Another distinguished product of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Lancashire-born Ian McShane made his professional stage, film and TV debut all in the same year: 1962. McShane's subsequent stage credits were as extensive as they were impressive, ranging from centuries-old classics to Tennessee Williams and Joe Orton. His TV resumé includes any number of TV-movies and miniseries: he played Judas in the internationally produced Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and was seen as the title character in the British "mini" Disraeli (1979). In America, he was a regular on the 1989-90 season of Dallas, playing Don Lockwood. McShane gained an international fan following as a result of his starring role in the widely-distributed TV series The Lovejoy Mysteries, originally filmed in 1986, then brought back by popular demand in 1990.
Throughout the 90s, McShane was mostly absent from both the big screen and the small one. However, in 2000, he received recognition for playing a tough crime boss in the critically acclaimed Sexy Beast. It was certainly this hard-edged persona that attracted the producers of HBO's Deadwood to McShane. In 2004, he found himself with a regular gig on the foul-mouthed Western series, starring as an unscrupulous tavern-owner in a lawless 19th-century American prospecting town. He stayed with the show for its entire run, soon moving on to star as Max in the Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, before signing on to star in the NBC drama Kings in 2008. Loosely based on the story of King David, the show followed the story of a dynastic family in present-day America, but was cancelled after just a season. He went on to appear in the quirky thriller A 44 Inch Chest, before joining the likes of Donald Sutherland in the fantasy mini-series The Pillars of the Earth in 2010. Sticking with the fantastical theme, McShane next signed on to play the legendary pirate Blackbeard in the 2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
In years to come, McShane would appear in several films, like Snow White and the Huntsman, as well as the mini series Pillars of the Earth.