David Warner (actor)

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David Warner
Warner at the London Film and Comic-Con in July 2008
Born(1941-07-29) 29 July 1941 (age 73)
Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
EducationFeldon School
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1962–present
AwardsEmmy Award
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David Warner
Warner at the London Film and Comic-Con in July 2008
Born(1941-07-29) 29 July 1941 (age 73)
Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
EducationFeldon School
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1962–present
AwardsEmmy Award

David Warner (born 29 July 1941) is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, across a range of media, including stage, film, animation, television and video games.[1] Over the course of his long career he is most famous for his roles in films such as Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Cross of Iron, The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, Star Trek V and VI, The Lost World, Holocaust, Portrait in Evil, Titanic, and Planet of the Apes. In 1981, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for his portrayal of Pomponius Falco in the television miniseries Masada.

Early life[edit]

Warner was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, the son of Doreen (née Hattersley) and Herbert Simon Warner, who was a nursing home proprietor.[2] He was born out of wedlock and frequently taken to be brought up by each of his parents, eventually settling with his Russian Jewish father and his stepmother.[3][4][5] He was educated at Feldon School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London.



Warner made his professional stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre in January 1962, playing Snout, a minor role in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Tony Richardson for the English Stage Company. In March 1962 at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, he played Conrad in Much Ado About Nothing, following which in June he appeared as Jim in Afore Night Come at the New Arts Theatre in London.

He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1963 to play Trinculo in The Tempest and Cinna the Poet in Julius Caesar, and in July was cast as Henry VI in the John Barton adaptation of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, which comprised the first two plays from The Wars of the Roses trilogy. At the Aldwych Theatre, London, in January 1964, he again played Henry VI in the complete The Wars of the Roses history cycle (1964). Returning to Stratford in April, he performed the title role in Richard II, Mouldy in Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry VI. At the Aldwych in October 1964, he was cast as Valentine Brose in the play Eh? by Henry Livings, a role he reprised in the 1968 film adaptation Work Is a Four-Letter Word.

He first played the title role in Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1965. This production was transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in December of that year. In the 1966 Stratford season, his Hamlet was revived and he also played Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night. Finally at the Aldwych in January 1970, he played Julian in Tiny Alice.

According to his 2007 programme CV, Warner's other work for the theatre has included The Great Exhibition at Hampstead Theatre (February 1972); I, Claudius at the Queen's Theatre (July 1972); A Feast of Snails at the Lyric Theatre (February 2002); Where There's a Will at the Theatre Royal, Bath; King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre (in 2005, see details below); and also Major Barbara on Broadway.

Film and television[edit]

In 1963, he made his film debut as the villainous Blifil in Tom Jones, and in 1965, starred as Henry VI in the BBC television version of the RSC's The Wars of the Roses cycle of Shakespeare's history plays. Another early television role came when he starred alongside Bob Dylan in the 1963 play Madhouse on Castle Street. A major step in his career was the leading role in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) opposite Vanessa Redgrave, which established his reputation for playing slightly off-the-wall characters. He also appeared as Konstantin Treplev in Sidney Lumet's 1968 adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Sea Gull and starred alongside Jason Robards and Stella Stevens as Reverend Joshua Duncan Sloane in Sam Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

In horror films, he appeared in one of the stories of From Beyond the Grave, opposite Gregory Peck in The Omen (1976) as the ill-fated photojournalist Keith Jennings, and the 1979 thriller Nightwing. He also starred in cult classic Waxwork (1988), and featured alongside a young Viggo Mortensen in the 1990 film Tripwire.

He has often played villains, in films such as The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Time After Time (1979), Time Bandits (1981), Tron (1982), Hanna's War (1988), and television series such as Batman: The Animated Series playing Ra's al Ghul, the anti-mutant scientist Herbert Landon in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, as well as rogue agent Alpha in the animated Men in Black series and the Archmage in Disney's Gargoyles and finally The Lobe in Freakazoid. He was also cast against type as Henry Niles in Straw Dogs (1971) and as Bob Cratchit in the 1984 telefilm A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. In addition, he played German SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich both in the film Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil, and the television miniseries Holocaust; as sinister millionaire recluse Amos Hackshaw in HBO's original 1991 film Cast a Deadly Spell, who plots to use the world's most powerful spell book – the Necronomicon – to unleash the Lovecraftian Old Ones from eternal imprisonment upon the Earth.

