British actor Julian Sands, known for his roles in the 1985 costume drama A Room With a View and the Warlock horror movies, has been confirmed dead after going missing months ago while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains outside of Los Angeles. He was 65.
The news was confirmed Tuesday by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Coroner Department:
“On Saturday, June 24, 2023, at about 10 a.m., civilian hikers contacted the Fontana Sheriff’s Station after they discovered human remains in the Mt. Baldy wilderness. Fontana Station deputies, along with the Sheriff’s Department’s Emergency Operations Division, responded to the scene,” the department said in statement. “The coroner subsequently “positively identified [the remains] as 65-year-old Julian Sands of North Hollywood. The manner of death is still under investigation, pending further test results.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to all the volunteers that worked tirelessly to locate Mr. Sands.”
Sands was last seen Jan. 13 on Mt. Baldy, one of many areas in that had been pummeled with ferocious snow and wind storms through an atypically wet winter. Search and rescue teams on the ground were sent in to find Sands and another hiker reported missing at the same time. However, they had been taken off the assignment due to treacherous conditions and the risk of an avalanche, and, at one point, they had to rely on helicopters and drones.
Last week, reflecting on renewed search efforts underway more than five months since Sands’s disappearance, the actor’s family said they “continue to hold Julian in our hearts with bright memories of him as a wonderful father, husband, explorer, lover of the natural world and the arts, and as an original and collaborative performer,” per a statement shared by the sheriff’s department on June 21.
Sands was a prolific actor, whose career began in the early 1980s. His performance alongside Sam Waterston and John Malkovich in Oscar-winning 1984 film The Killing Fields led to turns in projects including the following year’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel A Room With a View, in which he co-starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter, and, in 1989, the horror film Warlock. He returned to play the title character in Warlock: The Armageddon in 1993.
According to rumor, it was actually Sands that Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice wanted to play Lestat in the 1994 big-screen adaptation of her book. The role ultimately went to the better-known Tom Cruise.
In all, Sands appeared in more than 150 projects over his career. They include playing the title character in the 1998 remake of The Phantom of the Opera, as well as credits in the Steven Spielberg-produced horror comedy Arachnophobia in 1990, the infamous 1993 flop Boxing Helena and Oscar-winning 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas. Other credits include the caper sequel Ocean’s 13 and the action movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, plus TV’s 24, Lipstick Jungle, Ghost Whisperer, Smallville and The Blacklist.
Sands explained in a December 2019 interview with Decider that he felt “the same enthusiasm more, possibly! — and curiosity and excitement at the prospect of going to work on whatever’s next” at that time as he had on his very first jobs.
Born in Yorkshire, England, Sands went on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, but he eventually relocated to Los Angeles. He had been married to journalist Evgenia Citkowitz, with whom he shares two daughters, since 1990; Sands and his previous wife share an adult son.In May 2020, he told The Guardian that he was the happiest when he was “close to a mountain summit on a glorious cold morning.”
He was asked in the same conversation about the closest he had ever come to death.
“In the early ’90s, in the Andes, caught in an atrocious storm above 20,000ft with three others,” Sands said. “We were all in a very bad way. Some guys close to us perished; we were lucky.”
He added that, at his funeral, he wanted Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Judy Garland’s song “Get Happy” to play. He said he hoped to be remembered as “an interesting, amusing father by my children.”