Another illustrious graduate of London's Central School of Speech and Drama, Joss Ackland made his first professional stage appearance at 17 in the 1945 production The Hasty Heart. For the next decade, Ackland learned his craft in a variety of regional theatre troupes, taking time out for an unheralded film debut in 1949's Seven Days to Noon. He quit acting in 1955 to manage a Central African tea plantation, finding creative outlets as a playwright and radio disc jockey. Upon his return to the British theatre in 1957, Ackland joined the Old Vic. From 1962 through 1964, he was associate director of the Mermaid Theatre. He subsequently established himself on the West End musical stage, playing such showcase roles as Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Juan Peron in Evita. Launching his film career proper in 1965, Ackland has flourished in characterizations calling for outsized gestures and orotund vocal calisthenics. Among his better-known screen roles are Greta Scacchi's decadent, untrustworthy aristocrat husband in White Mischief (1988), and homicidal South African diplomat Arjen Rudd in Lethal Weapon 2 (1990). On TV, Ackland was seen as C.S. Lewis in the 1985 BBC production of Shadowlands, and as Isaac in the 1994 made-for-cable Biblical drama Jacob. He has also provided voiceovers for the animated features A Midsummer's Night's Dream (1961) and Watership Down (1978). Over the coming decades, Ackland would appear in several projects over the coming decades, including K-19: The Widowmaker, Asylum, and Flawless.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Made his stage debut in 1945 in The Hasty Heart.
- Met wife Rosemary Kirkcaldy at a theatre in Pitlochry in 1951 when they were both in J.M. Barrie's Mary Rose.
- Worked on a tea plantation in Africa while striving to make a living as an actor.
- House caught on fire in 1963 while Ackland was away working; Rosemary saved their children, but broke her back jumping to safety (while pregnant with their sixth child).
- Appointed Commander of the British Empire in 2000.