The Washington Post
Actor won acclaim in ‘Away From Her’
Gordon Pinsent, an awardwinning Canadian actor acclaimed for his performance as a heartbroken husband in the film “Away From Her,” died Feb. 25 at 92.
His family announced the death but did not provide further information.
Mr. Pinsent worked for decades in radio, television and movies. In 2008, he received the Academy of Canadian Television and Cinema’s Genie Award for best actor in a leading role for “Away From Her.” He played a husband losing his wife (Julie Christie) not only to Alzheimer’s but also to another man.
Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley directed “Away From Her,” which premiered at film festivals in 2006 before its theatrical release in 2007. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott lauded Mr. Pinsent as “a marvelously subtle actor with a rich voice and a shaggy charisma.”
Gordon Edward Pinsent was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, on July 12, 1930. His father was a paper mill worker and cobbler.
He began acting in his late teens, and he played in radio drama on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. before working in movies and television.
He appeared on children’s shows in the early 1960s, including CBC’S “The Forest Rangers.” He later was in dozens of Canada’s top television shows, including “The Red Green Show,” and was the voice of the animated elephant King Babar on TV and in a movie.
In “The Shipping News” (2001), based on a novel by Annie Proulx and set in Newfoundland, Mr. Pinsent played newspaperman Billy Pretty, and during filming, he helped other cast members perfect the local accent.
Mr. Pinsent starred in “Away From Her” when he was 76. As Polley read Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over The Mountain,” she said, she envisioned a film starring Pinsent.
Mr. Pinsent’s own wife of more than four decades, actress Charmion King, died of emphysema some months before the mainstream release of “Away From Her,” forcing Mr. Pinsent to re-examine the film’s themes of quiet despair.
“It was something I wasn’t necessarily drawing on except in the general sense of how anyone must feel at a certain time of life after spending so many years with a partner,” Mr. Pinsent said during a 2007 interview, a few weeks after King’s death.
“It’s almost impossible to grasp . . . how do you prepare?” he said. “Where does love go? Where do you go, the leftover?”
King and Mr. Pinsent had one child together, actress Leah Pinsent. He also had two children, Barry and Beverly, from an earlier marriage to Irene Reid that ended in divorce.
In 2013, Mr. Pinsent starred in Don Mckellar’s acclaimed Newfoundland-set comedy “The Grand Seduction,” earning a Canadian Screen Award for best supporting actor. In 2018, he released a short film he wrote, “Martin’s Hagge,” about a middleaged writer with anxiety and depression.
“I really love writing . . . writing is good, it’s even better than good when you hit those peaks, and it’s the same feeling oddly enough in acting,” Mr. Pinsent said. “It’s that lovely thing where you get that zone, that peak of joy, and it reminds you of why you started it all.”
He wrote a memoir, “By the Way.”