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Simon Callow
Born Simon Phillip Hugh Callow
15 June 1949 (1949-06-15) (age 60)
Streatham, London, UK
Occupation Theatre director, actor

Simon Phillip Hugh Callow, CBE[1] (born 15 June 1949) is an English actor, writer and theatre director.

Contents

Biography

Early years

Callow was born in Streatham, London, UK, to Yvonne Mary Guise, a secretary, and Neil Francis Callow, a businessman.[2] He attended the London Oratory School and then went on to study at the Queen's University of Belfast before giving up his degree course to go into acting at Drama Centre London.

Career

Callow made his stage debut in 1973 with The Thrie Estates, Assembly Hall Theatre, Edinburgh. In the early 1970s he joined the Gay Sweatshop theatre company and performed in Martin Sherman's critically acclaimed Passing By.[3][4] In 1977 he took various parts in the Joint Stock Theatre Company's production of Epsom Downs and in 1979 he starred in Snoo Wilson's The Soul of the White Ant at the Soho Poly.[5]

He made his first film appearance in Amadeus in 1984 (having played Mozart in the original stage production at the Royal National Theatre). His first television role was in Carry On Laughing episode "Orgy and Bess", in 1975, but it was apparently cut from the final print. He starred in several series of the Channel 4 situation comedy, Chance in a Million, as Tom Chance, an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like this and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral brought him a wider audience than his many critically acclaimed stage appearances.

At the same time, Callow was successful both as a director and as a writer. His Being An Actor (1984) was a critique of 'director dominated' theatre, in addition to containing autobiographical sections relating to his early career as an actor. At a time when subsidised theatre in the UK was under severe pressure from the Thatcher government, the work's original appearance caused a minor controversy. In 1995 he directed a stage version of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis for the RSC. The production was not a success. Callow has also directed opera productions.

One of Callow's best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, a poignant analysis of his eleven-year relationship with Peggy Ramsay (1908-91), a prominent British theatrical agent from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has also written extensively about Charles Dickens, whom he has played in a one-man show, The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, in the film Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale, and on television several times including An Audience with Charles Dickens (BBC, 1996) and in "The Unquiet Dead", a 2005 episode of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who.

Callow appeared with Saeed Jaffrey in 1994 British television series Little Napoleons. In 1996 Callow directed Cantabile in three musical pieces (Commuting, The Waiter's Revenge, Ricercare No. 4) composed by his friend Stephen Oliver. Ricercare No. 4 was commissioned by Callow especially for Cantabile. He voice-acted the sly and traitorous, Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo. In 2004, he appeared on a Comic Relief episode of Little Britain for charity causes. In 2006, he wrote a piece for the BBC1 programme This Week bemoaning the lack of characters in modern politics. He has starred as Count Fosco, the villain of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White, in film (1997) and on stage (2005, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End).

In December 2004, he hosted the London Gay Men's Chorus' Christmas Show, Make the Yuletide Gay at the Barbican Centre in London. He is currently one of the Patrons of the Michael Chekhov Studio London. Callow narrated the audio book of Robert Fagles' 2006 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid.

In July 2006 the World renowned London Oratory School Schola announced Callow as one of their new patrons. In November 2007 he threatened to resign the post over controversy surrounding the Terrence Higgins Trust (an AIDS charity of which Callow is also a patron). Other patrons of the Catholic choir are HRH Princess Michael of Kent and the leading Scottish composer James MacMillan. He reprized his role as Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo and voice-acted the wild and action-seeking Hunter aswell

From 11 July 2008 to 3 August, Callow appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada in his new one man show There Reigns Love, a play about the poetry of William Shakespeare[6] and also in 2008, he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival performing "Dr Marigold" & "Mr Chops" by Charles Dickens, adapted & directed by Patrick Garland ; repeating them from December 2009 to January 2010 at the Riverside Studios.

In February 2008, he played the psychiatrist in Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Peter Shaffer's Equus.

Between March and August 2009, he starred as Pozzo in Sean Mathias' production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett opposite Sir Ian McKellen (Estragon), Patrick Stewart (Vladimir) and also Ronald Pickup (Lucky). The tour opened in Malvern before travelling to Milton Keynes, Brighton, Bath, Norwich, Edinburgh and Newcastle; its run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket was extended due to demand.

He has also written biographies of Orson Welles and Charles Laughton. Callow was also the reader of The Twits and The Witches in the Puffin Roald Dahl Audio Books Collection (ISBN 978-0-140-92255-4). He also was the reader of several abridged PG Wodehouse, Jeeves books including Very Good, Jeeves and Aunts Aren't Gentlemen.

Personal life

Callow is one of the most prominent gay actors in Britain, listed 28th in the Independent's 2007 listing of the most influential gay men and women in the UK.[7] In 1999 he was awarded the CBE for his services to acting.

Callow's last partner was director Daniel Kramer. They shared a house in Camden, North London,[8] but have now ended their relationship.[9][10]

He was one of the first actors publicly to declare his homosexuality, doing so in his 1984 book Being An Actor. (In another he revealed his platonic affair with the theatrical agent Peggy Ramsay who was 40 years his senior.) 'I'm not really an activist', he says, 'although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference and I think my coming out as a gay man was probably one of the most valuable things I've done in my life. I don't think any actor had done so voluntarily and I think it helped to change the culture.'

