than exploitative; less sycophantic and dumb as Reed's sycophantic, dumb companions at the pub. The chronology of Reed's adventurous, alcoholic and oftentimes cruel life is fresh as it jumps around to include anecdotes from decade to decade. All the "players" in his life, including teenaged 3rd wife Josephine Burge, are vividly captured. Despite too many available bios of hell-raising drunk actors from the U.K. (and Reed has already appeared in three) at least here the writing is exciting rather than exploitative; less sycophantic and dumb as Reed's sycophantic, dumb companions at the pub. The chronology of Reed's adventurous, alcoholic and oftentimes cruel life is fresh as it jumps around to include anecdotes from decade to decade. All the "players" in his life, including teenaged 3rd wife Josephine Burge, are vividly captured. Most welcome is the psychological material behind Reed's barroom brawls, escapades and all-out destruction of property worthy of several rock bands. And this excludes the company of one-man-warpath Keith Moon. Reed's behavior is examined intelligently. The absence of hero-worship makes for a sincere portrait, and it becomes obvious (but not piously so) that Reed suffered from terrific demons of low self-esteem, dyslexia, chronic states of boredom, and a pathological hatred of elitism. This despite a military career and being the nephew of Sir Carol Reed. Besides his love of alcohol and hell-raising, he often fell victim to a noxious public. Too many ingratiating enablers like Reed's posturing stuntman-gangster-wannabe Reg Prince celebrated and encouraged Reed's self-destruction. All the more reason to applaud the actor tossing Prince off a balcony and almost breaking his back. Overall a complex biography and an insightful look at what made Reed's brand of dangerous personality and immense screen presence so effective--and, in the end, so tragic. The book's enormous amount of stories documenting Reed terrifying villagers and Hollywood bigshots alike is worth the purchase.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicola

    Lunacy indeed. I'd rate Ollie's life an incredible 5 star but this biography although it has the voices of those around him during this lunacy didn't delve further and took at face value the reason for his antics. Wanted more depth and got bored of the continual drinking and carrying on - which I'm sure family and friends and acquaintances did too. Reminded me of The Dirt - the lunacy of the life of the members of the rock group Motley Crue. I was fond of Oliver Reed as a child and we likened ou Lunacy indeed. I'd rate Ollie's life an incredible 5 star but this biography although it has the voices of those around him during this lunacy didn't delve further and took at face value the reason for his antics. Wanted more depth and got bored of the continual drinking and carrying on - which I'm sure family and friends and acquaintances did too. Reminded me of The Dirt - the lunacy of the life of the members of the rock group Motley Crue. I was fond of Oliver Reed as a child and we likened our lunatic "bomb" of a younger brother to him (thankfully he hasn't become an alcoholic) and strangely he found peace living in the part of Ireland that we as a family originate from and claim our "lunacy" comes from. I wanted to know more about his drivers and couldn't understand why his behaviour was accepted - is this what those involved with alcoholics, addicts do? Some comparative of the wild living of other contemporary actors such as Burton, Harris, O'Toole in the 60s and 70s would have enhanced the understanding of his behaviour and allowed for exploration of why he choose to remain so true to his hell raising and some of the others changed lifestyles to live longer. Interesting read. However if you know nothing of Reed you'll be shocked and appalled and bored by the tiresomeness of his behaviour without the depth of insight this biography needed to balance it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laurent

