James Purefoy

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James Purefoy

Purefoy as Mark Antony on the set of Rome
BornJames Brian Mark Purefoy
(1964-06-03) 3 June 1964 (age 48)
Taunton, Somerset, England
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Holly Aird (1996–2002)
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James Purefoy

Purefoy as Mark Antony on the set of Rome
BornJames Brian Mark Purefoy
(1964-06-03) 3 June 1964 (age 48)
Taunton, Somerset, England
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Holly Aird (1996–2002)

James Brian Mark Purefoy[1] (born 3 June 1964) is an English actor best known for portraying Mark Antony in the HBO series Rome.


Early life and work

Purefoy was born in Taunton, Somerset.[2] He was a boarder at Sherborne School, Sherborne, Dorset which he left with only one O-level. Later he went to night school and got 11 more, then took his A-levels.[3] He worked at Yeovil District Hospital as a porter before studying acting at the British drama school the Central School of Speech and Drama, while trying to sell copies of the Socialist Worker in his spare time.[3]


Purefoy's early professional roles included Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in Leatherhead, Walter in Mary Morgan at the Riverside Studios and Alan Strang in Equus on tour.

The RSC and other stage work

Purefoy subsequently joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1988 and appeared in The Constant Couple, Macbeth, The Tempest, The Man Who Came to Dinner (Gene Saks, Barbican) and King Lear as Edgar.

Elsewhere, he has also appeared as Laertes in Hamlet at the Bristol Old Vic (1991) Brian in William Gaminara's Back Up the Hearse and Let them Sniff the Flowers at the Hampstead Theatre (1992), Roland Maule in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the Globe Theatre (1993), Biff in Death of a Salesman, alongside Ken Stott and Jude Law, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (1994), Tony in The Servant at the Birmingham Rep (1995). He returned to the RSC for Simon Callow's stage adaptation of the film classic, Les enfants du paradis at the Barbican. He also played Hugh de Morville in Paul Corcoran's Four Nights in Knaresborough at the Tricycle Theatre, (1999) and Loveless in Trevor Nunn's production of The Relapse at the National Theatre in 2001.

Between March and June 2011 he starred as Peter in Trevor Nunn's production of Flare Path at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, alongside Sheridan Smith and Sienna Miller, as part of the playwright Terence Rattigan's centenary year celebrations.[4]

Film and television

He played James McCarthy, a young man accused of murdering his father, in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," in Granada's The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. One of his notable roles was as Nicholas Jenkins in the eight-part miniseries A Dance to the Music of Time for Channel 4 in 1997. He played Edward, the Black Prince in the film A Knight's Tale, Rawdon Crawley in Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon, and Tom Bertram in the 1999 production of Mansfield Park.

He has played major roles in several television costume dramas, including Sharpe's Sword, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Prince and the Pauper, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Blackbeard: Terror at Sea, Beau Brummell: This Charming Man, The Tide of Life, Camelot and Rome.


He played Mark Antony in the HBO/BBC original television series, Rome. At the time there were rumours that at least one nude body in the show had been digitally enhanced. When his Wikipedia entry, which at that time referred to the rumours, was brought up in an interview with Alastair McKay, published in the January 2007 issue of Out magazine, Purefoy said, "I won't say whose it was, but there was a penis in the series that may have been slightly enhanced. But it wasn't mine. Mine's all mine."[5]

The Philanthropist

He starred as Teddy Rist in the summer television series, The Philanthropist, which aired on NBC beginning on June 2009. His character is a billionaire playboy who decides to use his wealth and power to help others in need.

Lost roles

Purefoy was screen tested for the role of James Bond in 1995 for GoldenEye,[2] but ultimately lost the role to Pierce Brosnan. Throughout 2004 and 2005 Purefoy's name was rumoured as a possible candidate to replace Brosnan as agent 007 in future James Bond films.

Originally Purefoy was cast as V in V for Vendetta, but left six weeks into filming. Parts of the film contain (dubbed) scenes of Purefoy. Speculation suggested that his departure was due to an opportunity to play James Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale.[6] However, this news was proven false when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond. In the commentary track of the A Knight's Tale special edition DVD, director Brian Helgeland stated his opinion that Purefoy would be the perfect choice to play the "next" James Bond, well before Purefoy was being considered for the Casino Royale role.

Producer William J. MacDonald announced that James Purefoy would play Simon Templar in a new TV series of The Saint. The new series was scheduled to start shooting in Berlin and Australia in April 2008.[7] However, production ultimately did not occur and in August Purefoy was reported as negotiating with NBC to star in another series,[8] The Philanthropist.

Personal life

Purefoy had an eleven-year relationship with actress Fay Ripley, after the two met at Brooklands Technical College in Weybridge, Surrey. Afterwards, Purefoy had a relationship with actress Holly Aird from 1996 to 2002. They had a son together, Joseph, who was born in 1997. He has been in a relationship with the art historian and television producer Jessica Adams since 2004. He is a supporter of Yeovil Town.[9]


YearFilmRoleOther notes
1995Feast of JulyJedd Wainwright
Sharpe's SwordCaptain Jack the Lord Spears
1997Jilting JoeJoe
1998Bedrooms and HallwaysBrendan
1999Mansfield ParkTom Bertram
Women Talking DirtyDaniel
2000LighthouseRichard Spader
Maybe BabyCarl Phipps
The Wedding TackleHal
Don QuixoteSansón Carrasco
2001TomorrowAndrew Spender
A Knight's TaleSir Thomas Colville/Edward, the Black Prince of Wales
2002Resident EvilSpence Parks
2003Photo FinishJamesWon a Jury Award for best actor
Lena: The Bride of IceDr. Harper
2004George and the DragonGeorge
BlessedCraig Howard
Vanity FairColonel Rawdon Crawley
2005RomeMark Antony2 seasons, 2005–2007
Blackbeard: Terror at SeaEdward Teach/Blackbeard
2006Goose on the LooseKenneth Donnelly
Beau Brummell: This Charming ManBeau Brummell
2009The PhilanthropistTeddy RistTelevision series, cancelled after one season
2010Solomon KaneSolomon Kane
IroncladMarshall[10]Awaiting general release
2011CamelotKing LotTelevision series, Starz. Episode 1.1,1.2
InjusticeWilliam Travers[11]ITV 5-part TV-serial
RevengeDominik WrightTelevision series, ABC. Episodes 1.17,1.18
2012John CarterKantos Kan[12]
Richard IIMowbrayTV film
The FollowingJoe CarrollTV series


External links