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Who is Ian McShane, actor who plays Mr. Wednesday on American Gods?

Ian McShane as the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday on American Gods
Ian McShane as the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday on American Gods

American Gods is finally here — with British actor Ian McShane as the enigmatically charming Mr. Wednesday.

McShane is instantly recognisable to many, with a body of work that dates back to the 1960s.

But what have you seen him in?

McShane is the son of Manchester United soccer player Harry McShane, who was a winger for the iconic club under legendary soccer manager Sir Matt Busby.

However, Ian McShane took a different route to his father and became an actor. He studied at the Royal Academy of dramatic art and graduated in the mid 60s.

McShane first gained notice in the UK when he played Heathcliff in a 1967 production of Wuthering Heights. This role and subsequent parts gave the actor pin-up status in Britain during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Another notable role for the actor came in 1977 when he played Judas the betrayer in Franco Zeffirelli’s legendary television mini-series Jesus Of Nazareth.

The actor would continue to be a mainstay in film and television in lead and character roles, which was something that he specialised in.

But true stardom didn’t really come knocking for Ian McShane until around 1986 when he persuaded his friend to pitch the BBC with the series Lovejoy.

Ian McShane as roguish antiques dealer and forger Lovejoy

Lovejoy centred on a roguish, but lovable antiques dealer who had a gift for creating convincing forgeries.

The series became a bonafide hit for the BBC and made McShane a household name. The show ended in 1994.

In the early 1990s McShane moved to Los Angeles to be with his wife Gwen Humble.

The actor’s big break-out role in the US came in 2000 when he played Teddy Bass in the hit film Sexy Beast.

In 2004 after having played a string of roles in TV series and films, McShane came to the attention once more of US and international audiences for his role as Al Swearengen in the hit series Deadwood.

Ian McShane as brothel owner and inn keeper Al Swearengen on Deadwood

This role solidified Ian McShane as a talent to be reckoned with.

After Deadwood ended its run, McShane went on to gain other notable roles as Blackbeard in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Leigh Emerson on American Horror Story: Asylum and more recently as Andrew Finney on Ray Donavan.

The actor also recently snagged a one-off role in the hit Game Of Thrones for HBO, before his most recent role as Mr. Wednesday in American Gods.

Ian McShane lives happily with his wife in Venice Beach, California.

American Gods airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.


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