Robin Sachs was a talented and versatile actor who played memorable roles in various genres of film and television. He was best known for his portrayal of Ethan Rayne, the evil sorcerer and nemesis of Giles in the cult series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He also starred as General Sarris, the reptilian antagonist of the sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest, alongside Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver. But how did this British actor, who had a successful career in both the UK and the US, die of a heart attack at the age of 61?
Early Life and Career
Robin Sachs was born in London on February 5, 1951, to a theatrical family. His father was Leonard Sachs, a South African-born actor who hosted the popular BBC show The Good Old Days. His mother was Eleanor Summerfield, an English actress who appeared in many films and TV shows, including The Avengers and The Saint. Robin Sachs followed in his parents’ footsteps and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he honed his skills and developed his distinctive voice.
Sachs began his career in the 1970s, appearing in various stage, film, and TV productions. He made his film debut in 1972, playing a young vampire in Hammer’s Vampire Circus. He also had roles in Henry VIII and His Six Wives, The Disappearance, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. On television, he was cast in Brideshead Revisited, Upstairs, Downstairs, Rumpole of the Bailey, and Chessgame, among others. He also performed in several plays, working with renowned actors and directors such as Rex Harrison, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, and John Gielgud.
Move to America and Breakthrough Roles
In the early 1990s, Sachs moved to Los Angeles after being offered a guest role in the TV series Jake and the Fatman. He also played Adam Carrington in the miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion, replacing the original actor Gordon Thomson. He decided to stay in the US and pursue more opportunities in Hollywood. He soon found success in various sci-fi and fantasy shows, such as Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager, and Torchwood: Miracle Day. He also voiced several characters in animated shows and video games, such as The Silver Surfer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
However, his most famous roles were in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Galaxy Quest. In Buffy, he played Ethan Rayne, a former friend and rival of Giles, who turned to dark magic and chaos. He appeared in four episodes of the show, spanning from 1997 to 2000, and became a fan favorite villain. He had a great chemistry with Anthony Head, who played Giles, and often improvised their scenes together. In Galaxy Quest, he played General Sarris, the leader of an alien race that wanted to destroy the crew of the NSEA Protector, a fictional spaceship from a TV show. He wore heavy prosthetics and make-up for the role, which took hours to apply and remove. He delivered a hilarious and menacing performance, matching the comedic talents of his co-stars.
Death and Legacy
Robin Sachs died on February 1, 2013, four days before his 62nd birthday. He was found dead in his home in Los Angeles by his girlfriend, who called 911. The cause of death was later determined to be a heart attack, which was likely triggered by atherosclerosis, a condition that causes the narrowing of the arteries. He had no known history of heart problems, and his death came as a shock to his family, friends, and fans.
Sachs was survived by his two sons, Toby and Will, from his first marriage to actress Siân Phillips, whom he divorced in 1991. He was also married to actress Casey Defranco from 1995 to 2006. He had a brother, Toby Sachs, who is also an actor. His ex-wife Defranco paid tribute to him on his official website, calling him “a wonderful person, extraordinarily talented as an actor.” She also thanked his fans for their support and condolences.
Robin Sachs left behind a legacy of diverse and memorable roles, spanning from drama to comedy, from stage to screen, from live-action to animation. He was a versatile and charismatic actor, who could play both heroes and villains with equal flair. He was also a generous and kind person, who loved his family, friends, and fans. He will be remembered as one of the most talented and beloved actors of his generation.