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Simon Russell Beale: Wikis


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Simon Russell Beale
Born 12 January 1961 (1961-01-12) (age 49)
Penang, Malaya
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present

Simon Russell Beale, CBE (born 12 January 1961) is an English actor. He has been described as "the greatest stage actor of his generation."[1]


Early years

Beale was born to General Peter Beale, and Julia Winter in Penang, Malaya, where his father served as a physician.[2] Several members of his family had careers in medicine. He was first drawn to performance when, at the age of eight, he became a chorister at St. Paul's Cathedral, and a pupil at the adjoining St Paul's Cathedral School.

Aged 14 he gave his first theatre performance playing Desdemona in Othello at the independent school Clifton College's Redgrave Theatre; in the sixth form he also performed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a play in which he would later star at the National Theatre. After Clifton, he went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and obtained a first in English, after which he was offered a place to do a PhD. He graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1983.


Beale first came to the attention of theatre-goers in the late 1980s with a series of lauded comic performances, on occasion extremely camp, in such plays as The Man of Mode by George Etherege and Restoration by Edward Bond at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He broadened his range in the early 1990s with moving performances as Konstantin in Chekhov's The Seagull, as Oswald in Ibsen's Ghosts, Ferdinand in The Duchess of Malfi and as Edgar in King Lear. It was at the RSC that he first worked with Sam Mendes who directed him there as Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, as Richard III and as a striking Ariel in The Tempest, in the last of which he revealed a fine tenor voice.

Sam Mendes also directed him as Iago in Othello at the Royal National Theatre and in Mendes' farewell productions at the Donmar Warehouse, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, in which he played the title role, and Twelfth Night, in which Beale played Malvolio.

Since 1995 he has been a regular at the National Theatre where his roles have included Mosca in Ben Jonson's Volpone opposite Michael Gambon, George in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers and the lead in Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones written especially for him. In 1999 he was a key part of Trevor Nunn's ensemble, playing in Leonard Bernstein's Candide, Edward Bulwer Lytton's Money and Maxim Gorky's Summerfolk. In autumn 2006 he played Galileo in David Hare's adaption of Brecht's Life of Galileo and as Face in The Alchemist. From December 2007 to March 2008 he played Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing directed by Nicholas Hytner and from February to July 2008, he played Andrew Undershaft in Hytner's production of Shaw's Major Barbara; he then appeared in Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache and "Landscape".

In 2005, Beale was directed by Deborah Warner as Cassius in Julius Caesar alongside Ralph Fiennes as Antony. That same year, he played the title role in Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre. In 2007 he reprised his Broadway role as King Arthur in the Monty Python musical Spamalot at the Palace Theatre, London

In the spring of 2009 Beale and Sam Mendes collaborated on The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard, in which Russell Beale played Leontes and Lopakhin respectively, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, later transferring to the Old Vic Theatre.[3][4]

In 1997 he portrayed the pivotal role of Kenneth Widmerpool in a television adaptation of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, for which he won the Best Actor award at the British Academy Television Awards in 1998. He also played the King of Hearts in a 1999 television adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. In both of these he played the spouse of two characters played by Miranda Richardson, Pamela Flitton in the former and the Queen of Hearts in the latter.

In 2008 he made his début as a television presenter, fronting the BBC Four series Sacred Music about Western church music.

In 2009 he plays George Smiley in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of all the John Le Carré novels in which Smiley features. These are to be aired over the succeeding 12 months.

Personal life

He is President of the Anthony Powell Society, a tribute to his portrayal of Kenneth Widmerpool. In the Independent on Sunday 2006 Pink List - a list of the most influential gay men and women in the UK - he was placed at number 30, an increase of four places from the year before.


Selected theatreogreaphy

  • Constantin, The Seagull, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1991
  • Ariel, The Tempest, Stratford, England, 1994
  • The Duchess of Malfi, Greenwich and West End, 1995
  • Mosca, Volpone, Royal National Theatre, London, 1995
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Royal National Theatre, 1996
  • Iago, Othello, Royal National Theatre, 1997-1998
  • Alfred Evelyn, Money, Royal National Theatre, 1999
  • Battle Royal, Royal National Theatre, 1999-2000
  • Title role, Hamlet, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City, 2001
  • Humble Boy, Royal National Theatre, 2001
  • Title role, Uncle Vanya, Donmar Warehouse, London, 2002, then Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2003
  • Twelfth Night, Donmar Warehouse, 2002
  • Also appeared as Sir Politic Wouldbe, Volpone; title role, Richard III; and in The Man of Mode; Troilus and Cressida; Die Hose, Traverse Theatre; The Death of Elias Sawney, Traverse Theatre; Sandro Manon, Traverse Theatre; Look to the Rainbow, Apollo Theatre; Women Beware Women, Royal Court Theatre; A Winter's Tale; Everyman in His Humour; The Art of Success; The FairMaid of the West; Speculators; The Storm; The Constant Couple; Restoration; Some Americans Abroad; Mary and Lizzie; Playing with Trains; Edward II; Love's Labour's Lost; King Lear; Ghosts; Candide; Summerfolk.

Awards and honours


  1. ^ David Lister (22 February 2008). "Inside the World of Theatre's Most Reluctant Hero". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  2. ^ "Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-22.  
  3. ^ Bradley, Ben (23 February 2009). "Alas, Poor Leontes (That Good King Has Not Been Himself of Late)". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-25.  
  4. ^ Spencer, Charles (10 June 2009). "The Winter's Tale, The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-06-25. "Simon Russell Beale, for my money this country's greatest stage actor, stars in both shows"  

External links

Preceded by
Tim Curry
17 March 2005 (Opening) -
20 December 2005
Actor playing King Arthur on Spamalot
21 December 2005 -
26 April 2006
Succeeded by
Harry Groener
27 April 2006 -
31 October 2006


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