Karl Urban

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Karl Urban
Karl Urban 2014.jpg
Urban at Sci-Fi 2014 in Dallas, February 2014
BornKarl-Heinz Urban
(1972-06-07) 7 June 1972 (age 42)[1]
Wellington, New Zealand
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Natalie Wihongi (2004-2014)
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For the Austrian World War I flying ace, see Karl Urban (aviator). For the Austrian general field marshal, see Karl von Urban.
Karl Urban
Karl Urban 2014.jpg
Urban at Sci-Fi 2014 in Dallas, February 2014
BornKarl-Heinz Urban
(1972-06-07) 7 June 1972 (age 42)[1]
Wellington, New Zealand
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Natalie Wihongi (2004-2014)

Karl-Heinz Urban (born 7 June 1972) is a New Zealand actor. He is best known for playing Éomer in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, Cupid and Julius Caesar in Xena: Warrior Princess, Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick, and Judge Dredd in the 2012 film Dredd. He won acclaim for his performances in New Zealand films The Price of Milk and Out of the Blue. He recently played the main character John Kennex in the television series Almost Human.

Early life[edit]

Urban was born in Wellington, New Zealand. His father, a German immigrant, owned a leather goods store, and his mother once worked for Film Facilities in Wellington. Through his mother, the young Urban was exposed to classic New Zealand cinema, and developed an interest in the film industry.[2] Urban attended St Mark's Church School, where he showed an early love for public performance. His first acting role came at age eight, when he had a single line in one episode of the New Zealand television series Pioneer Woman. Though continuing to take part in school stage productions, he did not act professionally again until after high school.

He attended Wellington College in 1986–1990, then Victoria University of Wellington in the Bachelor of Arts program for one year, then left to pursue his acting career. Over the next few years, he appeared in several local TV commercials in addition to theater roles in the Wellington area. Eventually he moved to Auckland, where he was offered many guest roles in TV shows (one of which was playing a heroin addict in the police drama Shark in the Park). Urban then moved briefly to Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia in 1995, before returning to New Zealand the following year.[3]


New Zealand roles[edit]

Urban was seen on the internationally syndicated American/New Zealand TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and on its spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess, in which he played the recurring roles of both Cupid and Julius Caesar from 1996 to 2001. He also made an appearance as Mael in the episode "Altared States", from the first season of Xena. Both programs were filmed in New Zealand. In 2001, he appeared in the offbeat rural romance The Price of Milk, for which he received his first nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards. Urban later won acclaim for his portrayal of policeman Nick Harvey in Out of the Blue, a dramatization of New Zealand's Aramoana massacre, for which he won the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008.

International roles[edit]

Urban's first Hollywood role was in the 2002 horror film Ghost Ship. Since then, he has worked on many high-profile movies, including the second and third installments of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Two Towers and The Return of the King), The Bourne Supremacy (as Russian Federal Security Service agent Kirill), The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek and Doom.

The Hollywood Reporter speculated that Urban was one of several actors being considered for the part of British secret service agent 007 in Casino Royale, directed by fellow New Zealander Martin Campbell.[4] However he was unable to make the audition because of filming commitments. The role eventually went to Daniel Craig.

Urban, Zachary Quinto, J. J. Abrams, and Chris Pine, at the Star Trek Into Darkness in Sydney, Australia movie premiere, in April 2013

Urban played John "Reaper" Grimm in Universal Pictures' Doom (based on the first-person shooter video game Doom), which was released on 21 October 2005. In 2007, he starred in the Viking adventure Pathfinder. A longtime fan of Westerns,[5] Urban appeared as Woodrow Call in Comanche Moon, the CBS miniseries prequel to Lonesome Dove, in January 2008.

In 2009, he played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, a role famously originated by DeForest Kelley, in the eleventh Star Trek film.[6][7][8][9] A fan of the Star Trek franchise since childhood, Urban actively pursued a role in the film.[10] His performance was widely embraced by the Star Trek fan community for its faithfulness to the spirit of Kelley's McCoy.[11]

In 2009, Urban appeared as himself in the documentary film Reclaiming the Blade, discussing his sword-wielding experience in films such as The Lord of the Rings.[12]

Urban next appeared as CIA agent William Cooper in Red, adapted from the DC Comics graphic novel of the same name and co-starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren.[13] He portrayed Black Hat, a villainous priest-turned-vampire, in the film adaption of the Korean manhwa Priest, released in 3-D in 2011.[14]

In 2012, Urban starred as law-enforcing comic book hero Judge Dredd in the film Dredd. In an interview with Shave magazine, Urban described it as a "high-octane, action-fueled film... about the day in the life of Dredd." The film was directed by Pete Travis, with a script by Alex Garland.[15] Though it underperformed at the box office, Dredd was well received by critics.[16]

He reprised his role of "Bones" McCoy in the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, which was released 15 May 2013.

