James Purefoy Biography

James Purefoy Biography on Monsters and Critics


"James Brian Mark Purefoy" (born June 3 1964) is an English actor.

Early life and work

Purefoy was born in Taunton, Somerset. He was a boarder at Sherborne School which he left with only one O-level. Later he went to night school and got 11 more, then took his A-levels. He then studied acting at the British drama school the Central School of Speech and Drama, while selling, with difficulty, copies of the "Socialist Worker" in his spare time.


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 Noel 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.

Film and television

His appearances in films and television have predominated. He played James McCarthy, a young man accused of murdering his father, in 'The Boscombe Valley Mystery,' in Granada's "The Memoirs 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" and Rawdon Crawley in Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon.

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" and "Rome".

In 2007, he played an important, yet supporting role on a TV modernized adaptation of "Frankenstein".


He played Mark Antony in the HBO/BBC original television series, "Rome". His full frontal nudity in episode four of the series caused a sensation among the show's viewers. 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, I'm afraid.'

"The Philanthropist"

He stars 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 attached to star in the 2005 film "V for Vendetta", but dropped out and was replaced by Hugo Weaving. (Both Purefoy and Weaving starred in the 1998 gay British comedy, "Bedrooms and Hallways".) It was later revealed that Hugo Weaving had been originally first choice for the film, but was involved in the Australian film "Eucalyptus". Later, production of "Eucalyptus" had been halted, freeing up Weaving, and Purefoy had willingly left "V for Vendetta" because the Guy Fawkes mask made him extremely uncomfortable.

Purefoy was screen tested for the role of James Bond in 1995 for "Goldeneye", 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. Rumors and speculation suggested that Purefoy's departing of "V for Vendetta" was due to an opportunity to play James Bond in the 2006 film "Casino Royale". 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.

In March 2007, Celtic Films indicated on their website that they have a series of Flashman TV films in development, based on the popular fictional series of novels of the same name by George Macdonald Fraser. Picture Palace Productions announced they were developing "Flashman at the Charge", (the fourth novel in the series of twelve), in conjunction with Celtic Films and that the script was prepared by George Macdonald Fraser himself. Both companies took an extensive role in developing Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe" TV series. Purefoy was rumoured to have provisionally accepted an offer made to play the titular role of Harry Flashman.

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. However, production ultimately did not occur and in August Purefoy was reported as negotiating with NBC to star in another series , "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.

External links

(James Purefoy fansite)

(James Purefoy España (Spanish fansite))

(America's Home for the Marvelous and Very Sexy British Actor, James Purefoy)

(James Purefoy as Blackbeard)

(James Purefoy as Beau Brummell)

(Interview) with James Purefoy, BBC Somerset, September 2005

(Interview) with James Purefoy, BBC Somerset, January 2006

(Interview) with James Purefoy, BBC Somerset, February 2007

(Interview) in "The Guardian", January 6, 2007

("Men's Vogue" profile)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about James Purefoy.