Isla made her first stage appearance in 1963 as Philia in the London debut of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and her first credited film appearance in the 1965 horror film Dr. Terror's House of Horrors
Higgins' first successes in cinema were: A Walk with Love and Death by John Huston with Angelica Huston (1969), Something for Everyone (1970) with Michael York and Angela Lansbury, Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), with Christopher Lee, and a cult movie Vampire Circus (1972), which was banned in Britain for a time for its hint of bestiality. In all movies and TV films of his early career, until 1975, Higgins was credited as Anthony Corlan, due to a union conflict of his name with another actor with a similar name. Higgins showed himself to be a serious actor in Flavia, la Monaca Musulmana (1974). This was followed by a period of television and plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and other British theatre productions. In 1976, he played a supporting role in a popular British television series, Hadleigh. In 1977 he played the lead role in a BBC series The Eagle of the Ninth, based on Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 book. In 1979, he played the supporting part of Gobler in the feature film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. Higgins won Best Actor of 1979 from Time Out magazine for his work with The Royal Shakespeare Company that year.
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