In 1981, Warner received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for Masada as Pomponius Falco. In 1988, he appeared in the Danny Huston film Mr. North.

He subsequently appeared in films such as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Avatar (known as Matrix Hunter in USA), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), Titanic (the second time he has appeared in a film about RMS Titanic) and Scream 2. In 2001, he played Captain James Sawyer in two episodes of A&E's adaptation of C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. He appeared in three episodes of the second season of Twin Peaks (1991). He also continues to play classical roles. In "Chain of Command", a 6th-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he was a Cardassian interrogator. He based his portrayal on the evil "re-educator" from 1984. His less-spectacular roles included a double-role in the low-budget fantasy Quest of the Delta Knights (1993) which was eventually spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also played Admiral Tolwyn in the film version of Wing Commander.

Warner's sympathetic side had been evident in Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron (1977), where he portrayed Captain Kiesel. Other "nice guy" roles include the charismatic "Aldous Gajic" in "Grail", a first season (1994) episode of Babylon 5 and "Chancellor Gorkon" in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he played Superman's deceased Kryptonian father Jor-El, who appeared to his son through holographic recordings. Warner has also played "ambiguous nice guys" such as vampire bat exterminator Philip Payne in 1979's Nightwing; and Dr. Richard Madden in 1994's Necronomicon: Book of the Dead. In Seven Servants by Daryush Shokof, he co-starred with Anthony Quinn in 1996.

Another 'sympathetic' role was in 2013, when he played Professor Grisenko in the Doctor Who episode "Cold War" in which he battled a revived Ice Warrior and struck up a rapport with the Doctor's companion Clara Oswald.

David also appeared in the second series of the Sky 1 comedy-drama Mad Dogs.

In 2014 Warner starred in two episodes of the Horror series Penny Dreadful as Abraham Van Helsing.

Voice work[edit]

Warner contributed "Sonnet 25" to the 2002 compilation album, When Love Speaks (EMI Classics), which consists of Shakespearean sonnets and play excerpts as interpreted by famous actors and musicians. He has performed in many audio plays, starring in the Doctor Who "Unbound" play Sympathy for the Devil (2003) as an alternative version of the Doctor, and in a series of plays based on ITV's Sapphire & Steel as Steel, both for Big Finish Productions. He reprised his incarnation of the Doctor in a sequel, Masters of War (2008). In 2007, he guest starred as Isaac Newton in the Doctor Who audio drama Circular Time and as Cuthbert in four of the seven stories in the second Fourth Doctor series. He also guest starred in the BBC Radio 4 science fiction comedy Nebulous (2005) as Professor Nebulous' arch-enemy Dr. Joseph Klench. In all these productions, Warner has worked with writer and comedian Mark Gatiss of the League of Gentlemen, and plays a guest role in the League's 2005 feature film The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse. He has also performed in radio plays for the distinguished American companies L.A. Theatre Works and the Hollywood Theater of the Ear. In 2005, Warner read a new adaptation of Oliver Twist for BBC Radio 2 (adapted by Neville Teller and directed by Neil Gardner). In 2008, he guest-starred as Mycroft Holmes in the Bernice Summerfield audio play The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel. In 2009, he was the voice of Lord Azlok of the Viperox, an insectoid alien race in the animated Doctor Who serial "Dreamland".

He has also contributed voice acting to a number of computer games, most notably playing the villain Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and Morpheus in Fallout.

Warner also did voice work on the short-lived FOX animated series Toonsylvania as Dr. Vic Frankenstein. On the Cartoon Network animated television series The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, David provided the voice of Nergal, a demonic creature from the Earth's core. He voiced the character until 2003, when he was replaced by Martin Jarvis. He also voiced one of Batman's greatest enemies, Ra's al Ghul, in Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and an episode of Batman Beyond. He also voiced the Lobe in Freakazoid and Alpha in Men in Black: The Series, Herbert Landon in Spider-Man, as well as the Archmage in Gargoyles.

