James Purefoy

Active - 1992 - 2020  |   Born - Jun 3, 1964 in Taunton, Somerset, England  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Horror, Romance, Epic

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A classically trained British actor who nearly became the successor to the James Bond franchise, handsome and talented James Purefoy made himself known to stateside audiences with roles in such high-profile releases as A Knight's Tale (2001) and Resident Evil (2002). Born James Brian Mark Purefoy (his surname meaning "good faith" in Norman French) in Taunton, Somerset, England, in 1964, Purefoy received his early education at the all-boys Sherbourne School (alma mater to such actors as Jeremy Irons) before later refining his acting abilities at the London School of Drama. After receiving his Actor's Equity Card following a stage performance of Equus, Purefoy joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and essayed stage roles in performances of such classics as King Lear and The Tempest. It wasn't long before Purefoy began to hunger for something more, and after making his small-screen debut in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (1990), a career in television and films soon followed. Alternating between the small (Sharpe's Sword [1995], The Tide of Life [1996]) and silver (Jilting Joe [1997], Mansfield Park [1999]) screens for the majority of the 1990s, Purefoy began to gain more prominent roles in such romantic comedies as Bedrooms and Hallways (1998) and Maybe Baby (2000) around the time of the millennial turnover. The inevitable Hollywood becoming too much to resist, the talented actor began to turn up in such big-budgeted fare as A Knight's Tale and Resident Evil soon thereafter.

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  • Left Sherborne School at age 16, then enrolled in night school to finish his O-levels.
  • Worked as a hospital orderly for several years after leaving school.
  • Took up acting while studying for his A-levels at Brooklands Technical College because he was in need of a third subject and, as importantly, the girl-boy ratio in the class was 3 to 1.
  • His first acting job was as Alan Strang in a touring production of Equus.
  • Acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company for several years after leaving drama school.