Ian McShane

Ian McShane Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: September 29, 1942

Age: 81 years old

Birth Place: Blackburn, Lancashire, England, UK

British actor Ian McShane had a long, venerable career, though for most of it he remained unknown to American audiences, despite frequent appearances on television and in movies. One of his better known roles - as the smooth-talking criminal mastermind Teddy Bass in Jonathan Glazer's stylish crime thriller, "Sexy Beast" (2001) - allowed McShane a proper introduction.

Though most of the accolades went to fellow Englishman Ben Kingsley for his scathing performance as the barking-mad bank robber Don Logan, McShane received his share of good notices for his portrayal of the sinister financier of a heist that eventually goes bad. But his most recognized and rewarded role came 42 years after his first onscreen performance. Playing the beguiling Al Swearengen, a cruel, calculating saloon owner on the acclaimed Western revival, "Deadwood" (HBO, 2003-06), McShane had the chance to play what the actor called "the best role I ever had," while finally making himself a household name.

Following that success, McShane moved into a comfortable string of character roles on series including "Ray Donovan" (Showtime 2013- ) and "Game of Thrones" (HBO 2011- ).

Born on Sept. 29, 1942 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, McShane was enamored with cowboys and Indians as a child - a fascination that later paid off when he turned actor. His father, Harry McShane, played football for Manchester United, and though his son was a fair player, he never harbored any ambitions of becoming a professional footballer. McShane got into acting as a student in secondary school when a teacher recognized his talent and asked him to perform in a play. He did and felt comfortable with the experience.

The same teacher later helped McShane get into the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where the lad honed his craft until 1962 when he left the academy a semester shy of graduation to appear in his first motion picture, "The Wild and the Willing" (1962). In this low-key drama, McShane played a troublemaker prone to drinking and lashing out at his elitist professors. Though not a commercial or critical hit, the movie did offer McShane a spotlight to display his nascent talents.

McShane spent the next couple of decades amassing an impressive array of film, television and theater credits. After playing a handsome gypsy who woos a traumatized rural woman - much to the chagrin of her parents - in "Gypsy Girl" (1966), McShane starred alongside such notable British actors as Michael Caine, Trevor Howard and Harry Andrews in Guy Hamilton's World War II epic, "The Battle of Britain" (1969).

Between the two film projects, he appeared onstage in the original version of "Loot" (1965) by playwright Joe Orton, one of McShane's good drinking buddies, then made his Broadway debut in a production of "The Promise" (1967). He returned to film alongside another drinking buddy, Richard Burton, for "Villain" (1971), in which he played a petty thief and bisexual lover of a gang leader (Burton) who gets involved in blackmailing sexually deviant members of Parliament. In 1973, he joined another all-star cast for the suspenseful murder-mystery, "The Last of Sheila," co-starring James Mason, James Coburn and Raquel Welch.

During the mid-1970s, McShane appeared in several high-profile miniseries, including David Wolper's seminal work, "Roots" (ABC, 1977), and "Jesus of Nazareth" (CBS, 1977), in which he played Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Numerous other projects small and large attracted McShane: he played Ali Ben Yousef in the sprawling historical drama, "Marco Polo" (NBC, 1982), then in "Grace Kelly" (ABC, 1983) he was Prince Rainier of Monaco, who marries the elegant Oscar-winning actress.

Next he was the son of a prosperous Fifth Avenue family who has an affair with the wife (Lesley Ann Warren) of a wealthy entrepreneur (Armand Assante) in the three-part miniseries, "Evergreen" (NBC, 1985). In "A.D." (NBC, 1985), an historical drama that picked up where "Jesus of Nazareth" left off, McShane played Sejanus, a powerful member of the Praetorian Guard during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius who was later responsible for dating the death of Jesus. After a supporting role as Philip Rule in the epic 12-part miniseries "War and Remembrance" (ABC, 1988), McShane then appeared as Roger Bushell in "The Great Escape II: The Untold Story" (NBC, 1988), a two-part miniseries based upon the final section of the novel that inspired the classic World War II film, "The Great Escape" (1963).

In the late 1980s, the actor formed McShane Productions, which produced the beloved BBC series, "Lovejoy" (BBC, 1986-1994; A&E, 1991-96). McShane produced and directed episodes while starring as the title character, a loveable rogue who cannot avoid living hand-to-mouth while running an antiques store. Despite the show's popularity and success, McShane kept a low profile for much of the 1990s, popping up now and then in episodes of "Babylon 5" (syndicated, 1993-99), "The Naked Truth" (NBC/ABC, 1995-98), and "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006).

