Stephen Dillane

Active - 1959 - 2020  |   Born - Nov 30, 1956 in Kensington, London, England  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

A well-respected stage and TV actor who has also appeared in a number of films in his native England, Stephen Dillane is blessed with both exceptional talent and the kind of dark, wry good looks that allow him to move effortlessly through a variety of characterizations.

Raised in South London as the son of a surgeon, Dillane first became involved in theatre while in school. He studied history and politics at Exeter University and then did a stint as a journalist for the Croydon Advertiser. As he developed an intense and unswerving hatred for journalism very early on, Dillane was soon casting his thoughts toward an alternate career and, after a few years, decided to chuck journalism for acting. After studying his adopted profession at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school, he began finding work on the stage and was soon racking up positive notices. His theatrical credits grew throughout the 1990s, with critically acclaimed work in the 1994 Peter Hall production of Hamlet, in which Dillane was cast as the eponymous Dane, and the London production of Angels in America.

Dillane first struck a responsive chord with British TV viewers in 1994, when he starred in The Rector's Wife. He went on to do starring screen work in Henry Jaglom's Deja Vu (1997), in which he played a painter, Firelight (1997), which cast him as a 19th-century aristocrat opposite Sophie Marceau, and Michael Winterbottom's Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), which featured Dillane as a journalist. In 2000, the actor received a Tony Award for his portrayal of a brilliant but emotionally evasive playwright in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, earning a new level of respect and recognition on both sides of the Atlantic.

Throughout the early part of the 2000's, Dillane appeared in an increasing number of high-profile films. In 2001 he was onscreen with the likes of Robert Redford and Brad Pitt in Spy Game, and in 2002 he could be seen in The Truth About Charlie, Jonathan Demme's remake of Charade, and the critically-acclaimed The Hours. His next big-screen role would be as Merlin in Antoine Fuqua's 2004 historical retelling of the story of King Arthur. As the next several years came to pass, Dillane would appear in many more projects, like Savage Grace and 44 Inch Chest, as well as TV series like Game of Thrones and Coup.

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  • Began working as a journalist for the Croydon Advertiser after studying history and political science in college, but quit to become an actor after reading an article about Trevor Eve, who gave up architecture for a thespian career.
  • Enrolled at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1982 to study drama, which later led to starring roles in a 1993 London production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America and Peter Hall's 1994 production of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  • Gained international renown as an actor by playing a journalist, his former profession, in 1998's Welcome to Sarajevo.
  • Won a BAFTA Best Actor award for the British TV-movie The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall (2008).