PROFILE
Name:
James Purefoy
Birth Date:
June 3, 1964
Birth Place:
Taunton, Somerset, England, UK
Nationality:
British
Famous for:
His role in 'Photo Finish' (2003)
BIOGRAPHY
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Rome

Background:

British actor James Purefoy is best known to American television audiences for playing Mark Antony in the successful historical epic “Rome” (HBO, 2005-2007). After the show ended, he starred as Teddy Rist in the NBC short lived series “The Philanthropist” (2009). His extensive television credits also include “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” (1996), “A Dance to the Music of Time” (1997), “Don Quixote” (2000), “The Mayor of Casterbridge” (2003), “Beau Brummell: This Charming Man” (2006) and “The Summit”(2008). The classically trained thespian began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1980s before making an auspicious television debut in the British series “Coasting” (1990). He made his film acting debut in “Feast of July” (1995), but did not really focus on a film career until the late 1990s. Dark haired, good looking Purefoy has since had notable roles in “Mansfield Park” (1999, as Tom Bertram), “Maybe Baby” (2000, as Carl Phipps), “A Knight's Tale” (2001, as Colville), “Resident Evil” (2001, as Spence Parks), “Vanity Fair” (2004, as Rawdon Crawley) and “Solomon Kane” (2009, as the title role). He was handed the Temecula Valley International Film Festival Jury Award for his performance in “Photo Finish” (2003).

Purefoy has one son named Joseph Purefoy with his former wife, Holly Aird. He had a long term relationship with actress Fay Ripley, whom he met at Brooklands Technical College in Weybridge, Surrey, before marrying Aird in 1996. In 2004, two years after his divorce, he began dating art historian and television producer Jessica Adams. He was also briefly linked to actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Piper Pebaro.


Royal Shakespeare Company

Childhood and Family:

Born James Brian Mark Purefoy on June 3, 1964, in Taunton, Somerset, England, James Purefoy attended the all-boys Sherbourne School, but dropped out at age 16. He then took on a series of jobs, which including working as a porter at Yeovil District Hospital and a pig farmer, before traveling through Europe. At age 18, he returned to college and later joined the Central School of Speech & Drama (CSSD) in London. It was there that he was spotted by a casting director from the Royal Shakespeare Company and asked to join the company in Stratford.

James was married to British television actress Holly Aird (born on May 18, 1969) from 1996 to 2002. The couple has one son together named Joseph Purefoy (born in 1997).


Resident Evil

Career:

James Purefoy played Romeo in Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, Walter in “Mary Morgan” and Alan Strang in “Equus” (1986) on tour, among other roles, before attracting the attention of a casing director from the Royal Shakespeare Company after starring in “Henry V.” He then worked with the company in Stratford-upon-Avon from 1988 to 1990 and acted in various productions, such as “Macbeth” (1988), “The Tempest” (1989), “All God's Chillun,” “King Lear,” “The Constant Couple” and “Tom Thumb.”

Purefoy made his television acting debut in the British dramatic series “Coasting” (1990), where he co-starred as Mike Baker. The following year, he debuted on American television with a performance in an episode of “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes” when PBS aired the show as a presentation of “Mystery.” He next received a guest spot in “Boon” and a part in the BAFTA nominated television film “Bye Bye Baby” (1992) before landing a supporting role in the British science fiction miniseries “The Cloning of Joanna May” (1992). The latter show brought him back on television in the United States when it was later broadcasted on A&E. The same year, he also worked with Alfred Molina, Louise Lombard and Nimah Cusack in the U.K. television film “Angels.”

After appearing opposite Jemma Redgrave in the Bill Britten directed short “One Night Stand” (1993), which was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Short Film, Purefoy played the role of Brian Summers in the three part Masterpiece Theatre presentation “Calling the Shots” (PBS), opposite Lynn Redgrave. He returned to British series with roles in “Rides” (1993, as Julian) and “Tears Before Bedtime” (1995, as Jimmy Turner) and guest starred in “Crime Story” (1993). He then appeared in the TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's novel, “Sharpe's Sword” (1995), which starred Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe.

Meanwhile, during 1991 to 1994, Purefoy sporadically resurfaced on the London stage circuit. He performed in Euripides' “Women of Troy” at the Gate Theatre, Shakespeare's “Hamlet” at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, William Gaminara's play “Back Up the Hearse and Let them Sniff the Flowers” at the Hampstead Theatre, and Noel Coward's “Present Laughter” at the Globe Theatre. He also teamed up with Ken Stott and Jude Law in Arthur Miller's “Death of a Salesman” at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

In 1995, Purefoy was cast as Jedd Wainwright in the Merchant Ivory Productions produced drama “Feast of July,” which was based on the novel of the same name by H.E. Bates. The cast also included Embeth Davidtz, Tom Bell, Gemma Jones, Greg Wise, Kenneth Anderson and Ben Chaplin. He then chose to perform with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and appeared in the television productions “The Tide of Life” (1996), based on a novel by Catherine Cookson, and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” (1996), adapted from Anne Brontë's novel, and the TV series “The Prince and the Pauper” (1996). He returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company in “Les Enfants du Paradis” (1996), staged by Simon Callow. As Frederick, he co-starred with Colin Farrell, Helen McCrory, Joseph Fiennes, Rupert Graves, Colin George, Sylestra Le Touzel, Robert Demeger, Maggie Wells, and Peter Spoule in the play.

