Ian McShane
Birth Date:
September 29, 1942
Birth Place:
Blackburn, Lancashire, England, UK
5' 9" (1.75 m)
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“Up until the middle of the 1980’s, I wasn’t that bothered about the career as long as I was making money and have a great time. And I did have a great f***ing time. There are some jobs that I don’t even remember doing in the blizzard of alcohol and drugs.” Ian McShane

A performer since the early 1960s, British actor Ian McShane has surmounted stage, television and film. Frequently cast in the scoundrel or the shady guy characters, the award-winning character actor eventually hit it big internationally with his performance as the curtly-complex villain, Al Swearengen, in the HBO well-liked series “Deadwood” (2004-2006), for which he took home a Golden Globe Award and a Television Critics Association Award, as well as Emmy, SAG and Satellite nominations, among others. He is also famous for portraying antiques dealer “Lovejoy” in the BBC drama series of the same name (1986-1994), where he also directed several episodes, and as bounding English cad Don Lockwood in the CBS series “Dallas” (1989).

On the wide screen, the Golden Globe winner is probably best remembered as the menacing financier of a bank heist, Teddy Bass, in Jonathan Glazer’s tasteful crime thriller Sexy Beast (2000). He has since acted in such vehicles as Agent Cody Banks (2003), Nine Lives (2005), Scoop (2006) and We Are Marshall (2006). His upcoming film credits include His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (2007), Hot Rod (2007), Case 39 (2007) and The Dark Is Rising (2007). He is also set to do voice-over in films like Shrek the Third (2007) and Coraline (2008).

As for his married life, McShane has been married three times. From 1965 to 1968, he was married to screen beauty Suzan Farmer and in 1976, his second marriage, to Ruth Post. McShane and Post share two children, Kate and Morgan. Currently, he is married to Gwen Humble.

Son of Pro-Soccer Player

Childhood and Family:

Ian McShane was born on September 29, 1942, in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, to Harry McShane and Irene McShane. His father was a professional soccer player who played for Manchester United. Ian discovered a knack for acting as a student in secondary school when his teacher asked him to participate in a play. Ian was educated at Stretford Grammar School and in the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He left RADA in 1962 to start his movie career.

Ian married actress Suzan Farmer in 1965, but they divorced three years later. He was then married to Ruth Post and they had a daughter, Kate, in 1971, and a son, Morgan, in 1975. However, the marriage ended in 1976. Ian married his present wife, Gwen Humble, in 1981.



While still a student at RADA (eventually quit), Ian McShane was cast in his first film role in the low-key drama The Wild and the Willing (1962). He also made his London stage debut in “Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger,” that same year, which he continued with stage performances in a London revival of “The Glass Menagerie,” the original version of playwright Joe Orton’s black comedy “Loot” (both 1965) and “The Promise” (1967), costarring with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen. McShane’s first starring role in a movie arrived in 1966 when he was cast as a good-looking gypsy in director John Mills’ Gypsy Girl. He later acted in Guy Hamilton’s World War II classic The Battle of Britain (1969), with Michael Caine, Trevor Howard and Harry Andrews, and the comedy If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), opposite Suzanne Pleshette. The next year, he charmed television viewers with his starring role as Heathcliff in the series version of “Wuthering Heights” (1967).

During the 1970s, McShane went on to appear in many films, including playing an inconsequential crook and bisexual lover of a mob leader (played by Richard Burton) in Villain (1971) and teaming up with James Mason, James Coburn and Raquel Welch in the star-studded suspenseful murder-mystery The Last of Sheila (1973). He was featured as Sir Eric Russell in the groundbreaking ABC miniseries “Roots” and Judas Iscariot, the partisan who deceived Jesus, in the CBS miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth” (both 1977). Next, he portrayed Elizabethan writer Christopher Marlowe in the mini series “Life of Shakespeare” (1978) and won acclaim for his title role in the biographical miniseries “Disraeli” (1978). At the end of decade, he revisited the stage for a role in a California production of “As You Like It.”

