Handsome and versatile New Zealander actor Marton Csokas trained on stage and has acted in plays by Tom Stoppard and William Shakespeare in the 1990s in New Zealand, and later in Australia in such productions as “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Peribáñez.”
Csokas, who was first shot to fame in his native country as Dr. Leonard Rossi-Dodds (1994-1996) in the popular New Zealand soap opera "Shortland Street," became familiar to stateside audiences as Borias (1997-2001), Xena's ex-lover, in the cult hit television series "Xena: Warrior Princess," and as Celeborn, the Lord of the Elves, in Peter Jackson's critically-acclaimed "Lord of the Rings" trilogy: “The Fellowship of the Ring" (2000), "The Twin Towers" (2002) and "Return of the King" (2003).
“Speaking for myself, I do enjoy playing the villain.” Marton Csokas
Moviegoers could also catch the actor in such films as "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002), "xXx" (2002), "Kangaroo Jack" (2003), "Timeline" (2003), "Evilenko" (2004), "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004), "Asylum" (2005), "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005), "The Great Raid" (2005), "Æon Flux" (2005) and "Romulus, My Father" (2007).
“With acting, I do enjoy the illusion. I like the exploration of different psychologies and different physicalities. I also enjoy seeing the world through different eyes at a practical level, and particularly travel. I love the research, broadly or specifically, and breaking down the script.” Marton Csokas
The 6' 0¾" accomplished performer with citizenship in New Zealand and the European Union (Hungary) is reportedly dating his "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) co-star, French actress Eva Green (born on July 5, 1980), who was the Bond girl in the 2006 James Bond film "Casino Royale."
“I don't feel like I'm an imposter here. There is something amoral, ambivalent or tenuous about somebody's nationality in the arts. It does matter, but then again it doesn't from an actor's perspective.” Marton Csokas (on leaving New Zealand for Hollywood)
Childhood and Family:
Son to a Hungarian mechanical engineer father and an Irish-Danish nurse mother, Marton Csokas (last name pronounced “Cho-Kash”) was born on June 30, 1966, in New Zealand, where his father moved in the 1950s. After his parents' divorce, Csokas and his younger brother were raised by their mother and were estranged from their father for awhile. His mother now resides in Tasmania.
At age 18, Csokas traveled to London and found himself intrigued by a book on the art of theatre and began thinking of becoming an actor. He recalled, "I went to a school which was not particularly encouraging of the arts in terms of a career. In hindsight, that was good, in case I failed in this career. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19 and traveling that the idea of acting really appeared. I was in London, looking around at various exhibitions and theatres, and that appealed enormously. I ended up at one point in a secondhand bookstore and saw a book on theatre and the art of theatre, and that was very attractive."
He returned to New Zealand and attended Cantebury University in Christchurch, New Zealand, studying a wide range of liberal arts while dabbling in theatre as well. Around one year later, he dropped out of the traditional school and enrolled in Toi Whakaari. He graduated in December 1989 and worked at cafes to support himself and joined a local theater group.
Csokas is a citizen of the European Union, Hungary, and is a permanent resident of the United States. When he is not on the set, Csokas lives either in London or Los Angeles. Remaining a bachelor at just over 40 years old (though he is reportedly dating French actress Eva Green), Csokas enjoys living a gypsy lifestyle.
"I'm a gypsy. I'm a gypsy of ill repute. To use this train of thought, I'm more of the submissive than the dominant." Marton Csokas
Lord of the Rings
Having inherited some of his talent from his father who is a trained opera singer and was a trapeze artist in the Hungarian Circus at one time, Marton Csokas became interested in acting at age 18 after spending a year in London. He then returned to his home country and honed in on his craft at Cantebury University in Christchurch and Toi Whakaari, The New Zealand Drama School.
After graduating from drama school in 1989, Csokas worked at cafes to support himself and joined a local theater group. He has performed in dozens of productions, including Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" and Tony Kushner's "Angels in America.” He was also seen in a number of Shakespearean roles. In 1989, he co-founded an experimental theater company in New Zealand, the Stronghold Theatre, in which he worked as a presenter, producer and acted in dozens of plays.
In 1994, Csokas landed a starring role in the popular New Zealand soap opera "Shortland Street," playing Dr. Leonard Rossi-Dodds until 1996. He also scored his film role debut in director Tony Hiles' independent sci-fi feature "Jack Brown Genius" (1994), which was co-written by Peter Jackson and also starred Timothy Balme, Nicola Murphy, and Stuart Devenie.
“People sort of looked down on that, but I learned a lot about what it is to ingest vast quantities of lines, do it quickly, be economical in one's approach, go home, get up the next day, do it again.” Marton Csokas (on working on the soap "Shortland Street")
Csokas subsequently played a supporting role in the acclaimed New Zealand film directed by Gregor Nicholas, "Broken English" (1996), starring Aleksandra Vujcic, Julian Arahanga and Rade Serbedzija, and portrayed Tarlus, the outlaw who kidnapped Hercules' (played by Kevin Sorbo) bride Ramina (played by Josephine Davison) for ransom, in the episode “Promise” of the popular Pacific Renaissance series very loosely based on the tales of the classical Greek culture hero, "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," an American television series which was filmed in New Zealand.