    I'd read "Hellraisers" by the same author on the infamous offstage antics of Mssrs Burton, Harris, O'Toole (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) and Reed which was very entertaining stuff. Unfortunately, this follow-up concentrating only on Oliver Reed just doesn't have enough diverse material to fill an entire book. As with many rockstar's biographies (Reed was a film star, but the lifestyle was pretty similar), the beginning, rise of the protagonist is by far the most interesting part. After that, it I'd read "Hellraisers" by the same author on the infamous offstage antics of Mssrs Burton, Harris, O'Toole (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) and Reed which was very entertaining stuff. Unfortunately, this follow-up concentrating only on Oliver Reed just doesn't have enough diverse material to fill an entire book. As with many rockstar's biographies (Reed was a film star, but the lifestyle was pretty similar), the beginning, rise of the protagonist is by far the most interesting part. After that, it's a succession of anecdotes about Oliver Reed drinking and fighting. Every single one pretty much is punctuated by an ex-colleague saying "but the thing was that when the cameras rolled, he was completely professional". The word "professional" is used about 1000 times in this book. The fact is though that Oliver Reed comes through, to me certainly, as a complete bloody menace, a bit of a thug, a massive misogynist. That's not of course incompatible with being a great actor. To me, he is Athos in the Three Musketeers, a film that I can watch over and over again. In fact, I have. As to his last performance as Proximo in Gladiator, it may have been great, I don't know, I don't rate that revenge romp very much at all (I know, controversial view there). One for serious Oliver Reed fans only I'm afraid. Read Hellraisers instead.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian Smith

    WHAT FRESH LUNACY IS THIS? By Robert Sellers This is the authorized biography of an actor called Oliver Reed. Ollie, as just about everyone knew him, was a complex character. One of his complexions is that he may well have been one of the greatest actors of all time; he also may well have been the most drunk person on the planet for much of his time alive. Hence the title and it describes the whole scenario well. While sober, his manners were exemplary, but at a certain stage of imbibing, and tha WHAT FRESH LUNACY IS THIS? By Robert Sellers This is the authorized biography of an actor called Oliver Reed. Ollie, as just about everyone knew him, was a complex character. One of his complexions is that he may well have been one of the greatest actors of all time; he also may well have been the most drunk person on the planet for much of his time alive. Hence the title and it describes the whole scenario well. While sober, his manners were exemplary, but at a certain stage of imbibing, and that was well past what normal human beings would describe as drunk, he digressed in a manner that put him at odds with most rationally thinking people. Just when you think he’s done just about all the crazy things possible in a hotel, Ollie would come up with something else. He was like a drunken rugby team on sabbatical only he was the whole team. Swinging on a chandelier was passé, breaking things normal. The analogy of the football team is not without some other truth because rugby was his favourite game and he always liked drinking with the common man. This seemingly would stem back to his childhood when he was an undiagnosed dyslexic and learning was a problem. When he later got into acting however, his extraordinary memory came into play and he could memorise not only his own part but the entire script. His demeanour on the set also meant he could turn his hand to any part if given the chance. He could turn up to act three sheets to the wind but, when it came to performing, he would instantly appear sober and turn in a faultless performance. However, his, at times lunatic, stunts, will leave you shaking your head at how he and his friends survived. Because the book is derived from many sources there are differing viewpoints of what transpired in his life. I thought I would quickly tire of reading about his episodes in hotels but nay, the more I read the fascinating it became. The story of what he did at Broome Hall, his residence for some time, could have been a book on its own. The renovation he undertook was extraordinary. Another aspect to his life was his relationships with women. Understandably, it took a certain personality to deal with being woken up at all hours of the night upon his return from wherever and his parenting skills left a lot to be desired on occasions. Quotes from some of his partners and his children are quite illuminating. Whatever you can say about Ollie, neither he nor the book could ever be accused of being boring, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it as an entertaining read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nisha-Anne

