Sir Patrick Stewart has paid tribute to his “dear friend” and former Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) artistic director Terry Hands.
The Stratford-based theatre company announced that the 79-year-old died on Tuesday.
Hands worked with stars including Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Simon Russell Beale and David Suchet.
Sir Patrick tweeted that he would “never forget” Hands.
He added: “May my dear friend and British theatre director, Terry Hands, rest in peace.
“He and I joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at the same time, 1966.
“I admired him immensely. He played a very significant part in my early Shakespeare career.”
Sir Patrick added that he had met Hands “several times” in the last couple of years to talk about collaborating on another Shakespeare project.
“It will be forever a regret that we didn’t,” he said.
Hands, who was awarded a CBE in 2007, ran the RSC for 13 years.
He put on 21 Shakespeare plays during his time in Stratford.
He also founded the Liverpool Everyman theatre and served as the artistic director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales, and is credited with saving it from closure.
The theatre’s current artistic director Tamara Harvey said: “Terry Hands was a giant of the theatre. And a colossus of Theatr Clwyd.
“He saved the theatre from closure – this is actual truth not hyperbole – and protected it from ongoing public funding cuts, keeping our theatre and making teams together whilst theatres across the country were losing theirs.”