The impact of "Sexy Beast," which took many by surprise, helped reinvigorate his film career. He appeared soon after in the spy comedy, "Agent Cody Banks" (2003), starring Frankie Muniz.

With his role in "Deadwood," as the fictionalized version of the real-life Swearengen - a violent, but pragmatic capitalist who ran the 1870s mining camp with an iron fist - McShane essayed the role that many considered one of the most compelling villains to grace the small screen in decades. Cynical, amoral and unflinchingly violent, McShane's Swearengen stopped at nothing to serve his business interests, even if it meant butting heads with ruthless gold-mining magnate George Hearst (Gerald McRaney).

For his riveting portrayal, McShane won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama, and earned nominations for an Emmy Award in 2005 and a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2006. Meanwhile, he was part of a strong ensemble cast in Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives" (2005), an episodic drama centered around nine different women thematically connected through their various travails.

McShane played a disabled man whose daughter (Amanda Seyfried) refuses to attend an elite eastern college in order to mediate the failing marriage between him and his long suffering wife (Sissy Spacek).

While the third season of "Deadwood" was in full swing, McShane took a ninety-degree turn into comedy with "Scoop" (2006), playing an acclaimed journalist stuck in limbo after being killed and who contacts a naïve journalism student (Scarlett Johansson) and a mediocre magician (Woody Allen) in order to find the identity of the infamous Tarot Card Killer. Meanwhile, McShane's days as the indelible Swearengen came to an end when HBO suddenly released all the actors of "Deadwood" from their contracts, effectively canceling the beloved series.

Though an agreement between the network and creator David Milch was reached to conclude the interrupted series with two feature-length episodes, all parties were resigned to going their separate ways.

Returning to film, McShane played the grieving father of a football player killed in a plane crash in "We Are Marshall" (2006), starring Matthew McConaughey as an outsider who rebuilds the school's spirit after its team is decimated in the accident. McShane made his first foray into animated features in "The Golden Compass" (2007), giving voice to Ragnar Sturlsson and the previously silent Captain Hook in "Shrek the Third" (2007).

After a supporting role in the lighthearted sports comedy, "Hot Rod" (2007), McShane voiced the evil snow leopard Tai Lung in the animated hit "Kung Fu Panda" (2008), before appearing in "Death Race" (2008), a futuristic thriller about a group of prisoners-turned-drivers using heavily armed vehicles in a violent race.

Meanwhile, back on Broadway, McShane played Max in a 40th anniversary revival of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming." Following another voiceover role in the charming but edgy animated feature "Coraline" (2009), McShane was wooed back to primetime to star in "Kings" (NBC, 2009), a daring drama set in a modern day kingdom where McShane starred as a King David-based ruler whose future is uncertain.

The same year, McShane co-starred alongside Renee Zellweger in the psychological thriller "Case 39" (2009) and headed back to his homeland to appear in "44-inch Chest" (2009), a drama in which he starred as a man who discovers his wife is having an affair and whose thuggish friends step in to kidnap the "other man."

McShane returned to the small screen for the epic historical miniseries, "The Pillars of the Earth" (Starz, 2010), which was set in 12th century England in the fictitious town of Kingsbridge and followed the lives of three men amidst the building of a cathedral while they grapple with politics, war, romance and personal ambition.

Recalling his days as Al Swearengen, McShane cast an evil pall as the cleric Waleran Bigod, who uses any deplorable means to realize his ambition to become bishop. McShane's performance was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.

McShane continued to appear in character roles in big-budget films including "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012), and "Hercules" (2014), as well as a self-referential role in the Sacha Baron Cohen action-comedy "Grimsby" (2016). McShane also appeared in the drama series "Ray Donovan" (Showtime 2013- ) and fantasy epic "Game of Thrones" (HBO 2011- ).

