A HELL-RAISING actor who was best known for playing Mercutio in the 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet has died at 75.

John McEnery was described as an unpredictable and free-spirited man who lived life to the full. This attitude was perfectly exemplified in 2017 when he was arraigned at Maidstone Magistrates Court for brandishing a water pistol in a Faversham pub to frighten a barmaid.

One year later, he and his friend was cleared of all charges of intent to cause fear and violence.They turned up in shorts and sandals as “two old fools having a laugh”.

John was born in Walsall, near Birmingham, on November 1, 1943. The family later moved to Brighton.

His father, Charles McEnery, owned four stationery shops in the city. John had two older brothers, actor Peter McEnery and David, who was a photographer. He attended the Dorothy Stringer school and worked in a department store before moving in to an acting career. John trained at the Bristol Old Vic in 1962 and in 1964, he worked at the Everyman Theatre in Hope Street, Liverpool.

There, he met his wife, actress Stephanie Beacham. They married in 1973 and had two daughters, Phoebe and Chloe. They divorced five years later.

He joined the National Theatre in 1966 and appeared as Hamlet in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967).

John’s breakthrough role was playing the hot-headed Mercutio in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

He was nominated for a Bafta award and some recognition in Hollywood and Europe. Despite this, John’s film career did not pick up, save for a few prominent roles in several popular films. In 1970, he starred opposite Paul Scofield in Bartleby.

The following year, he starred in French film The Boat on the Grass with Claude Jade and Jean-Pierre Cassel. In 1974, he played Captain van Schoenvorts in the dinosaur adventure The Land That Time Forgot and in 1977, Ridley Scott’s The Duellist.

In the Seventies, he starred opposite his brother Peter in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In 1975, he was cast as Private Meek in George Bernard Shaw’s Too True To Be Good, Antonio in Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling.

In his later life, John moved to a basement flat on the Isle of Sheppey. His last mainstream stage performance was in 2012.

He played a gardener who seduced a destitute girl in Edward Bond’s Bingo.