- Birthplace: Blackburn, Lancashire, England
- Birthday: September 29
From a lawless saloon owner to the sexiest of beastly British mobsters, award-winning actor Ian McShane has, time and time again, captured the public's attention (as well as many plaudits, including from the Hollywood Foreign Press), by playing bad guys, scoundrels and thieves. "The devil has the best tunes!" he has said with a gleam in his eye.
From a lawless saloon owner to the sexiest of beastly British mobsters, award-winning actor Ian McShane has, time and time again, captured the public's attention (as well as many plaudits, including from the Hollywood Foreign Press), by playing bad guys, scoundrels and thieves. "The devil has the best tunes!" he has said with a gleam in his eye. McShane was named "TV's Sexiest Villain" by People Magazine, and was one of GQ's "Men of the Year," which described his portrayal of Deadwood's Al Swearengen as "infectious" and "irresistible." Classically trained, with a voice like none other, McShane has a range for rogues and other multi-faceted characters on TV, the silver screen, as a voiceover artist and on the boards.
In 2014, McShane will star as Amphiarus (part priest, part prophet, part warrior), opposite Dwayne Johnson in MGM's Hercules for director Brett Ratner. On the lighter side, he plays Ron, Nick Frost's salsa dance instructor in the upcoming independent feature Cuban Fury, a heart-felt comedy for director James Griffiths and most recently starred as the good King Brahmwell in Jack the Giant Slayer for director Bryan Singer in New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers modern-day fairytale.
McShane played the lead dwarf Beith opposite Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron in Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman, the dark fantasy film from director Rupert Sanders. He starred in Disney's billion-dollar blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the fearsome pirate Blackbeard opposite Johnny Depp. Highlights of McShane's previous film roles include the darkly perverse 44 Inch Chest, which McShane starred in, as well as produced and Woody Allen's Scoop. McShane was singled out for his portrayal of the twisted and handsome Teddy Bass, in the cult indie hit Sexy Beast, which prompted one London critic to name McShane, "The King of Cool." McShane's earlier, break-out parts were as the game-playing Anthony in the 1973 cult favorite The Last of Sheila, as Wolfe Lissner in Villain, Fred C. Dobbs in Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You, and as ladies man Charlie Cartwright in 1970's If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.
In addition to his screen work, McShane has also made his mark as a voiceover artist. His dulcet tones narrated The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and brought life to the eccentric magician Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline as well as the sinister Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda. Additionally, he lent his rich, resonant voice to The Golden Compass and to the devilish Captain Hook in Shrek The Third.
McShane has also enjoyed a long and diverse career on both British and American television. Most recently, he was the very, very bad Santa/serial killer in the award-winning drama American Horror Story for F/X. He starred in 2010's Emmy-nominated Pillars of the Earth as the conniving Waleran Bigod, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Mini Series, and in NBC's Kings as the ruthless King Silas Benjamin. Most notably, in 2004, McShane exploded onto the small screen as Al Swearengen on HBO's Deadwood, for which he earned the coveted Best Actor in a Television Drama Golden Globe Award; his charismatic and alluring performance also led him to 2005 Emmy and SAG nominations for Lead Actor — about playing Swearengen, McShane has said, "there was humanity tempered by reality, and he was never sentimental."
Earlier in his TV career, he formed McShane Productions, and produced the lauded Lovejoy for the BBC and A&E, in which he starred in the title role of the lovable rogue antiques dealer, as well as directed several episodes. Fans of this beloved series, which first aired in 1986, spanned the continents, and made their voices heard — they successfully demanded that it be brought back by popular demand, and the series aired again from 1991-1994. McShane also had strong and memorable appearances in the U.S. on Dallas, and in the saga War and Remembrance.
McShane played Sejanus in the mini series A.D., the eponymous Disraeli, produced by Masterpiece Theater and Judas in NBC's Jesus of Nazareth. He was also featured in the U.S. landmark blockbuster Roots, and brought pathos to the disabled Ken Harrison in Whose Life Is It Anyway? McShane was the smoldering Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. He also appeared in Harold Pinter's Emmy-Award-winning The Caretaker.
McShane is an accomplished and award-winning stage actor. In 2008, he celebrated two anniversaries: the 40th Anniversary revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming on Broadway and the 40th Anniversary of his Broadway debut. He made his musical debut in the West End production of The Witches of Eastwick, as the devilish Darryl Van Horne. In Los Angeles, he starred in a trio of productions at The Matrix Theatre, including the world premiere of Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond, for which he received the 1984 Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award, Inadmissible Evidence and Betrayal. Other on-stage work has included roles as Hal in the original cast of Joe Orton's Loot, as The Admirable Chrichton at the Chichester Festival, as Tom in The Glass Menagerie, and as Charlie in The Big Knife. McShane's West End debut in 1967 was co-starring with Dame Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in The Promise and in 1968 they brought the play to Broadway.
Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England to parents Irene and Harry McShane, a soccer player for Manchester United, Ian originally planned to follow in his father's "footballer" steps, until his high school teacher encouraged him to be an actor. McShane landed a spot at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where, just before graduation, he got his first break, the lead role in The Wild and the Willing in 1962 — he later revealed that he had told his acting teacher that he had a dentist's appointment and ditched class to audition for the role.