James Frain

Active - 1993 - Present  |   Born - Mar 14, 1968 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England  |   Genres - Drama, Historical Film, Thriller

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

A swarthy, versatile performer possessed of a strong screen presence, British actor James Frain first made an impression on audiences with his portrayal of a rebellious young student opposite Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands (1993). A graduate of London's Central School of Speech and Drama, he then did strong work in Mike Newell's An Awfully Big Adventure (1994) and Thaddeus O' Sullivan's acclaimed Nothing Personal (1995), the latter of which cast him as the leader of a militant anti-IRA group. Frain's international recognition increased in 1998, thanks to strong performances in two highly acclaimed films, Elizabeth and Hilary and Jackie. The first featured him in a supporting role as Spaniard Alvaro de la Quadra, while in the latter, he played pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, the husband of musical prodigy Jaqueline DuPre (Emily Watson).

Frain's profile was given even greater exposure in 1999, when he appeared in a number of star-studded films. Titus, Julie Taymor's lavish adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus cast Frain as Bassianus, while István Szabó's equally lavish epic Sunshine -- a drama chronicling over a century of history in a family of Hungarian Jews -- saw him playing Ralph Fiennes' hot-tempered brother. Vigo: Passion for Life, meanwhile, starred Frain as the title character, a French filmmaker whose movies were as influential as his life was brief. In 2000, John Frankenheimer's Reindeer Games thrust the actor into the more modern milieu of underworld crime alongside the likes of Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, and Charlize Theron. Later that same year, he displayed his softer side in Where the Heart Is, playing an awkward, kind-hearted small town librarian who falls in love with a young single mother (Natalie Portman). Forliani stayed busy throughout the 2000s, winning praise for her work in the critically acclaimed fantasy drama Northfolk (2003), which also starred James Woods and Nick Nolte. She appeared in director Christopher Guest's playful send-up of Hollywood during awards season, For Your Consideration, in 2006, though she is better known for her portrayal of medical examiner Peyton Driscoll in CSI: NY (2006-2007). In 2008 she joined the cast of the supernatural thriller Not Forgotten to play a supporting role, and returned to the small screen in 2011 to play the part of Igraine in Camelot, a short-lived television series from STARZ. After taking a reoccurring role in 24's fourth season (2005), Frain portrayed Tomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex in season of HBO's period drama The Tudors throughout its three season run (2007-2009). He played a caretaker in Water for Elephants (starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson) in 2011, and co-starred with James Caviezel in the crime comedy Transit in 2012.

In addition to his screen work, Frain has performed in a number of stage productions. He has worked with such prestigious groups as the Peter Hall Company in London's West End and Stratford-Upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Company.

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  • Is the first of eight children. Was 22 years old when he decided to pursue acting professionally. Claimed working as a toilet cleaner was the worst job he ever had. Was discovered by Sir Richard Attenborough, who cast him in his debut feature role opposite Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger in Shadowlands (1993). Made his Broadway debut in 2007 playing Teddy in the revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. Admitted that one of his favorite roles was playing vampire Franklin Mott in True Blood. Appeared in the second installment of the Tron movie series, but did not see the original Tron movie until he was cast in Tron: Legacy. Enjoys drawing, painting and photography.