Warner narrated the Disney's direct-to-video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin.

In March 2010, it was announced that Warner would be joining the cast of the Dark Shadows audio drama miniseries Kingdom of the Dead.

Career renaissance[edit]

David Warner in July 2008

In 2001, Warner returned to the stage after a nearly three-decade hiatus to play Andrew Undershaft in a Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara. In May 2005, at the Chichester Festival Theatre Warner made a return to Shakespeare, playing the title role in Steven Pimlott's production of King Lear. Tim Walker, reviewing the performance in the Sunday Telegraph, wrote: "Warner is physically the least imposing king I have ever seen, but his slight, gaunt body serves also to accentuate the vulnerability the part requires. So, too, does the fact that he is older by decades than most of the other members of the youthful cast."

On 30 October 2005, he appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Christopher Eccleston, Bruno Langley, Navin Chowdhry, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. In December 2006, he starred in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather on Sky1 as Lord Downey. And in August 2007, as an RSC Honorary Artist, he returned to Stratford for the first time in over 40 years to play Sir John Falstaff in the Courtyard Theatre revival of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 which were part of the RSC Histories Cycle.

In February 2008, Warner was heard as the popular fictional character Hugo Rune in a new 13-part audio adaptation of Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicon released by Hokus Bloke Productions and BBC Audiobooks. He starred alongside some high-profile names including cult science fiction actress and Superman star Sarah Douglas, Rupert Degas, Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis, Harry Potter villain Jason Isaacs, Mark Wing-Davey and Martin Jarvis (written by Elliott Stein & Neil Gardner, and produced/directed by Neil Gardner).

In October 2008, Warner played the role of Lord Mountbatten of Burma in the BBC Four television film In Love with Barbara, a biopic about the life of romantic novelist Barbara Cartland.[6] He plays Povel Wallander, the father of Kurt Wallander, in BBC One's Wallander.

Other work[edit]

In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Warner about his role in The Omen (1976) for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror.[7][8] In November 2013, David Warner posed for Rory Lewis Photographers 'Northerners' Exhibition,[9] David's image was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London, and was the first professional portrait sitting of David since 1966.[10]



