Ian McShane

Ian McShane, son of professional footballer Harry McShane, departed from London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts before completing his degree to make his debut in the film "The Wild and the Willing" (1962), alongside John Hurt, a fellow schoolmate. After minor roles in television series, he gained attention for his portrayal of Heathcliff in a notable adaptation of Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" in 1967. This role opened doors to his cinematic career, notably as one of the fighter pilots in Guy Hamilton's "Battle of Britain" (1969), alongside Michael Caine. Over the ensuing years, he acted alongside distinguished actors such as Ava Gardner in the TV film "The Ballad of Tam Lin" (1970), Richard Burton in "Villain" (1971), Oliver Reed in "The Last Valley" (1971), and Sean Connery in "A Touch of Class" (1973). In 1977, he portrayed Judas Iscariot in Franco Zeffirelli's mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth". However, despite these early successes, his career saw a decline thereafter. During the 1980s, apart from a leading role in James Toback's "Exposed" (1983) alongside Harvey Keitel and Nastassja Kinski, McShane predominantly appeared on television. He continued to feature in TV movies and guest roles in popular series such as "Magnum", "Dallas", "Miami Vice", and "Columbo". He did participate in notable productions, such as portraying Prince Rainier in the TV film "Grace Kelly" (1983), shortly after the actress' death, and playing Charlie Chaplin's father in the series "Young Charlie Chaplin" (1989). His most significant TV role during this period was in the BBC series "Ruth Rendell Mysteries" (1986-1994), alongside his wife Gwen Humble. Despite his television focus, McShane maintained a presence on stage, which revitalized his career. In 2001, McShane returned to prominence with roles in the TV series "The West Wing" opposite Martin Sheen, and as a trapped assassin in the noir film "Sexy Beast" alongside Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone. He also portrayed the antagonist in the family film "Agent Cody Banks". However, it was in 2003 that he achieved a career-defining role as Al Swearengen, the saloon owner in the series "Deadwood", which earned him critical acclaim including a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series and an Emmy nomination. He was named "Sexiest Villain" by People magazine in 2005 and recognized as one of GQ's "Men of the Year" for his compelling portrayal. Although "Deadwood" lasted only three seasons, McShane's role as Al Swearengen remains one of the highlights of his career, bringing him back into the spotlight. Post-"Deadwood", he appeared in films such as "Nine Lives" (2005), "Scoop" (2006), and "We Are Marshall" (2006). His distinctive voice, characterized by a deep gravelly tone and delightful British accent, further cemented his presence in Hollywood, voicing characters like Captain Hook in "Shrek the Third" and Ragnar the bear in "The Golden Compass" (2007). He continued with roles like the snow leopard in "Kung Fu Panda" (2008), the eccentric neighbor in "Coraline" (2009), and the narrator in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (2010). In 2009, McShane reunited with Ray Winstone and the writers of "Sexy Beast" for "44 Inch Chest", playing another cold and cunning character. Known for his affinity for villainous roles, he found further success portraying Bishop Waleran Bigod in the mini-series "The Pillars of the Earth" (2010), based on Ken Follett's bestseller, and as the fearsome pirate Blackbeard in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011).