    Bloody Aquarians. I love us but reading this gave me a glimpse of just how maddeningly complex we seem to erryone else, far more than apparently is to be expected of people in general. All the professional people in this told the same damned story so that got quite frustrating and tedious. As a result, I became far more interested in what family and his partners had to say, all those people who bore witness to the private non-performing moments and also who bore the brunt of an alcoholic as paren Bloody Aquarians. I love us but reading this gave me a glimpse of just how maddeningly complex we seem to erryone else, far more than apparently is to be expected of people in general. All the professional people in this told the same damned story so that got quite frustrating and tedious. As a result, I became far more interested in what family and his partners had to say, all those people who bore witness to the private non-performing moments and also who bore the brunt of an alcoholic as parent and relative. I liked how balanced those views were, especially his kids being so honest about the disappointment and inconsistency and cruelty and periods of distancing themselves from him. That balanced with the truly adorable magical moments made their contributions the most valuable to me. Having said that, the professional stuff about his film techniques and precision really startled and gratified me. It’s one thing as a viewer to like an actor, it’s an entirely other thing to read what his peers thought of his technical skills rather than some organic ineffable quality. I spent the first half of this in some amusement and feeling like review revulsion of the book and himself spoke to a certain puritanism on the part of the reviewers, but also feeling that same unease in myself as the child of two addicts. The second half of the book though definitely had me in the same revulsion but tinged with so much dismay and sadness for what promise was lost. When I was at uni in Canberra, I discovered the National Library had a copy of his autobiography. You weren’t allowed to borrow it out, so I spent at least two days there reading it. Even back then, newly introduced by my studies to masculinity as a performance and a construct, I saw right through his outlandish statements of misogyny and violence. I’m glad this biography goes into that aspect of his performative masculinity even if the father explanations offered seem a bit weak. And though I’m dismayed at his very real sexism and incidents of outright sexual harassment, I’m glad that was fully addressed by both the narrative and the interviewees. I love the shy side to his personality, the erudition, the gardening and love of a naturalistic landscape, the homebody aspect, the unquestioning generosity, the loyalty. The loss of his sex drive really astonished me and puts such a different spin on that final troubling marriage. I did have a startling thought at one point: if I was a man and of his build, I would probably be just as reckless. Aquarians. You’ll never pin us down.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim Lockwood

    So, there's a guy in a pub and he's banging on about his drunken exploits and - you know - the first one is pretty funny. Then he carries on. The second tale, like the first, is really crazy and funny. Then he reels off another. Then another. Still crazy but the effect it diminishing. Then he goes on. And on. And that is the issue I have with this book; the repetition of the drunken anecdotes about Oliver Reed become as tiresome as a pub bore. However, if it's a greatest hits of Reed's inebriate So, there's a guy in a pub and he's banging on about his drunken exploits and - you know - the first one is pretty funny. Then he carries on. The second tale, like the first, is really crazy and funny. Then he reels off another. Then another. Still crazy but the effect it diminishing. Then he goes on. And on. And that is the issue I have with this book; the repetition of the drunken anecdotes about Oliver Reed become as tiresome as a pub bore. However, if it's a greatest hits of Reed's inebriated hi-jinks that you want to read about then there will be much to enjoy here. Also, by the time you've read one actor/director after another commenting on his professionalism, hitting his marks, not being drunk on set and turning in a great performance then you might come to the sad conclusion that Reed was probably a functioning alcoholic. The book is reasonably well written. The best parts are on his childhood and life before Reed became an actor. Also, his death is sensitively conveyed. I just wish Sellers had spent more time on his films. For example he suggests that The Brood is one of Reed's most important films then goes on to only write a single page on it. There are no excerpts from contemporary film reviews that might have given some indication of his critical ascension. I suppose this would have got in the way of another boozy yarn and might have entailed getting down to a bit of serious secondary research. Finally, I know that opinions aren't facts but Sellers' suggestion - when writing about the film Tommy - that Pete Townshend was 'the John Lennon of The Who' really did need some comment from his editor. With 18000 characters left I could demolish that barely considered throwaway line. Contact me if you'd like to read it some time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Hare

