Julian Sands was ‘genuinely fearless’ says friend and colleague


Julian Sands was a charismatic actor who was “genuinely fearless”, a close friend and colleague has said, upon news of his death.

Mike Figgis, who directed the late British actor in eight films and was close to his family, said Sands had been “very secure in himself” and he had found his boldness “endearing”. Sands’ death was confirmed on Tuesday, after human remains found in the Mount Baldy area of the San Gabriel mountains in southern California, were identified as his.

The actor had been missing for more than five months, having failed to return from a hike in January.

Multiple searches by local authorities had been unsuccessful, with poor weather conditions hampering efforts since March. Civilian hikers came across his remains on Saturday.

Figgis told The Guardian that the first time he had met Sands at a casting meeting in 1987, the actor had been “pushy” but he had been “tickled by his enthusiasm”. He said: “I’ve never met anyone like him.

“He was so pushy but I found his boldness very endearing. He was wrong for the role… but I was very tickled by his enthusiasm and we became friends.”

Figgis said Sands was “basically his ensemble” having made the first of their eight films together – The Browning Version – in 1993 and the last – Mother Tongue – in 2020.

“Julian was conscious of the power of his charisma and his looks, in an impish, devilish kind of way,” he told The Guardian.

“And perhaps because he was so handsome, he was very secure in himself.”

He added that Sands had been “genuinely fearless”, going to inspect the foundations of his Los Angeles home during the aftershock of an earthquake in 1994.

He had been known for his love of the outdoors and hiking in the surrounding areas, and was considered an experienced and competent mountaineer by his friends.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which spearheaded searches for Sands, said that a total of eight searches relating specifically to the actor had taken place both on the ground and from the air.

The most recent search had involved “over 80 search and rescue volunteers, deputies, and staff”, with their efforts supported by two helicopters, and drone crews.

The department added that volunteer searcher hours had exceeded 500. Figgis told the newspaper: “The past five months have been a kind of strange hiatus. It has been pretty clear from very early on that he wasn’t coming back.”

He added: “But for me, the convention of closure, which has now come, brings with it a release of emotion. The realisation that he really has gone and we will not meet again. So I’m saying goodbye to my friend. I will miss him terribly.”

Sands was best-known for his breakout role in the 1985 romantic period drama A Room With A View, in which he starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter. He later transitioned successfully to the horror genre, with appearances in films including Gothic, Warlock and Arachnophobia.

From 1984 to 1987 the actor was married to future Evening Standard and Today editor Sarah Sands, with whom he shares a son. He also has two daughters with journalist Evgenia Citkowitz, whom he married in 1990.

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