Credits

Ballerina

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Winston
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Kung Fu Panda 4Stream

Voice
Tai Lung
Movie
2024
72%

American StarStream

Actor
Wilson
Movie
2024
78%

American StarStream

Producer
Movie
2024
78%

John Wick: Chapter 4Stream

Actor
Winston
Movie
2023
94%

Hercules: The Thracian Wars

Actor
Show
2022

My Father's Dragon

Voice
Movie
2022

The Kelly Clarkson ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2019

John Wick: Chapter 3 — ParabellumStream

Actor
Winston
Movie
2019
89%

HellboyStream

Actor
Professor Broom
Movie
2019
17%

Bolden

Actor
Judge Perry
Movie
2019

Master of Dark Shadows

Narrator
Movie
2019

Deadwood: The MovieStream

Actor
Al Swearengen
Movie
2019
98%

Deadwood: The MovieStream

Executive Producer
Movie
2019
98%

A Wizard's Tale

Voice
The Grump
Movie
2018

American GodsStream

Actor
Mr. Wednesday
Series
2017
77%

John Wick: Chapter 2Stream

Actor
Winston
Movie
2017
89%

Jawbone

Actor
Joe Padgett
Movie
2017

Pottersville

Actor
Movie
2017

Doctor ThorneStream

Actor
Sir Roger Scatcherd
Miniseries
2016
87%

The Brothers Grimsby

Actor
MI6 Spy Boss
Movie
2016

The Brothers Grimsby With Hilarious Outtakes

Actor
Movie
2016

The Hollow Point

Actor
Leland
Movie
2016

Doctor Thorne

Actor
Sir Roger Scatcherd
Movie
2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

Guest
Talk
2015

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

Voice
Umayya
Movie
2015

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

Guest
Talk
2014

HerculesStream

Actor
Amphiaraus
Movie
2014
58%

John WickStream

Actor
Winston
Movie
2014
86%

El niño

Actor
Inglés
Movie
2014

Cuban Fury

Actor
Ron Parfait
Movie
2014

Ray DonovanStream

Actor
Andrew Finney
Series
2013
72%

Ray DonovanStream

Guest Star
Andrew Finney
Series
2013
72%

How We Used to Live

Narrator
Movie
2013

Jack the Giant Slayer

Actor
King Brahmwell
Movie
2013

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Extras

Actor
Show
2012

American Horror Story: Asylum

Guest Star
Leigh Emerson
Show
2012

Snow White and the HuntsmanStream

Actor
Beith
Movie
2012
49%

Game of ThronesStream

Guest Star
Brother Ray
Series
2011
88%

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesStream

Actor
Blackbeard
Movie
2011
33%

The Pillars of the Earth

Actor
Miniseries
2010
77%

KingsStream

Actor
King Silas
Series
2009

Case 39Stream

Actor
Detective Mike Barron
Movie
2009
21%

CoralineStream

Voice
Mr. Bobinsky
Movie
2009
90%

44 Inch Chest

Actor
Meredith
Movie
2009

44 Inch Chest

Executive Producer
Movie
2009

Kung Fu PandaStream

Voice
Tai Lung
Movie
2008
87%

Death RaceStream

Actor
Coach
Movie
2008
41%

Shrek the ThirdStream

Voice
Captain Hook
Movie
2007
42%

Hot RodStream

Actor
Frank Powell
Movie
2007
39%

The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising

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Merriman Lyon
Movie
2007

The Golden CompassStream

Voice
Ragnar Sturlusson
Movie
2007
42%

Shrek the Third 3D

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Captain Hook
Movie
2007

The One Show

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2006

Scoop

Actor
Joe Strombel
Movie
2006

We Are Marshall

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Paul Griffin
Movie
2006

Nine Lives

Actor
Larry
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2005

DeadwoodStream

Actor
Al Swearengen
Series
2004
92%

Trust

Actor
Show
2004

Tavis Smiley

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Talk
2004

Agent Cody BanksStream

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Brinkman
Movie
2003
13%

Nemesis Game

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Jeff Novak
Movie
2003

The Twilight ZoneStream

Actor
Series
2002

Man and Boy

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Marty Mann
Movie
2002

Bollywood Queen

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Frank
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2002

Thieves

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2001

In Deep

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2001

Sexy BeastStream

Actor
Teddy Bass
Movie
2000
86%

The West WingStream

Guest Star
Russian Negotiator Nikolai Ivanovich
Series
1999
81%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Sir Tobias "Toby" Moore
Series
1999
78%

SpongeBob SquarePantsStream

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Gordon
Series
1999

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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Talk
1999

D.R.E.A.M. Team

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Oliver Maxwell
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1999

