Julian Wadham understands what it was like for boy actors to play female roles in the Shakespeare era. When he was attending Ampleforth College Junior School -- a Catholic academy in Yorkshire for boys eight to 13 -- he portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in a school play. The experience not only taught him a lesson in stage history, but it also trained him in the rudiments of acting and whet his appetite for theater. Today, critics recognize him as one of Britain's better actors. His roles in Our Country's Good, Serious Money, and Another Country helped those dramas win Best Play Laurence Olivier Awards in the 1980s. He also won Royal Television Society Awards for Goodbye Cruel World in 1992 and Blind Justice in 1989.
If one may gauge an actor -- in part, at least -- by the reputation of his co-stars, then Wadham measures up. Among the actors with whom he has exchanged dialogue are Bob Hoskins, John Hurt, Gérard Depardieu, Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Ian Holm, Ben Kingsley, and Wendy Hiller.
Wadham was born in England on August 7, 1958. After graduating from London's Central School of Speech and Drama in 1980, he performed in various television and stage productions over the next decade, earning a 1983 nomination as Most Promising Newcomer from the London Theatre Critics for his role in Falkland South. In the 1990s, he achieved worldwide recognition for roles as Sir James Chettam in the acclaimed TV miniseries Middlemarch and Madox in the Oscar-winning film The English Patient. His role as Queen Elizabeth in his youth foreshadowed later parts as government leaders, including portrayals of William Pitt in The Madness of King George, the prime minister in The Commissioner, King Polixines in The Winter's Tale, and the assistant commissioner in The Secret Agent. His good looks and aristocratic bearing make him a popular choice among casting directors seeking a proper gentleman at home with beautiful women and high society. Wadham performs frequently for Britain's National Theatre in productions of such esteemed directors and producers as Richard Eyre, Harold Pinter, Peter Gill, Stuart Burge, and Max Stafford-Clark.