    Robert Sellers excels yet again as biographer to the flawed geniuses of yesteryear. The topic this time is Oliver Reed a man who lived to excess, was married, had children and was a multi-millionaire several times over, but some of the 9-5 minimum wagers like myself will all suggest he threw his life and talent away. Well, I personally think he did what he wanted to do, lived his life on his terms and had many friends for company. Fair play! Sellers tells us of the upbringing of Reed with a mothe Robert Sellers excels yet again as biographer to the flawed geniuses of yesteryear. The topic this time is Oliver Reed a man who lived to excess, was married, had children and was a multi-millionaire several times over, but some of the 9-5 minimum wagers like myself will all suggest he threw his life and talent away. Well, I personally think he did what he wanted to do, lived his life on his terms and had many friends for company. Fair play! Sellers tells us of the upbringing of Reed with a mother he hated and had no relationship with to a father who seems incapable of loving his son. Not ideal. As he progresses through his cinematic career, there are highlights but a lot of budget mediocre movies in there too. All the while Oliver Reed was still a "name" for movie financial backers to cling to. For a man renowned for being an alcoholic, the truth seems far from this. A man who could go without drink on a whim for months, a man who never drank alone and was only ever drinking in a social arena. Reed was a truly interesting character undeniably flawed, but never boring and always a gentleman (when sober). Enjoyed the book; as I have done with Sellers previous works.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richie Garner

    This is quite simply an outstanding account of the late, great ‘Oli.’ Be it in his best time or his worst, his life in front of the camera and at home is laid out for us all. There is so much in this book to entertain, it really is a gem. It demonstrates the portrait of an enigmatic man shrouded in contradiction. A man who is capable of such a wide range of different moods and impulsive actions. There are so many emotions stirred by this book which really does well to make you appreciate just how im This is quite simply an outstanding account of the late, great ‘Oli.’ Be it in his best time or his worst, his life in front of the camera and at home is laid out for us all. There is so much in this book to entertain, it really is a gem. It demonstrates the portrait of an enigmatic man shrouded in contradiction. A man who is capable of such a wide range of different moods and impulsive actions. There are so many emotions stirred by this book which really does well to make you appreciate just how impossibly difficult he must have been to read for all of those close to him. There are moments that will make you cringe, uncomfortable with Oli at his worst, but then other moments that will make you laugh out loud and smile at his warmth and generosity. Ultimately he is a tragic figure who had his career cut short just as it seemed that he was about to rally. By the end you will have some understanding of what made him tick and why with key components offered from all of those close to him. By then it’s hard - despite all of his flaws and eccentricities - not to have taken him in a little and wanted to revisit all of his classics. I would probably read this again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jayne2624

    They sure don't make them like Ollie anymore more's the pity. One of the greatest actors of his generation with more facets to his personality than a well cut diamond. A warm kind generous human being one day and a raging bully the next when his demons got the better of him. I loved Oliver Reid before I read this book and I love him even more now., yes he was a hell raiser, a loose cannon, but he was interesting, colourful and real unlike today's plastic sanitised so called stars. This book take They sure don't make them like Ollie anymore more's the pity. One of the greatest actors of his generation with more facets to his personality than a well cut diamond. A warm kind generous human being one day and a raging bully the next when his demons got the better of him. I loved Oliver Reid before I read this book and I love him even more now., yes he was a hell raiser, a loose cannon, but he was interesting, colourful and real unlike today's plastic sanitised so called stars. This book takes you on the roller coaster ride of the life of the one and only Mr Oliver Reid warts and all, it had me laughing one minute and gasping with shock at his antics the next. Gone but never forgotten...RIP you crazy diamond x

  18. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As a lover of film, but born mid 80's, my chances of encountering Oliver Reed were dwindling. And yet, watching oliver twist (1968) the three muskateers (1973) and gladiator (2000) I was utterly blown away by his stand out performances. Few actors can so completely steal the camera, as to throw a shadow over their co-stars. My journey to discover more about the man led me to this biography, which was enlightening but sobering. The duality of personalities in Oliver was extreme, but who amoung us As a lover of film, but born mid 80's, my chances of encountering Oliver Reed were dwindling. And yet, watching oliver twist (1968) the three muskateers (1973) and gladiator (2000) I was utterly blown away by his stand out performances. Few actors can so completely steal the camera, as to throw a shadow over their co-stars. My journey to discover more about the man led me to this biography, which was enlightening but sobering. The duality of personalities in Oliver was extreme, but who amoung us is not both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Above all, my respect for him was confirmed as a hell raiser, but also, as a complete professional and a genuinely decent person devoid of the airs and graces that taint other members of the film actors guild.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary Hazard

