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Matthew MacFadyen Biography

Home > Actors > M > MacFadyen, Matthew > Biography

Birth Name: Matthew MacFadyen
Born: 10/17/1974
Birth Place: Norfolk, England, GB

David Matthew Macfadyen was born Oct. 17, 1974 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. His mother was an actress and drama teacher, and his grandfather a director of amateur theater. He attended schools in England, Scotland and Indonesia before he enrolled in Oakham School in Rutland to study drama. At age 17, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he remained from 1992-1995, and upon graduation, joined renowned theater company Cheek and Jowl. With a 1995 production of "The Duchess of Malfi" as Antonio; a 1996 production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as Demetrius, and a 1998 production of "Much Ado About Nothing" as Benedick, Macfadyen became a much-lauded and sought-after British stage actor, whose first foray into television was in the updated "Wuthering Heights" (PBS, 1998). The actor next drew raves with "Warriors" ("Peacekeepers") (BBC One, 1999); the BAFTA-winning Best TV Drama told the disheartening tale of a British group of peacekeepers who served in Bosnia during the 1993 ethnic cleansing.

Continuing with numerous performances, Macfadyen was part of the comedy ensemble of "Maybe Baby" (2000), a submarine commander in Michael Apted's "Enigma" (2001), and won raves as the dutiful son who uncovered revelations at his family reunion in "Perfect Strangers" (BBC Two, 2001). Macfadyen next joined the television show that became his proper homeland introduction. "Spooks" ("MI-5") (BBC One, 2002- ) was the suspense drama that Macfadyen starred in until 2004, as Tom Quinn, the Senior Case Officer made to thwart terrorists in his quest for democracy. Not only did the TV thriller place Macfadyen on the radar, but the actor also married his co-star, Keeley Hawes, in 2004, two months before the birth of their first child. Also that year, Macfadyen won the New Zealand Screen Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a war photographer in the drama "In My Father's Den" (2004).

In the much-lauded classic love story "Pride & Prejudice" (2005), Macfadyen received blissful praise for his sympathetic interpretation of Mr. Darcy opposite Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet. Off-screen, his second child was born in 2006. In Frank Oz's outrageous black comedy "Death at a Funeral" (2007), Macfadyen - whose real-life wife Hawes played his spouse - was the central calming figure amidst familial chaos as he attends his father's anything-but-traditional memorial. Macfadyen next won the Royal Television Society's 2008 Best Actor Award for his controversial turn as a recently released pedophile seeking help to control his predilection toward children in "Secret Life" (Channel 4, 2007). Later, Macfadyen found himself part of the lauded ensemble in the Oscar-nominated rendition - based on Peter Morgan's celebrated play - of the historic televised encounter between disgraced President Richard Nixon and British talk-show host David Frost, in "Frost/Nixon" (2008). In the film, directed by Ron Howard, Macfadyen played Frost's tenacious producer, John Birt.

Continuing his hot streak, Macfadyen starred in the 14-episode satirical Dickens miniseries "Little Dorrit" (BBC One, 2008). The serial won several Emmys and was revered as much in the U.S. as the U.K. Opposite Helena Bonham Carter, Macfadyen was featured as the husband of "Enid" (BBC, 2009), the dramatic tale of the beloved author Enid Blyton, and her preference for her adoring public over her family. The actor next joined Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in Sherwood Forest for the epic days of archer Sir Robin Longstride's rise to infamy in "Robin Hood" (2010). With a monster budget, elaborate action sequences, and all-star cast helmed by Ridley Scott, the film featured Macfadyen in the central role of the conflicted Sheriff of Nottingham. Though the movie received decidedly mixed reviews, most critics glowingly acknowledged Macfadyen in his role. In one of his more high-profile television projects, he headlined a joint Canadian and German co-produced miniseries adaptation of Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" (CBC/TMN, 2010). The mid-12th-century tale detailed the building of a cathedral in Kingsbridge, England, and featured Macfadyen as both a monk and the munificent ruler of Kingsbridge. Switching to swashbuckling mode as Athos in a big-budget remake of "The Three Musketeers" (2011), he also reunited with "Pride & Prejudice" director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley for another literary adaptation, the 2012 version of "Anna Karenina." The same year, Macfadyen returned to his scrappier television roots, portraying the lead character of Detective Inspector Edmund Reid on the gritty period crime series "Ripper Street" (BBC, 2012-).