Csokas' performance in “Hercules” would lead to his recurring role in the cult show "Xena: Warrior Princess," a spin-off from "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," which was also filmed in New Zealand. In the hit show that stars Lucy Lawless in the title role, Csokas played the warlord Borias, Xena's ex-lover and the father of Xena's son, Solan (played by David Taylor). He first appeared in the show in 1997 and last appeared in 2001 when his character was killed off.
Returning to the stage, Csokas played Rafe in “The Herbal Bed” (1998) and Dan in “Closer" (1999).
About “The Herbal Bed,” he said, "I did that with the Melbourne Theatre Company. That was an interesting play too. The danger in a play like that is using too much of a modern psychology in performance. People would react differently to the relationships in a play like that and the relationships in a play like ‘Closer.’ The whole dynamic of guilt and interaction is different."
Csokas continued acting in films as well and was cast as Celeborn, the Elven husband of Galadriel (portrayed by Cate Blanchett) in Peter Jackson's critically-acclaimed "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy: “The Fellowship of the Ring" (2000), "The Twin Towers" (2002) and "Return of the King" (2003), which were adapted from the three-volume epic fantasy novel of the same name written by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Speaking about "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Csokas said, “I had a very small role as Celeborn, but I felt fortunate to be a part of that. It was extraordinary. The production went on for five or six years. For my part, when I was involved, I was quite star struck by the company.”
During this time, Csokas also appeared in the biographical television movie "The Three Stooges" (2000), portraying vaudeville performer and actor Ted Healy, and co-starred as Cady in Christine Jeffs' award-winning coming-of-age drama "Rain" (2001), which was inspired by Kirsty Gunn's novel. On stage, he could be seen as Orsino in “Twelfth Night” (2001) at Belvoir Street, Sydney, and as Dim/Various in “A Clockwork Orange” (2001)," helmed by Jason Clarke.
“I like the thought and care that goes into theatrical productions. When you rehearse something for five weeks, you have a strong foundation to build on and you can use your experiences to improve your performance. Even as the play is performed, things change. What was perfect two weeks ago seems redundant, and yet at the time, it was the best thing to do.” Marton Csokas
2002 saw Csokas make his Hollywood debut in the action spy thriller movie starring Vin Diesel, "xXx" (2002). Csokas then added to his resume roles in George Lucas' "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002; starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen), and Richard Donner's critically-panned film adaptation of Michael Crighton 1999 science fiction novel, "Timeline" (2003; with Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, and Gerard Butler). He also appeared in David McNally's buddy-action movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, "Kangaroo Jack" (2003; starring Jerry O'Connell and Anthony Anderson), as Mr. Smith, the mysterious man who hunts down O'Connell and Anderson's because they have failed to deliver his package.
“Small sets can be more intimidating. Nervousness inevitably takes hold of you. The same thing happens on the big sets, but at the same time, you know you are not at the center of everybody's attention. I must say that the 'Star Wars' experience was weird. We never got the whole script and we didn't know a thing about our characters. We just had to act in front of a blue screen with some of the actors. In the end, they cut my part off completely. Painful, but instructive.” Marton Csokas
Marton was also cast opposite Matt Damon in Paul Greengrass' spy mystery thriller film loosely based on the Robert Ludlum novel, "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004), portraying Jarda, the last surviving member of Operation Treadstone, and joined Malcolm McDowell in the indie Italian movie very loosely based on the real life Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, "Evilenko" (2004), playing Vadim Timurovic Lesiev, the detective who tracks down and catches him.
Next, Csokas played Captain Redding in John Dahl's war film "The Great Raid" (2005; with Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, and James Franco), and portrayed a mental patient and jealous psychopath, who embarks on a dangerous affair with the wife (played by Natasha Richardson) of his sanitarium's chief psychiatrist, in David Mackenzie's drama film inspired by Patrick McGrath's novel, "Asylum" (2005).
On his love scenes with Natasha Richardson for "Asylum" (2005), Csokas explained, “He's described as a failed artist, so I took up drawing. The way an artist looks at the world is completely different from how a lawyer might look at the world and it helped very much in the love scenes. Natasha suggested looking at Rodin's sculptures and we loved that idea. It was very exciting and very collaborative, like a theater piece, where we would sit around a table and throw everything into the middle of it and argue and disagree and agree and use it as a place to begin rehearsals.”
He also co-starred as Guy of Lusignan in Ridley Scott's epic film set during the Crusades of the 12th century, "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) and teamed up with Charlize Theron in Karyn Kusama's loose film adaptation of the animated science fiction television series, "Æon Flux" (2005), playing Trevor Goodchild, the government's leader whom Æon must kill to complete her mission.
In 2007, Csokas was nominated for the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actor for his standout performance in the play “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” He recently won Best Supporting Actor awards from Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) and Australian Film Institute for his solid turn as Hora in Richard Roxburgh's directorial debut, "Romulus, My Father" (2008), which was based on the memoir by Raimond Gaita and stars Eric Bana and Franka Potente.
“I would like to try my hand at directing. I think the experience one gains as an actor is a good match for moving into directing. You know how the whole process works.” Marton Csokas
Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA): Best Actor - Supporting Role, "Romulus, My Father," 2008
Australian Film Institute (2007): Best Supporting Actor, "Romulus, My Father," 2007