1962We Joined the NavySailor painting shipUncredited
The King's Breakfast1st TrumpeteerShort Film
Tom JonesBlifil
1966Morgan: A Suitable Case for TreatmentMorgan Delt
The Deadly AffairEdward IIUncredited
1968The Bofors GunTerry "Lance Bar" Evans
Work Is a 4-Letter WordValentine Brose
A Midsummer Night's DreamLysander
The FixerCount Odoevsky
The Sea GullKonstanting Treplev, her son
1969Michael Kohlhaas - Der RebellMichael Kohlhaas
1970The Ballad of Cable HogueJoshua
Perfect FridayLord Nicholas "Nick" Dorset
1971Straw DogsHenry NilesUncredited
Swêden Poruno: Yokujô Shotaiken
1973A Doll's HouseTorvald Helmer
1974From Beyond the GraveEdward CharltonSegment 1 "The Gate Crasher"
Little MalcolmDennis Charles Nipple
1975The Old Curiosity ShopSampson Brass
1976The OmenKeith Jennings
1977ProvidenceKevin Langham/Kevin Woodford
Cross of IronHauptmann (Capt.) Kiesel
Age of InnocenceHenry Buchanan
The DisappearanceBurbank
1978Silver BearsAgha Firdausi
The Thirty Nine StepsSir Edmund Appleton
1979NightwingPhillip Payne
The Concorde ... Airport '79Peter O'Neill
Time After TimeJack the Ripper - John Leslie StevensonNominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1980The IslandJohn David Nau
1981Time BanditsEvil
The French Lieutenant's WomanMurphy
1982TronEd Dillinger/Sark/Master Control Program
1983The Man with Two BrainsDr. Alfred Necessiter
1984Summer LightningGeorge Millington
The Company of WolvesFather
A Christmas CarolBob Cratchit
1985Portrait in EvilReinhard HeydrichThe second time Warner played SS-General, Gestapo & SD Chief and Holocaust architect Heydrich
1987Hansel and GretelFather
My Best Friend Is a VampireProf. Leopold McCarthy
1988Keys to FreedomNigel Heath
WaxworkWaxwork Man
Mr. NorthDoctor McPherson
Hanna's WarCaptain Julian Simon
Hostile TakeoverEugene Brackin
1989MagdaleneBaron von Seidl
Star Trek V: The Final FrontierSt. John Talbot
Mortal PassionsDoctor Terrence Powers
Grave SecretsDr. Carl Farnsworth
1990TripwireJosef Szabo
1991Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryChancellor Gorkon
Cast a Deadly SpellAmos Hackshaw
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the OozeProfessor Jordan Perry
1992The Lost WorldProfessor Summerlee
1993H.P. Lovecraft's: NecronomiconDr. Madden
Quest of the Delta KnightsBaydool / Lord Vultare / Narrator
Perry Mason & The Case of the Skin Deep ScandalHarley Griswold
1995In the Mouth of MadnessDr. Wrenn
1996Rasputin: Dark Servant of DestinyDr. Eugene Botkin
1997Money TalksBarclay (James' Boss)
Scream 2Gus Gold
TitanicSpicer LovejoyNominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1998The Last LeprechaunSimpson
1999Wing CommanderAdmiral Geoffrey Tolwyn
2001Planet of the ApesSenator Sandar
Back to the Secret GardenDr. Snodgrass
SuperstitionJudge Padovani
2002The Code ConspiracyProfessor
The Little UnicornTed Regan
2003Kiss of LifePap
2004AvatarJoseph Lau
Ladies in LavenderDr. Francis Mead
Straight Into DarknessDeacon
CortexMaster of Organisation
2005The League of Gentlemen's ApocalypseDr. Erasmus Pea
2007Terry Pratchett's HogfatherLord Downey
2010Black DeathAbbot
2011A Thousand Kisses DeepMax
2013Before I SleepEugene DevlinPost-Production
1978HolocaustReinhard Heydrich
1979S.O.S. TitanicLawrence BeesleyTV film
1981MasadaFalcoWon an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special
1991Uncle VanyaUncle Vanya
1992Star Trek: The Next GenerationGul Madred
1992Tales From the Crypt: The New ArrivalDr. Alan Getz
1993Body BagsDr. LockTV film
1994Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanJor-ElEpisode "The Foundling"
Babylon 5Aldous Gajic
2001HornblowerCaptain James Sawyer
2004Conviction (UK TV series)Lenny Fairburn
20044.50 from Paddington(Agatha Christie's Marple)Luther Crackenthorpe
2008 - 2010WallanderPovel Wallander
2008In Love with BarbaraLouis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
2009Doctor Who: DreamlandLord Azlok
2010Dark Shadows: Kingdom of the DeadSeraph
2011Mad Dogs (TV series)Mackenzie
2012The Secret of Crickley HallPercy JuddAll 3 episodes
2012Midsomer MurdersPeter FossettDeath in the Slow Lane (episode)
2013Doctor Who[11]Professor GrisenkoEpisode "Cold War"
2014Penny DreadfulAbraham Van Helsing2 episodes


  1. ^ David-Warner. The New York Times. Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  2. ^ Photos Page 3. Bolsterstone.de (12 December 1916). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  3. ^ David Warner: An Actor's Life and Art: A Portrait of the Actor as a Young Man at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  4. ^ David Warner Biography (1941–). Filmreference.com. Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  5. ^ David Warner Biography. Yahoo! Movies. (29 July 1941). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  6. ^ Four Programmes – In Love with Barbara. BBC. Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  7. ^ Clarke, Donald. "Mark Gatiss’s History of Horror". Irish Times.com. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss – Home Counties Horror Ep 2/3". BBC. 18 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Rory Lewis Photographer Blog http://rorylewisphotography.com/blog/david-warner-actor-photoshoot-northerners-2014-exhibition/
  10. ^ National Portrait Gallery London David Warner http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw248086/David-Warner?LinkID=mp64101&role=sit&rNo=2
  11. ^ Sperling, Daniel (2 July 2012). "'Doctor Who' casts Dame Diana Rigg, Rachael Stirling". Digital Spy. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 

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