Many other television projects followed in the next decade. The actor worked with Lee Remick for the ABC remake of The Letter (1982), directed by John Erman, was cast as Ali Ben Yousef in the rambling NBC historical miniseries “Marco Polo” (1982), played the supporting role of Prince Rainier of Monaco in the ABC biopic Grace Kelly (1983) and had the regular role of Greek millionaire Niko Theophilus on the NBC primetime serial “Bare Essence” (1983), starring Richard Backus. He continued with a costarring role in the NBC miniseries “A.D” (1985) and a role in the NBC miniseries “Evergreen” (1985).

It was in 1986 that McShane was cast in the title role of an antique dealer who solves mysteries in the British series “Lovejoy,” produced by McShane Productions, a production company that he formed in the mid-1980s. The series was a hit and so was McShane. He stayed with the show until it came to an end in 1994 and directed several episodes, including “The Colour of Mary” (1993) and “The Last of the Uzkoks” (1994). While enjoying his success, McShane also gained popularity in the US with the recurring role of English cad Don Lockwood on the CBS primetime serial “Dallas” (1989). Other work included starring as a freelance detective, David Cleveland, in a series of TV films based on mystery novels by Dick Francis, playing Philip Rule in the ABC miniseries “War and Remembrance” (1988) and an appearance in the Christopher Reeve two-part miniseries “The Great Escape II: The Untold Story” (1988), as Roger Bushell..

McShane maintained a low profile for much of the 1990s despite the success and the popularity of “Lovejoy.” He made a brief return to movies in 1992’s Con Man, an independent film helmed by Francis Megahy, appeared in episodes of the British series “Madson” (1996) and the American series “The Naked Truth” (1997), as well as portrayed Robert Bryson in the made-for-TV film Babylon 5: The River of Souls (1998). Additionally, he found himself acting in such stage productions as “The Admirable Crichton” at the Chichester Festival in England and “The Yield of the Long Bond” in Los Angeles.

The British thespian starred as Darryl Van Horne in Cameron Mackintosh’s musical stage production, “The Witches of Eastwick” (2000), but it was his role as the smooth-talking crooked mastermind Teddy Bass in the stylish crime thriller movie Sexy Beast (2000), directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring fellow Englishman Ben Kingsley, that bolstered McShane’s film career. Soon after, he appeared in the Sundance-premiered Bollywood Queen (2002), the spy comedy Agent Cody Banks (2003), which starred Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff, and the thriller Nemesis Game (2003), costarring with Carly Pope.

After more than 40 years in the industry, McShane eventually scored a massive victory when he was handed the starring role of Al Swearengen, the macho, gruffly-complex desperado, in the HBO series “Deadwood” (2004-2006). The role won him a 2004 Television Critics Association for Individual Achievement in Drama and a 2005 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama, and several nominations, including a 2005 Emmy nomination, a Satellite nomination and a 2006 SAG nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Meanwhile, on the big screen, he joined the cast of the ensemble drama Nine Lives (2005), helmed by Rodrigo García, and played a deceased reporter in the Woody Allen comedy Scoop (2006), starring Huge Jackman and Scarlett Johansson. Later, he added the sport-themed We Are Marshall (2006), opposite Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox and David Strathairn, to his film credits.

As for his forthcoming projects, the 65-year-old performer will provide the voice of Captain Hook in Shrek the Third (2007) and be seen as Ragnar Sturlusson in the based-on-novel His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (2007, stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig). He will also be the voice of Mr. Bobinski, a beet-eating Russian giant, in Coraline (2008) and Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda (2008). He is also scheduled to play roles in the action-comedy Hot Rod (2007, as Frank Powell), the horror/thriller Case 39 (2007, with Renée Zellweger and Jodelle Ferland) and director David L. Cunningham’s adventure The Dark Is Rising (2007, alongside Christopher Eccleston, Frances Conroy and Alexander Ludwig).


  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama, “Deadwood,” 2005

  • Television Critics Association: Individual Achievement in Drama, “Deadwood,” 2004

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