This is as apparent in conversation with the actor, whose long television career began in iconic 1970s' TV sit-com, Rising Damp, as it is on stage in the touring production of Driving Miss Daisy, which arrives in Edinburgh this week. It's something to do with the perfectly enunciated and plummy drawl of his voice, but his presence also has a stillness and an air of authority.
Such characteristics make Warrington perfect to play Hoke Coleburn, the chauffeur to Daisy Werthan, the deep south matriarch who gives Alfred Uhry's 1987 Broadway hit, filmed by Bruce Beresford two years later, its title. Charting the pair's relationship between 1948 and 1973, Uhry's play sees them move through a changing America, as in-built racism gives way to the civil rights movement and Daisy and Hoke's master-servant status gradually becomes an alliance of equals.
This is made explicit in David Esbjornson's production in sepia-tinged documentary illustrations of Martin Luther King and other icons of the era's black liberation movement. In a play that can seem elegiac, they give a political undercurrent to the action.
"I think the politics in the play affect people," Warrington says. "Some people will say it's not political enough, but it's not a polemic. That's not what the writer was setting out to do. It's a very human story and that's its drama."
Hoke was originally played by Morgan Freeman, who recreated his role onscreen opposite veteran British actress, Jessica Tandy. As have other noted Hokes, including James Earl Jones, Warrington brings gravitas and sensitivity to the role.
"I remember seeing On The Waterfront," he says. "It had these huge themes of damnation and redemption, and Marlon Brando had that elusive quality but with these incredible depths of emotion, and I just knew again that this was what I wanted to do.
"It was my sort of secret, which I didn't really share with anyone until I was old enough to do something about it. Then when I was 16 I went to the local theatre, told them my ambitions, and they gave me a job."
Warrington later trained at the Drama Centre London in the thick of the city's burgeoning counter-culture, which, as he notes, was "a pretty revolutionary school at the time. It was a big leap for me, going from Newcastle to this house of creativity, which didn't prepare you for the real world in any way".
Warrington's first job as a professional actor was in a play called The Banana Box. Eric Chappell's comedy, which transferred to the Apollo Theatre in London's West End, was set in a seedy boarding house, into which Warrington's character moves, claiming to be the son of an African chief. This not only pricks the prejudices of his landlord, but also inflames the passions of a female tenant.
When The Banana Box was turned into a TV sit-com in 1974, the stage play's three principal actors were retained, although its original title was ditched. With Leonard Rossiter as landlord Rigsby and Frances de la Tour as the frustrated Miss Jones joining the programme alongside Warrington and new recruit Richard Beckinsale as long-haired student Alan, Rising Damp ran for four series over four years, and in 1980 was adapted into a film version. In 2004 the TV show came first in a BBC poll to name the top 100 sitcoms.
"It was very well-written," Warrington reflects, "and the characters were very real. The casting was perfect for it, and even though it was a sit-com, we all wanted to make it as real as we could, which I'm not sure would necessarily happen today."
While the success of Rising Damp undoubtedly opened doors for him, and helped transform Rossiter into a household name, Warrington maintains that "I didn't have a career at the time".
"It was a very different time then, and it's very hard to say what doors doing Rising Damp opened. My interest wasn't in fame. It was in doing what my contemporaries were doing. At the time, there were a lot of offers that seemed to come from my doing the programme, but my interests lay elsewhere."
Warrington's interests took him to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, where he appeared as part of Bill Bryden's seminal Cottesloe company in the Scots director's epic promenade take on The Mystery plays, as reimagined by poet Tony Harrison..
"The first day we opened we only had a dog and a drunk watching," Warrington recalls of the production, "but by the end you couldn't get a ticket."
More recently, Warrington has been playing a police commissioner in Caribbean-set murder mystery TV series Death in Paradise, has directed several plays, was awarded an OBE for services to drama, and even notched a stint on Strictly Come Dancing on his belt.
Whatever he tackles he always brings the same seriousness to the role.
"I've always looked to parts which set me a challenge," he says. "It's about trying to make something real."
Driving Miss Daisy, King's Theatre, Edinburgh, tonight to Saturday. www.edtheatres.com