    A fair unflinching take on a legend Oliver Reed was perhaps the last hellraiser of his generation. Immensely talented, his early start in horror films and smaller roles led to deserved stardom. But as his fame grew so, apparently, did his need for dangerous stunts and outrageous behavior. This book follows his life with accuracy, reminiscences both good and bad from friends, family, and coworkers. It makes me want to watch some of his better movies to appreciate his talent. If he'd only taken bet A fair unflinching take on a legend Oliver Reed was perhaps the last hellraiser of his generation. Immensely talented, his early start in horror films and smaller roles led to deserved stardom. But as his fame grew so, apparently, did his need for dangerous stunts and outrageous behavior. This book follows his life with accuracy, reminiscences both good and bad from friends, family, and coworkers. It makes me want to watch some of his better movies to appreciate his talent. If he'd only taken better care of himself, an incredible third act might have followed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Graham Richards

    A brilliant book we'll written by a master biographer.what a life Oliver Reed was an English legend film actor, a larger than life character, I don't think you can get a life so vivid full of incidents a true colossus of an English man. Oliver had so much presence on screen he could dwarf anyone else. Sadly missed a master of his art and such lovable mischievous man that had an unpredictable sense of humour. A brilliant book we'll written by a master biographer.what a life Oliver Reed was an English legend film actor, a larger than life character, I don't think you can get a life so vivid full of incidents a true colossus of an English man. Oliver had so much presence on screen he could dwarf anyone else. Sadly missed a master of his art and such lovable mischievous man that had an unpredictable sense of humour.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bekah Kay

    I'm having to abandon this book. This doesn't happen very often - previous abandoned include Harry Potter, Jo Nesbo - mostly because I've found it quite dry. I'm aware that Oliver had a pretty rollercoaster ride of life but I felt that this just seemed to focus on the negatives in too much detail and only briefly on the positives. Maybe I'll try it again another time... I'm having to abandon this book. This doesn't happen very often - previous abandoned include Harry Potter, Jo Nesbo - mostly because I've found it quite dry. I'm aware that Oliver had a pretty rollercoaster ride of life but I felt that this just seemed to focus on the negatives in too much detail and only briefly on the positives. Maybe I'll try it again another time...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keiron

    A wonderful memoir to a fabulous actor, but also an absolute hellraiser on the drink in the early days of British film. often funny in places, never boring and a great insight to how Reed operated. recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alan Lee

    Great read about a great Englishman Thought this book was fantastic what a guy he must have been I wish I could have met him I did visit the pub in Malta the year after Oliver died and maybe someday I will visit his resting place

  24. 4 out of 5

    michelle burns

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've just been on a pub crawl with Ollie and I'm exhausted. Never a dull moment. 💝🎬🍷🌹 I've just been on a pub crawl with Ollie and I'm exhausted. Never a dull moment. 💝🎬🍷🌹

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a very entertaining read. Oliver was criminally underrated as an actor, but as a person he was a walking disaster!

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Bleasdale

    It’s enjoyable though a bit exhausting.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Curran