Urban will next be seen in the ensemble thriller The Loft, a remake of the Belgian film of the same name. Filmed in New Orleans and Belgium, it is helmed by the director of the 2008 original, Erik Van Looy.[17]

In 2013, Urban starred as Detective John Kennex in Almost Human a TV series created by J. H. Wyman. The series was set 35 years into the future when humans in the L.A.P.D. are paired up with lifelike androids. Urban played a detective who has a dislike for robots but ends up being teamed up with one with emotional feelings.

Personal life[edit]

Urban married Natalie Wihongi (who was his makeup artist on The Privateers)[18] in September 2004. Together they have two sons: Hunter, born November 2000, and Indiana ("Indy"), born January 2005[19] and named for the eponymous hero of the Indiana Jones franchise,[20] which Urban has cited as among his favorite films, with the exception of The Crystal Skull.[21] They live in Auckland, New Zealand.

Urban serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charity which currently supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, and shoes.[22]

He is a fan of rugby union; in particular, the New Zealand All Blacks national team.[23]


1992Chunuk BairWellington Soldier
1998Via SatellitePaul
2000The Irrefutable Truth about DemonsHarry BallardNominated – New Zealand Film and Television Award for Best Performance by an Actor in Film
2000The Price of MilkRobNominated – New Zealand Film and Television Award for Best Performance by an Actor in Film
2002Ghost ShipMunder
2002The Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersÉomer
2003The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingÉomerBroadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2004The Chronicles of RiddickVaako
2004The Bourne SupremacyKirill
2005DoomStaff Sergeant John "Reaper" Grimm
2006Out of the BlueNick HarveyQantas Film and Television Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Film
2008Comanche MoonWoodrow F. Call
2009Star TrekLeonard McCoyConstellation Award for Best Male Performance in a 2009 Science Fiction Film, TV Movie or Miniseries
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2009Black Water TransitEarl PikePost-production[24]
2010And Soon the DarknessMichael
2010REDWilliam Cooper
2011PriestBlack Hat
2012DreddJudge Dredd
2013Star Trek Into DarknessLeonard McCoy
2013Walking with DinosaursZack
2014The LoftVincent Stevens
2014The WonderConsul William StanleyPre-production
Karl Urban at the Fantastic Fest in September 2012


1990Shark in the ParkRohann Murdoch6 episodes
1992Homeward BoundTim Johnstone
1993White FangDavid1 episode: "Tough Kid"
1993–1994Shortland StreetParamedic Jamie Forrest
1995Riding HighJames Westwood
1996Hercules: The Legendary JourneysCupid/Julius Caesar2 episodes
1996Xena: Warrior PrincessMael, Julius Caesar, Cupid12 episodes
1997Amazon HighKor
2000The PrivateersCapt. Aran DravykTV movie
2008Comanche MoonWoodrow F. CallTV miniseries
2013–2014Almost HumanJohn KennexLead Character
2014Short PoppiesAlex TurnbullCameo

Video games[edit]

Video Games
2013Star TrekLeonard McCoyVoice and likeness


  1. ^ "Miami Herald: Search Results". 7 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "Biography". Karlurbanonline.com. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  3. ^ Greg Dixon (15 July 2000). "Karl Urban – The price of fame". The New Zealand Herald. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Karl Urban rewinds TV favorites, 10 January 2008
  6. ^ And Karl Urban as McCoy!, 17 October 2007
  7. ^ Urban, Pine join Abrams' 'Star Trek', 18 October 2007
  8. ^ Karl Urban: From Comanche Moon's Old West to Star Trek's Exciting Future, 11 January 2008
  9. ^ Urban Talks Trek Characters and Production Design, 11 January 2008
  10. ^ "Karl Urban Was Ready For Star Trek". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  11. ^ "Happy Birthday, Karl Urban". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  12. ^ Karl Urban at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Interview: Karl Urban on the set of RED, 15 July 2010
  14. ^ SD Comic-Con '10: Karl Urban Goes Vampirific in 'Priest'
  15. ^ "Interview: Karl Urban". Shave (magazine). Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  16. ^ "Dredd Wraps Its Theatrical Run". comicbook.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  17. ^ Extraterrestre (2011-06-08). "Erik Van Looy's Loft Receives Second Remake in Three Years". Twitchfilm.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  18. ^ "Karl Urban Online". Karl Urban Online. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  19. ^ "Star Trek beams back". Waikato Times. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Empire Online". Empire Online. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  21. ^ Atchity, Matt (2010-07-23). "Five Favorite Films with Karl Urban". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  22. ^ "Patrons and Ambassadors". KidsCan. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  23. ^ Neil Reid (7 November 2010). "Karl Urban plans around World Cup". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  24. ^ Tony Kaye Says Unreleased 'Black Water Transit' Is "Not Finished Yet", 28 April 2011

External links[edit]