Babylon 5: River of Souls

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Robert Bryson
Movie
1998

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Traders of the Lost Scrolls

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1997

The Naked Truth

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Series
1995
64%

Soul Survivors

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Otis Cooke
Movie
1995

Reto Snooker

Actor
Movie
1994

White Goods

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Ian Deegan
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1994

Un coup de génie

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1991

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1991

Young Charlie Chaplin

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Charles Chaplin Snr
Show
1990

Chillers

Actor
Show
1990

Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception

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Andre Marchand
Movie
1990

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Artemis
Series
1989
85%

Pura Sangre

Actor
Movie
1989

Doblemente Oculto

Actor
Movie
1989

Misterios de Dick Francis: Doble Crimen

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Movie
1989

Sospecha Fatal

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1989

Blood Sport

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David Cleveland
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1989

In the Frame

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David Cleveland
Movie
1989

Twice Shy

Actor
David Cleveland
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1989

Young Charlie Chaplin

Actor
Charles Chaplin Snr
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1989

War and Remembrance

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Philip Rule
Miniseries
1988

The Great Escape II: The Untold Story

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Roger Bushell
Show
1988

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1988

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Roger Bushell
Movie
1988

La Gran Prueba

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Movie
1987

Grand Larceny

Actor
Flanagan
Movie
1987

La Gran Estafa

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Movie
1987

Lovejoy

Actor
Show
1986

Lovejoy

Director
Show
1986

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

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Prefect of Police
Movie
1986

The Doorman

Actor
Vincent Hardwick
Movie
1985

Too Scared to Scream

Actor
Vincent Hardwick
Movie
1985

Miami ViceStream

Guest Star
Esteban Montoya
Series
1984
71%

Inocencia Trágica

Actor
Movie
1984

Torchlight

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Sidney
Movie
1984

Ordeal by Innocence

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Philip Durant
Movie
1984

Grace Kelly

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Prince Rainier of Monaco
Movie
1983

Exposed

Actor
Greg Miller
Movie
1983

Magnum, P.I.Stream

Guest Star
Edwin Clutterbuck
Series
1980

Cheaper to Keep Her

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Dr. Alfred Sunshine
Movie
1980

High Tide

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Curtis
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1980

The Great Riviera Bank Robbery

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The Brain
Movie
1979

The Fifth Musketeer

Actor
Fouquet
Movie
1979

Yesterday's Hero

Actor
Rod Turner
Movie
1979

Les Égouts de l'or

Actor
Movie
1979

DallasStream

Guest Star
Soap
1978

The Pirate

Actor
Rashid
Movie
1978

Jesus of NazarethStream

Actor
Judas Iscariot
Miniseries
1977

Code Name: Diamond Head

Actor
Sean Donovan/Father Horton/Colonel Millard Butler
Movie
1977

Jésus de Nazareth

Actor
Judas Iscariot
Movie
1977

Space: 1999Stream

Actor
Anton Zoref
Series
1975
66%

The Lives of Jenny Dolan

Actor
Saunders
Movie
1975

Journey Into Fear

Actor
Banat
Movie
1975

Freelance

Actor
Mitch
Movie
1975

Voyage au pays de la peur

Actor
Movie
1975

Police Woman

Guest Star
Dan Markson
Series
1974

The Terrorists

Actor
Ray Petrie
Movie
1974
50%

The Last of SheilaStream

Actor
Anthony
Movie
1973
90%

Sitting Target

Actor
Birdy Williams
Movie
1972

ColumboStream

Guest Star
Leland St. John
Series
1971
84%

The Shakedown

Actor
Movie
1971

Tam Lin

Actor
Tom Lynn
Movie
1971

Villain

Actor
Wolfe Lissner
Movie
1971

Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You

Actor
Fred C. Dobbs
Movie
1970

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

Actor
Charlie Cartwright
Movie
1969

Battle of BritainStream

Actor
Sgt. Pilot Andy
Movie
1969
67%

La Chica Gitana

Actor
Movie
1966

The Pleasure Girls

Actor
Keith Dexter
Movie
1965

Gypsy Girl

Actor
Roibin
Movie
1965

Young and Willing

Actor
Harry Brown
Movie
1962

The Wild and the Willing

Actor
Harry Brown
Movie
1962

The Young and the Willing

Actor
Harry Brown
Movie
1962

Today

Guest
News
1952

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