Formerly of the RADA and Royal Shakespeare Company, British leading man Ben Cross made an impressive film debut as Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire (1981). Cross' participation in this Oscar-winning film immediately opened up new professional doors and increased his asking price. But he was not about to blindly capitalize on his new fame; he turned down 100,000 dollars to play Prince Charles in a made-for-TV movie in favor of appearing for a comparative pittance in a BBC miniseries adaptation of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel. He has continued to select film, stage, and TV roles on the basis of quality rather than monetary potential. One exception may be Cross' acceptance of the role of centuries-old vampire Barnabas Collins in the failed 1991 revival of the cult-favorite TV series Dark Shadows.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- First acting experience was playing Jesus in a school pageant at age 12.
- Left high school at age 15.
- Worked as a carpenter for the Welsh National Opera before deciding to pursue acting as a career.
- Made his film debut in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
- Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977.
- Received critical acclaim for playing greasy lawyer Billy Flynn in a 1978 London production of the musical Chicago.
- Big break came with his role as Jewish athlete Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire (1981).
- Is known for selecting roles based on quality instead of financial potential; once turned down $100,000 to play Prince Charles in a made-for-TV movie, opting to appear in the BBC miniseries The Citadel (1983) instead.