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David Thewlis Biography


Home > Actors > T > Thewlis, David > Biography


Birth Name: David Thewlis
Born: 03/20/1963
Birth Place: Blackpool, England, GB


A slave to twin passions of music and acting, Thewlis performed Simon & Garfunkel songs in clubs in order to earn his equity card. Meanwhile, Thewlis began appearing in commercials and on stage and snared a few small roles in film and on British television, including the movie-of-the-week "The Singing Detective" (PBS, 1988), "Skulduggery" (1989) and "Life Is Sweet" (1990), directed by Mike Leigh. Though his role "Life Is Sweet" was small, Thewlis impressed Leigh enough to be cast for the lead role in "Naked" (1993). His performance as a Johnny, a down-and-out, yet intelligent drifter in Manchester whose brutal treatment of women defies convention as he lives outside the social norm of late-20th century England, earned Thewlis several awards for best actor, including that of the New York Critics, National Society of Film Critics, and the London Film Critics Circle.

Thewlis went on to amass a resume of divergent roles, ranging from kid's movies to dark independents to big budget Hollywood productions. His next role after "Naked" was opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in "Total Eclipse" (1995), an indie drama about the turbulent relationship between French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. His next role became very special to the actor: as the voice of Earthworm in "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), Thewlis was subsequently asked on birthdays and other occasions to reprise his role for the children of friends and relatives. Next for Thewlis came a forgettable performance in an equally forgettable movie, "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1996), John Frankenheimer's weak attempt to put H.G. Wells' novel on screen. Justifiably, the movie was universally panned.

Thewlis next starred in "Dragonheart" (1996), playing Einon, a medieval king whose despotic reign belies the near-death promise he made when he was a boy. Not particularly thrilled with the script, and without an opinion on the final product, Thewlis nonetheless enjoyed working on the project despite pressure from his agent to do a studio film. In April 1996, Thewlis directed a short film he wrote called "Hello Hello Hello?" (1998) and later received an honorable BAFTA Award nomination for his effort. Thewlis meanwhile continued acting, starting opposite Brad Pitt in "Seven Years in Tibet" (1997), or as the crew liked to call it, "Five Years on This Set". His performance didn't earn Thewlis any award nominations, but he was banned from ever visiting China.

After a small role in the Coen Brother's "The Big Lebowski" (1998), Thewlis starred opposite Thandie Newton in "Besieged" (1999), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. In this romantic drama, Thewlis played a shy English composer living in a palatial Rome estate with his African housekeeper (Newton), with whom he falls in love. In "Gangster No. 1", Thewlis plays an old associate of Gangster 55 (Malcolm McDowell) who gets released from prison after a 30-year stint. And in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004), Thewlis played Professor Remis Lupin in the third adaptation of the popular novels. To top off a busy career, Thewlis directed his first feature-length film, "Cheeky" (2003), a comedy that was shown at the London Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.

Thewlis returned in front of the camera for "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005), playing a monk watching over the son (Orlando Bloom) of a knight (Liam Neeson) in this epic historical drama taking place in the relative calm between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades of the 12th century. He then had a supporting role in Terrance Malick's "The New World" (2005), a lyrical, but ultimately meandering take on the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 and the ensuing love affair between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and a young Native American girl, Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher). Thewlis then signed on to appear in the inexplicable sequel, "Basic Instinct 2" (2006), starring Sharon Stone as the vampy novelist Catherine Tramell, who once again lures an unsuspecting man (David Morrissey) into a murderous trap.

After a key role in the unnecessary 2006 remake of the horror classic "The Omen," Thewlis starred as the title character in Paul Auster's little-seen drama "The Inner Life of Martin Frost" (2007) and reprised his role as the heroic Lupin in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007). In 2008, he had a supporting part in the lauded Holocaust drama "The Boy with the Striped Pajamas" and subsequently returned to the Potter fold for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009), as well as the concluding chapters of the fantasy saga "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" (2010) and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (2011).

With the Potter films continuing to bring in a sizeable paycheck, Thewlis was able to comfortably pursue smaller projects, including the drug-trade biopic "Mr. Nice" (2010), with Rhys Ifans, and "London Boulevard" (2010), a crime thriller starring Colin Farrell. Appearing in "Anonymous" (2011), another drama featuring Ifans, Thewlis stuck to other period pieces, portraying the husband of a dedicated Burmese politician in Luc Beeson's "The Lady" (2011) and an unpleasant landlord in Steven Spielberg's World War I-era film "War Horse" (2011). Following a little time away from the spotlight, Thewlis revisited blockbuster fare, playing the enigmatic character of The Frog in the action sequel "Red 2" (2013).