    This book is pretty off the wall. Reed was obviously bar shit crazy and this is a book about his Wild life and times.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    The camera loved Oliver Reed, he was mesmerising. I put him right up there with the acting greats. He was box office. Far from a unique perspective. Unfortunately drink made a fool of him on camera and the modern laddish culture chooses to focus on a man diminished by drink. How I wish Reed had left the idiot antics to the idiots or at least kept such antics off camera within the realm of his close mates where most anyone should be free to be who they are. And that is one of the questions I hoped The camera loved Oliver Reed, he was mesmerising. I put him right up there with the acting greats. He was box office. Far from a unique perspective. Unfortunately drink made a fool of him on camera and the modern laddish culture chooses to focus on a man diminished by drink. How I wish Reed had left the idiot antics to the idiots or at least kept such antics off camera within the realm of his close mates where most anyone should be free to be who they are. And that is one of the questions I hoped to find an answer to; was the drunk the real Oliver or was it fueled by public expectation. The 500 page hardback is not as daunting as might first appear, the text is pretty large and well spaced on pretty good paper. It is the sort of book I seek to read in physical form rather than electronically (paperbacks are now a last resort). Once we get to Reed's film career it is pretty clear few people in the business liked to see drinking bringing him low, many in later interviews expressing sadness over such antics. Reed was at war with his own shyness and sensitive soul. The book is simply filled with drinking anecdote followed by variations on the "so nice when sober" theme. As time passes drink bites deeper into his character and the less pleasant aspects of Oliver's nature become increasingly dominant. It is disheartening to read. It seems pretty clear Reed was caught up in a vicious spiral of public expectation and his own capacity to drink. A strong man with a serious character weakness. It becomes increasingly clear cinema audiences saw the best of Oliver. Seldom would the advice to never met your heroes ring so true. His final role was Gladiator, a film he completed via technical wizardry. Before his untimely and tragic death there was much talk of Oliver making a great comeback to major films in his later years. Perhaps you could think so if you had not just read how he pissed away every great chance in the proceeding forty odd years. The book is well written and seems to have access to many of the major players in Oliver's private and professional life. The author does not seem to be indulgent of Reed's behavior and just tells it as it was. Difficult to rate. If it were a rating based on Reed it would be 1 star, I disliked him increasingly more with each chapter, even though I will always admire the sober Oliver. If I rated it on the effort to gather sources to retell the antics it would be 4. Eventually I give this book 3 stars. It really just lists Oliver's drunken antics, even if rather well and meticulously.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Colin Hunt

    A Biography of one of our most brilliant actors to grace our screens. The book contains Oliver's exploits off screen in family renditions and friends who new him. There's lots of these events and to quite honest becomes a bit boring at times. There's no doubt in his ability to act and we will never see again his ability to entertain us on screen again. A time in movie history that has now gone along with similar actors who liked the drink Burton, Harris, O'toole. Again brilliant actors and made A Biography of one of our most brilliant actors to grace our screens. The book contains Oliver's exploits off screen in family renditions and friends who new him. There's lots of these events and to quite honest becomes a bit boring at times. There's no doubt in his ability to act and we will never see again his ability to entertain us on screen again. A time in movie history that has now gone along with similar actors who liked the drink Burton, Harris, O'toole. Again brilliant actors and made the headlines off screen at times. We still have Hopkins that ceased the heavy drinking. Recommended good read and sums up the character of Oliver. One really never knows what any actor is like offscreen unless you are around them for a time, so this book gives a good read and the events are properly the best you will get not knowing him personally.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grant Trevarthen

    Robert Oliver Reed, was born on the 13th of February 1938 in Wimbledon, London England. He was to become one of England's finest actors of all time, until his untimely death on May 2nd 1999 in Valletta, Malta. He was only 61. His career spanned 40 years, from his debut movie 'The Sword Of Sherwood', in 1960 to when he gave his finest performance as 'Proximo' in 2000, in Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator. Reed, along with Peter O'Toole, were known to be heavily dependent on Alcohol, which didn't seem to Robert Oliver Reed, was born on the 13th of February 1938 in Wimbledon, London England. He was to become one of England's finest actors of all time, until his untimely death on May 2nd 1999 in Valletta, Malta. He was only 61. His career spanned 40 years, from his debut movie 'The Sword Of Sherwood', in 1960 to when he gave his finest performance as 'Proximo' in 2000, in Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator. Reed, along with Peter O'Toole, were known to be heavily dependent on Alcohol, which didn't seem to effect their acting, although, Reed appeared drunk on the Michael Parkinson show. Moviegoers like myself are all the worse off, from being able to have seen such a fine actor for many more years.

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