In 1997, Purefoy resumed his film career starring in the independent romance “Jilting Joe,” directed by Dan Zeff. Also appearing in the film were Tom Wilkinson, Benjamin Whitrow, Matt Lucas and Geraldine Somerville. The same year, he also co-starred in the miniseries “Have Your Cake and Eat It,” opposite his then-wife Holly Aird, the acclaimed eight part series “A Dance to the Music of Time” and the BBC film “Bright Hair,” with Emilia Fox. After starring in the short “Blink” (1998), he was cast as Brendan in the comedy “Bedrooms & Hallways” (1998), starring Kevin McKidd. He did not score his first real film success until he was cast as Tom Bertram in Patricia Rozema's “Mansfield Park” (1999), a loose adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jane Austin. The film premiered at the Montréal Film Festival on August 27, 1999, where it was nominated for the Grand Prix des Amériques. It received a theatrical release in the U.S. on November 19, 1999, and was nominated for a Chlotrudis Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. The same year, he also supported Helena Bonham Carter and Gina McKee in the Scottish comedy “Women Talking Dirty,” for director Coky Giedroyc. He then returned to the stage to play Morville in Paul Corcoran's “Four Nights in Knaresborough” at the Tricycle Theatre in London.

Entering the new millennium, Purefoy starred as Richard Spader in the British horror film “Lighthouse” (known in the U.S. as “Dead of Night,” 2000), portrayed Carl Phipps in “Maybe Baby” (2000), a comedy written and directed by Ben Elton that starred Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson, and co-starred with Adrian Dunbar, Tony Slattery and Neil Stuke in the British comedy “The Wedding Tackle,” directed by Rami Dvir. On the small screen, he portrayed Sansón Carrasco in the TNT film “Don Quixote,” starring John Lithgow, and Nathan in the British miniseries “Metropolis” (both also 2000).

From 2001 to 2004, Purefoy landed roles in such movies as the Italian feature “Tomorrow” (written and directed by Francesca Archibugi), Brian Helgeland's “A Knight's Tale,” Paul W.S. Anderson's box office hit “Resident Evil” (opposite Milla Jovovich, Eric Mabius, Colin Salmon and Michelle Rodriguez), Douglas McFerran's “Photo Finish” (2003), in which he netted a Jury Award for Best Actor at the 2004 Temecula Valley International Film Festival for his portrayal of James, Polly Steele's “Lena: The Bride of Ice,” Tom Reeve's “George and the Dragon” (with Piper Perabo and Patrick Swayze), Simon Fellows' “Blessed” and Mira Nair's “Vanity Fair” (opposite Reese Witherspoon). He returned to the stage in a 2001 production of “The Relapse” and appeared in the British television adaptation of Thomas Hardy's “The Mayor of Casterbridge” (2003), where he portrayed Donald Farfrae.

In 2005, Purefoy was cast as Mark Antony in the HBO/BBC historical dramatic series “Rome.” The show, also starring Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Simon Woods, Lindsay Duncan, Ciaran Hinds, Tobias Menzies, Kerry Condon, Indira Varma, Allen Leech and Camilla Rutherford, was a success. During its two season run (until 2007), it collected many awards, including seven Emmys.

In 2006, Purefoy costarred with Chevy Chase and Kari Matchett in the family film “Goose on the Loose” for director Nicholas Kendall. He also starred as Edward Teach in the BBC film “Blackbeard: Terror at Sea” and Beau Brummell in BBC's “Beau Brummell: This Charming Man.” He then worked with John Corbett in Showtime's “Manchild” (2007), Helen McCrory in ITV's “Frankenstein” (2007) and Bruce Greenwood in the Canadian TV miniseries “The Summit” (2008, as Thom Lightstone). He also starred as Lucas Denmont in the ABC miniseries “Diamonds” (2009), opposite Derek Jacobi, and returned to series television as the star of the NBC action drama “The Philanthropist,” opposite Jesse L. Martin, Neve Campbell, Krista Allen and Lindy Booth. The show, created by Tom Fontana, was canceled after one season. He then starred in the Michael J. Bassett directed action adventure film “Salomon Kane,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2009.

Purefoy will star with Paul Giamatti, Brian Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Jason Flemyng, Derek Jacobi, Kate Mara and Jamie Foreman in the upcoming British/American action movie “Ironclad” (2010), which was directed, co-written and co-produced by Jonathan English. He is also set to play Lord Charles in Marleen Gorris' “Heaven and Earth” (2010, with Natascha McElhone) and Kantos Kan in Andrew Stanton's “John Carter of Mars” (2012), with Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Dominic West. He is rumored to be portraying Ned Allyn in Nick Copus' upcoming “A Dead Man in Deptford” (2011).

Awards:

  • Temecula Valley International Film Festival: Jury Award, Best Actor, “Photo Finish,” 2004

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James Purefoy Shoot (x2)
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© Walt Disney Pictures
James Purefoy - Shoot (x3)
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James Purefoy Shoot (x3)
Steveo - Jan 06, 2007
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© Focus Features
James Purefoy Shoot (x5)
Steveo - Jan 06, 2007
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James Purefoy Shoot (x13)
Steveo - Jan 06, 2007
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© Focus Features
© Walt Disney Pictures
© Walt Disney Pictures
© Focus Features

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