LONDON (AP) _ James Hazeldine, an admired stage and television actor who had just taken on a new role at the Royal National Theatre, has died. He was 55.

Hazeldine died Tuesday, his agent Nicola van Gelder said. She gave no cause of death.

Hazeldine became ill Dec. 10, four days after beginning performances in the new Christopher Hampton play ``The Talking Cure'' at the National, in which he played Sigmund Freud. He was in intensive care before he died, van Gelder said Wednesday.

Trevor Nunn, director of the Royal National Theatre, said ``the whole profession will be shocked and distressed by this news.''

``It is rare that great charismatic talent and selfless warm generosity are found in the same person, but this was so with Jimmy Hazeldine,'' Nunn said.

``A leading actor of minutely observed truthfulness, comic brio and emotional daring, he was also a man of infectious enthusiasm, great warmth and humanity who was universally popular amongst his colleagues,'' Nunn said.

With the Royal Shakespeare Company, Hazeldine played Troilus in ``Troilus and Cressida,'' John Clare in Edward Bond's ``The Fool,'' and Alcibiades in ``Timon of Athens.''

He made his Broadway debut in 1984 as Sam Evans in ``Strange Interlude'' with Glenda Jackson, and returned to New York as Harry Hope in Howard Davies' production of ``The Iceman Cometh,'' starring Kevin Spacey.

His films included ``Emma'' in 1996, ``Business As Usual'' in 1988 and ``Pink Floyd: The Wall'' in 1983.

Hazeldine is known to British television audiences as a star of ``London's Burning,'' a popular series about firefighters.

Details about Hazeldine's surviving relatives were not immediately available, and funeral plans were not announced.