Tall, blonde, and statuesque British actor Julian Sands is equally fit appearing in elegant historical dramas as he is in cult movies and horror films. A native of Yorkshire, he has a fine bone structure, striking blonde hair, and an eloquent speaking voice. Sands studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and joined the Forum Theatre Company. He made his film debut in Derek Jarman's Broken English but stayed working in the theater until his breakthrough film performance as photographer Jon Swain in Roland Joffé's The Killing Fields. He paid his dues with some routine U.K. films (Oxford Blues, After Darkness) until he landed the role of free-spirited George Emerson in the Merchant-Ivory production A Room With a View. He entered the realm of sexualized horror films as poet Percy Shelley in Ken Russell's Gothic. This role seemed to lead straightaway to his title role in Warlock, followed by Warlock: The Armageddon. Briefly returning to historical costume dramas to portray composer Franz Liszt in James Lapine's lavish Impromptu, Sands was back to creepy, sexual thrillers like Mary Lambert's Siesta and David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. He also found time to play a few doctors in the Cyndi Lauper movie Vibes and in Steven Spielberg's Arachnophobia. After playing the sexually submissive surgeon in the critically dismissed drama Boxing Helena, he made a quick recovery in Paul Schrader's made-for-TV detective film Witch Hunt. Back in the U.K., he formed a close working relationship with director Mike Figgis and found roles in The Browning Version, Leaving Las Vegas, One Night Stand, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, Timecode, and Hotel. Meanwhile, he made a few films in Italy, most notably as the Phantom in Dario Argento's The Phantom of the Opera. In 2002, he was cast in the epic miniseries Rose Red and Napoleon. Not one to shy away from middle-brow genres, Sands can be also seen as the bad guy in the Jackie Chan movie The Medallion and as the voice of Valmont on the Jackie Chan Adventures animated series.
Biography by Andrea LeVasseur
- At age 7, saw Laurence Olivier in Richard III, which in part inspired him to become an actor; 39 years later, he played Olivier in a 2005 BBC production.
- Founded a theater company that performed in British schools and youth clubs.
- His television debut was A Married Man on England's Channel Four; his movie debut was Privates on Parade.
- His breakout role (in more ways than one) was 1986's A Room with a View, in which he had a full-frontal nude scene. Following the success of that film, he moved to America and initially stayed with pal John Malkovich.
- Made a memorable guest appearance on Smallville in 2009, playing Clark Kent's biological father Jor-El.
- Appeared on stage in L.A. in a 2009 production of The Female of the Species opposite Annette Bening.