One of the screen's most consistently solid performers and least recognized personalities, British actor Ian Hart has appeared in an enviably diverse number of films over the course of the '90s. To say that Hart has a chameleon-like quality would be something of an understatement; one of the reasons for the lack of audience recognition afforded to him is his ability to completely disappear in his roles, exchanging full-bodied characterizations for any trace of the actor responsible for them.
Little is known about Hart's background aside from the fact that he got his start in regional theatre and on such BBC television programs as the popular series Eastenders. One thing that is certain is that Hart's Liverpool origins and uncanny resemblance to John Lennon were responsible for getting him his first big break. In 1992, he was chosen to play Lennon in Christopher Munch's The Hours and Times (1992), a film that examined the relationship between Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Two years later, Hart again played the musician in Backbeat, Iain Softley's account of the relationship between Lennon, Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff), and Sutcliffe's girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr (Sheryl Lee). The film earned a number of strong notices and was fairly successful at the box office, with Hart earning particular acclaim for his portrayal of Lennon.
Following a starring role as a shell-shocked young Welshman in The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain (1995), Hart embarked on a series of projects that read like a who's who list of gritty, socially conscious British films. For director Ken Loach, he played a dedicated young journalist who gets caught up in the Spanish Civil War in Land and Freedom (1995); that same year, he won the Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for his portrayal of a psychotic Northern Irish Protestant gangster in Thaddeus O'Sullivan's Nothing Personal. The following year, Hart played Martin Donovan's lover in the relentlessly intense child abuse drama Hollow Reed and had a substantial supporting role in Neil Jordan's Michael Collins, a biographical epic about the legendary and controversial Irish rebellion leader.
The following year, Hart again collaborated with Jordan, this time on The Butcher Boy. He also returned to the milieu of the post-war rock scene as a club manager in Jez Butterworth's Mojo. In one of his rare U.S. outings, Hart played the owner of a Lower Manhattan diner in Amos Poe's comedy-thriller Frogs for Snakes (1998); that same year, he appeared in American director Ted Demme's Monument Avenue, a drama about a group of Irish-American toughs in Boston.
1999 brought with it another collaboration for Hart and Jordan; this time it was on an adaptation of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair, a World War II romance that featured Hart as a cockney detective. That same year, he starred as a nerdy, emotionally unstable comic book enthusiast who finds love in an unlikely place in the ensemble comedy This Year's Love and played a doltish ex-boyfriend in Michael Winterbottom's acclaimed ensemble drama Wonderland. Over the next several years, Hart would remain active on screen, appering on series like The Virgin Queen, Dirt, and Luck, as well as in films like Blind Fight, Within the Whirlwind, and Hard Boiled Sweets.