John Shrapnel: Notting Hill and Gladiator actor dies

Notting Hill and Gladiator actor John Shrapnel has died at the age of 77, the National Theatre says.

The arts venue led tributes to the star, describing him as a "wonderful actor".

"We're very sad to hear that the wonderful actor John Shrapnel has died. He performed in many productions at the National Theatre, including Phedre - our first @NTLive production," it said.

Shrapnel had reportedly been suffering from cancer.

He was a respected theatre actor but had also appeared in a number of films, including 101 Dalmatians, The Duchess and Alien Autopsy.

Richard E Grant was among those sharing their condolences, writing on Twitter: "Sad to learn that John Shrapnel has died. I played his patient in HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING (1989).

"Generous, kind, funny and warm hearted. Privileged to have known and worked with him."

Actress Maxine Peake shared a photo with Shrapnel, who had starred alongside her in Hamlet, saying: "We have lost another great. The incomparable John Shrapnel.

"Honoured to have worked with him. Privileged to have called him a friend."

Stage actor Hadley Fraser said he had "loved" Shrapnel and "learned a great deal from him".

Director Duncan Jones described the late actor as a "delightful, generous person", adding: "John was one of a handful of actors, far too talented for my early career, to agree to work with me just after I left film school.

"I made a short film called Whistle, and he agreed to spend a day working on it, elevating my short into something I was later able to enter in festivals & leverage into real, paid work."

Shrapnel was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and also had experience as a voiceover actor.

He is survived by his wife Francesca and three children.