Simon Callow: Laughter in the dark, interview[11] The Independent 2004

Filmography

Film

Year Title Character Production
1984 Amadeus Emanuel Schikaneder/Papageno
1985 The Good Father Mark Varda
A Room with a View The Reverend Mr. Beebe Merchant Ivory
1987 Maurice Mr. Ducie Merchant Ivory
1988 Manifesto Police Chief Hunt
1990 Postcards from the Edge Simon Asquith
Mr. & Mrs. Bridge Dr. Alex Sauer Merchant Ivory
1991 The Ballad of the Sad Cafe director only Merchant Ivory
1991 Howards End Music and Meaning Lecturer (cameo) Merchant Ivory
1992 Soft Top Hard Shoulder Eddie Cherdowski
1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral Gareth
Street Fighter A.N. Official
1995 England, My England Charles II
Victory Zangiacomo
Jefferson in Paris Richard Cosway Merchant Ivory
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Vincent Cadby
1996 James and the Giant Peach Grasshopper (voice)
1998 The Scarlet Tunic Captain Fairfax
Bedrooms and Hallways Keith
Shakespeare in Love Sir Edmund Tilney
1999 Around the World in 80 Days Phileas Fogg (voice)
Junk
2001 No Man's Land Soft
2002 Thunderpants Sir John Osgood
Merci Docteur Rey Bob
2003 Bright Young Things King of Anatolia
2004 George and the Dragon King Edgar
The Phantom of the Opera Andre
2005 Rag Tale Fat Boy
The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Mr. Wroth
Bob the Butler Mr. Butler
2006 Sabina Eugene Bleuler
2007 Chemical Wedding Professor Haddo/Aleister Crowley
Arn – The Knight Templar Father Henry

Television

Date Title Character Broadcaster
2008 The Mr. Men Show narrator Five
2007 The Company Elihu
2007 How Gay Sex Changed the World[12] himself Channel 4
2007 Derren Brown - "Trick or Treat: Episode 4" guest Channel 4
2006 Midsomer Murders: "Dead Letters" Doctor Richard Wellow ITV
2006 Classical Destinations[13][14] Narrator Sky Arts
2005 Rome Publius Servilius BBC
2005 Doctor Who - "The Unquiet Dead" Charles Dickens BBC
2004 Shoebox Zoo Wolfgang the Wolf BBC Scotland
2003 Angels in America Prior Walter Ancestor #2 Avenue Pictures Productions
2001 Don't Eat The Neighbours Fox & Bear CITV
1998 Trial & Retribution II Rupert Halliday La Plante Productions
1996 An Audience With Charles Dickens 1996, Ambassador Theatre, London Charles Dickens BBC
1994 Little Napoleons Edward Feathers Channel 4
1987 Inspector Morse: The Wolvercote Tongue Theodore Kemp ITV
1986 Dead Head Hugo Silver BBC
1984 Chance in a Million Tom Chance Channel 4
1981 The Man of Destiny Napoleon BBC

Bibliography

.

References

  1. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours: The Full List". The Independent. 12 June 1999. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/queens-birthday-honours-the-full-list-1099582.html.  
  2. ^ "Simon Callow Biography". filmreference. 2008. http://www.filmreference.com/film/69/Simon-Callow.html. Retrieved 2008-09-01.  
  3. ^ Michael Church (1975-06-20). "Passing By". The Times. p. 13.  
  4. ^ Callow, Simon (31 October 2008). "Sexual healing: From The Boys in the Band to Brokeback Mountain, gay roles in cinema have come a long way from their tortured beginnings.". The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/oct/31/gay-roles.  
  5. ^ Snoo Wilson, Plays 1, Methuen 1999
  6. ^ "Stratford Shakespeare Festival - There Reigns Love". Stratford Festival. http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/plays/reigns.cfm. Retrieved 2008-02-05.  
  7. ^ "Gay Power: The pink list". The Independent. 02 July 2006. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/gay-power-the-pink-list-406297.html.  
  8. ^ Wolf, Matt (2006-11-21). "An American's bravura on the London stage". Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/10/24/opinion/LON25.php. Retrieved 2008-01-26.  
  9. ^ Devine, Rachel (August 10, 2008). "Callow brings Dickens to the Festival". The Sunday Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/specials/edinburgh/article4491937.ece.  
  10. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (06 May 2009). "Daniel Kramer: 'I want to explore the dark side'". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturecritics/rupertchristiansen/5250658/Daniel-Kramer-I-want-to-explore-the-dark-side.html.  
  11. ^ Byrnes, Sholto (26 April 2004). "Simon Callow: Laughter in the dark". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/simon-callow-laughter-in-the-dark-561274.html.  
  12. ^ "40 Years On". Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/0-9/40_years_on/how-gay-sex-changed-the-world.html. Retrieved 2008-01-26.  
  13. ^ Sky Arts review of Simon Callow's Classical Destinations
  14. ^ Matt Wills, Simon Callow, Paul Burrows, Wendy McDougall (2007). Classical Destinations: An Armchair Guide to Classical Music. Amadeus Press. pp. 235. ISBN 9781574671582.  

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