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Human remains found in California confirmed to be missing British actor Julian Sands

Human remains found in the San Gabriel mountains near Los Angeles have been confirmed to be those of British actor Julian Sands, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has said.

Sands, known for his roles in A Room with a View and Arachnophobia, had been missing for more than five months, after failing to return from a hike in the Mount Baldy area on 13 January.

The remains were found in the same area on Saturday by civilian hikers, with a coroner later confirming them to be those of Sands.

A statement released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday said: “The identification process for the body located on Mt Baldy on 24 June, 2023 has been completed and was positively identified 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 try to locate Mr Sands.”

A family statement issued last week said: “We are deeply grateful to the search teams and co-ordinators who have worked tirelessly to find Julian.

“We 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.”

Over the course of five months, search efforts had been continuously hampered by poor conditions in the area and halted in March due to the risk of avalanches.

The sheriff’s department previously said that a total of eight searches specific to Sands by both ground and air had taken place.

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 hours.

Julian Sands made his big break in the 1985 romantic period drama A Room with a View, but later on developed a penchant for horror flicks.

The British actor’s height and gaunt appearance lent themselves well to the genre and he excelled in roles for films including Gothic, Warlock and Arachnophobia.

Sands, 65, enjoyed a career on both the big and small screens, working with big industry names including Helena Bonham Carter, John Malkovich and Steven Spielberg.

He is known for work in productions including Leaving Las Vegas and Warlock, as well as TV appearances on Banshee, Smallville and the high-octane thriller 24.

Born in Yorkshire in 1958, Sands gained recognition with audiences with A Room with a View, in which he starred opposite Bonham Carter as her love interest.

Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith also appeared in the adaption of the E M Forster novel of the same name, and the film was nominated for eight Oscars.

Sands had previously gained notice as a British photographer chronicling the Cambodian civil war in The Killing Fields in 1984 which also saw performances from Sam Waterston and John Malkovich.

The actor told The Guardian in 2014 on the 30th anniversary of the movie: “I was 24 and I’ve never come across anything as rigorous since.

“(Director Roland Joffe) was looking to put together a troupe of actors without much film experience, because he wanted the freshness of everything to resonate with us.”

In the latter part of the 1980s, his attention shifted to roles in darker films, including the 1986 psychological horror film Gothic, where he played a fictional version of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The shift to horror continued through to 1989, in the film Warlock, where he played the son of Satan opposite fellow British actor Richard E Grant.

He would follow this up with the sequel Warlock: The Armageddon, in 1993 and a performance in Frank Marshall’s directorial debut – 1990’s Arachnophobia – which was produced by Spielberg.

He continued the trend with performances in 1991’s Naked Lunch and 1993’s Boxing Helena before coming full circle and returning to romance, with a performance in Leaving Las Vegas in 1995.

On the small screen, Sands appeared alongside Keifer Sutherland in 24, and also starred in Banshee and the superhero drama Smallville, where he played Superman’s father Jor-El.

He most recently played the chief medical officer in the 2021 Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi-led drama Benediction.

From 1984 to 1987 he was married to future Evening Standard and Today editor Sarah Sands, with whom he had a son.

He also has two daughters with journalist Evgenia Citkowitz, whom he married in 1990.

Sands lived in Los Angeles since 2020.

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

Sands’ hiking partner and fellow actor, Kevin Ryan, previously said he was “the most advanced hiker I know”.

“It’s what he did. His whole life he was climbing mountains. It was a true passion of his,” Ryan said.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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