Untrained actor, but one of the best. Most of the rolls he played didn't show his range. There are many movies he made that I haven't seen, but the ones I have seen, he always had a dramatic presence, a presence with weight.
Reeds career took off with Hammer Films of the sixties. That's where I remember seeing him first, on the screen at the drive-in. The Muskateer movies of the seventies were a great vehicle for him. This franchise always had a splendid cast of actors, but it was Oliver Reed's Athos that I remember so well. He played many kinds of rolls, but my favorite were the mythic figures.
Reed was made to play classic, legendary figures. He should have played so many Shakespeare rolls. He would've made an incredible Petruchi in the comedy Taming of the Shrew.
His career would've skyrocketed had the producers gone ahead and secured Oliver Reed as James Bond when Sean Connery bowed out. He missed the being picked because of his drinking and fighting. It was an opportunity lost. People might have been debating who made the best Bond...Reed or Connery? But that never happened.
Oliver Reed peeked in the early to mid seventies and then faded in the eighties. The rolls weren't as good. Most of his movies didn't do well at the box office. Maybe it had to do with the alcohol. He lived hard. He made no apologies for his life, he did what he did and he was what he was. I can't help but believe that Oliver Reed could have been and done so much more.
He died while Gladiator was still in production. Proximo was a wonderful part for Oliver Reed to end his career. Though he appeared to be an older man, there was still great strength in his presence. He was one impressive actor.
"Oliver died of a heart attack in a bar after downing three bottles of Captain Morgan's Jamaica rum, eight bottles of German beer, numerous doubles of Famous Gruse whiskey and Hennessy cognac, and beating five much younger Royal Navy sailors at arm-wrestling."