Ian McShane

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This article is about the actor. For the Scottish professional footballer, see Ian McShane (footballer).
Ian McShane
McShane in 2006.
Born (1942-09-29) 29 September 1942 (age 75)
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Occupation Actor, voice actor, director, producer
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Suzan Farmer (m. 1965; div. 1968)
Ruth Post (m. 1970; div. 1976)
Gwen Humble (m. 1980)
Partner(s) Sylvia Kristel (1977–1979)
Children 2

Ian David McShane[1] (born 29 September 1942) is a British actor, voice actor, director, and producer. Despite appearing in numerous films, he is best known for his television roles, particularly BBC's Lovejoy (1986–1994),[2] HBO's drama series Deadwood (2004–2006) and Game of Thrones (2016).[3] He also starred as King Silas Benjamin in the NBC series Kings, Bishop Waleran in The Pillars of the Earth, Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda, and as Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Early life

McShane was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, on 29 September 1942, the son of Irene (née Cowley) (b. 1921) and footballer Harry McShane (1920–2012).[2][3][4] His father was Scottish and his mother, who was born in England, was of Irish and English descent.[5] McShane grew up in Davyhulme, Lancashire, and attended Stretford Grammar School. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was still a student there when he appeared in his first film, 1962's The Wild and the Willing.[2] McShane was a member of National Youth Theatre.


In Great Britain, McShane's best known role may be that of antiques dealer Lovejoy in the hit BBC drama series of the same name.[2][3] He also enjoyed fame in the United States as English cad Don Lockwood in the soap opera Dallas and as an English cockfighting aficionado in the miniseries Roots. Even before Lovejoy, McShane was a pin-up as a result of appearances in television series such as Wuthering Heights (1967, as Heathcliff), If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969, as Charlie), Jesus of Nazareth (1977, as Judas Iscariot), and Disraeli (1978)—as well as films like Sky West and Crooked (1965) and Battle of Britain (1969).

In the United States, he is perhaps best known for the role of historical figure Al Swearengen in the HBO series Deadwood,[3] for which he won the 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama.[2] He was also nominated for at the 2005 Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Within the science fiction community, McShane is best known for playing the character Dr Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls. In 1985, he appeared as an iconic MC on Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm, a concept album which featured his narration interspersed throughout, and which sold over a million copies worldwide.[6][7]

Other recent roles include Captain Hook in Shrek the Third, Iofur Raknison (known as Ragnar Sturlusson in the film) in The Golden Compass, Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda (for which he received an Annie Award nomination), and Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline. In live-action, he has performed in the comedy Hot Rod, the action/thriller Death Race, and The Seeker. He has appeared on the NBC television drama series The West Wing as a Russian diplomat. During 2007–08, he starred as Max in the 40th anniversary Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, co-starring Eve Best, Raúl Esparza and Michael McKean, and directed by Daniel Sullivan, at the Cort Theatre (16 December 2007 to 13 April 2008).[citation needed]

In 2009, McShane appeared on the short-lived NBC television drama series Kings, which was based on the biblical story of David. His portrayal of King Silas Benjamin, an analogue of King Saul, was highly praised, with one critic saying, "Whenever Kings seems to falter, McShane appears to put bite marks all over the scenery."[8]

In 2010, McShane starred in the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth as Bishop Waleran Bigod. The series was a historical drama set in 12th century England and adapted from Ken Follett's novel of the same name.[citation needed]

Also in 2010, the Walt Disney Company confirmed that McShane would play Blackbeard in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides.[9] In 2013, McShane played King Brahmwell in Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer.[10]

Since 2010, McShane has narrated the opening teases for each round of ESPN's coverage of The Open Championship.[11] In 2012, McShane had a guest role for two episodes as Murder Santa, a sadistic serial killer in the 1960s in the second season of American Horror Story, alongside Jessica Lange and Zachary Quinto. In 2016 he will join the cast of the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 6.[12]

Personal life

McShane has been married three times: he first married and divorced Suzanne Farmer in the 1960s. In 1977, McShane began a relationship with actress Sylvia Kristel (star of the sex film Emmanuelle) after meeting her on the set of The Fifth Musketeer.[13] The affair ended his marriage to his second wife, the model Ruth Post, who is the mother of his two children, Kate and Morgan.[2]

On 30 August 1980, McShane married American actress Gwen Humble (born 4 December 1953), whose credits include the Buccaneers, Barnaby Jones, CHiPs, The Greatest American Hero, Three's Company, Remington Steele, Absolutely Fabulous, Lovejoy, The Rebels, and JAG.[14] They live in the Venice Beach community of Los Angeles.[2]



Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Wild and the Willing Harry Brown
1965 The Pleasure Girls Keith Dexter
1966 Sky West and Crooked Roibin
1967 Wuthering Heights Heathcliff
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Charlie Cartwright
1969 Battle of Britain Sgt. Pilot Andy
1970 Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You Fred C. Dobbs
1970 Tam-Lin Tom Lynn
1971 Freelance Mitch
1971 Villain Wolfe Lissner
1972 Left Hand of Gemini Unknown
1972 Sitting Target Birdy Williams
1973 The Last of Sheila Anthony
1975 Ransom Ray Petrie
1975 Journey into Fear Banat
1977 Code Name: Diamond Head Sean Donovan
1979 The Great Riviera Bank Robbery The Brain
1979 The Fifth Musketeer Fouquet
1979 Yesterday's Hero Rod Turner
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her Dr. Alfred Sunshine
1983 Exposed Greg Miller
1985 Ordeal by Innocence Philip Durant
1985 Too Scared to Scream Vincent Hardwick
1985 Torchlight Sidney
1987 Grand Larceny Flanagan
1999 Babylon 5: The River of Souls Robert Bryson, Ph.D.
2000 Sexy Beast Teddy Bass
2002 Bollywood Queen Frank
2003 Agent Cody Banks Dr. Brinkman
2003 Nemesis Game Jeff Novak
2005 Nine Lives Larry Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
2006 Scoop Joe Strombel
2006 We Are Marshall Paul Griffen
2007 Shrek the Third Captain Hook Voice
2007 Hot Rod Frank Powell
2007 The Seeker Merriman Lyon
2007 The Golden Compass Ragnar Sturlusson
2008 Kung Fu Panda Tai Lung Voice
Nominated—Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
2008 Death Race Coach
2009 Coraline Mr. Bobinsky Voice
2009 Case 39 Detective Mike Barron
2009 44 Inch Chest Meredith Also executive producer
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2010 The Sorcerer's Apprentice Narrator Uncredited
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Blackbeard Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain
2012 Snow White & the Huntsman Beith
2013 Jack the Giant Slayer King Brahmwell
2014 Cuban Fury Ron Parfitt
2014 Hercules Amphiaraus
2014 John Wick Winston
2014 El Niño El Inglés
2016 The Brothers Grimsby Post-production
2016 Bolden! Post-production
2016 Bilal Umayya Voice
2016 John Wick 2 Winston Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1966 You Can't Win Joe Lunn 7 episodes
1967 Wuthering Heights Heathcliff 4 episodes
1975 Space: 1999 Anton Zoref Episode: "Force of Life"
1975 The Lives of Jenny Dolan Saunders Television film
1976 The Fantastic Journey Sir James Camden Episode: "The Fantastic Journey" (Pilot Film)
1977 Roots Sir Eric Russell Episode: "Part Nine"
1977 Jesus of Nazareth Judas Iscariot 2 episodes
1978 Will Shakespeare Christopher Marlowe Episode: "Dead Shepherd"
1978 Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli 4 episodes
1978 The Pirate Rashid Television film
1980 Armchair Thriller Curtis 4 episodes
1981–1982 Magnum, P.I. David Norman / Edwin Clutterbuck 2 episodes
1982 Marco Polo Ali Ben Yussouf 2 episodes
1983 Bare Essence Niko Theophilus 11 episodes
1983 Grace Kelly Prince Rainier of Monaco Television film
1985 Evergreen Paul Lerner 3 episodes
1985 A.D. Sejanus 5 episodes
1985 Braker Alan Roswell Television film
1986 American Playhouse Willy Wax Episode: "Rocket to the Moon"
1986–1994 Lovejoy Lovejoy 73 episodes
1987 Miami Vice Esteban Montoya Episode: "Knock, Knock... Who's There?"
1988 War and Remembrance Philip Rule 8 episodes
1989 Dallas Don Lockwood 13 episodes
1989 Minder Jack Last Episode: "The Last Video Show"
1989 Miami Vice Gen. Manuel Borbon Episode: "Freefall"
1989 Dick Francis Mysteries - Blood Sport David Cleveland Television film
1989 Dick Francis Mysteries - Twice Shy David Cleveland Television film
1990 Perry Mason Andre Marchand Television film
1990 Columbo Leland St. John Episode: "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
1996 Madson John Madson 6 episodes
1997 The Naked Truth Leland Banks 2 episodes
2002 The West Wing Nikolai Ivanovich Episode: "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
2002 In Deep Jamie Lamb 2 episodes
2003 Trust Alan Cooper-Fozzard 6 episodes
2003 The Twilight Zone Dr. Chandler Episode: "Cold Fusion"
2004–2006 Deadwood Al Swearengen 36 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Nominated—Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama
2008 SpongeBob SquarePants Gordon Voice
Episode: "Dear Vikings"
2009 Kings King Silas Benjamin 12 episodes
2010 The Pillars of the Earth Waleran Bigod 8 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2010 Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special Tai Lung Voice
Television film
2012 American Horror Story: Asylum Leigh Emerson 2 episodes
2015 Ray Donovan Andrew Finney 7 episodes
2016 Game of Thrones


  1. "Ian McShane, Esq's Biography". Debrett's. 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Gilbey, Ryan (16 March 2013). "Ian McShane: rogue trader". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 385. ISBN 1-84854-195-3. 
  4. "Ian McShane Biography (1942–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  5.   You: . "Start building your family tree today". Thegenealogist.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  6. Billboard – Google Livros. Google Books. 22 November 1986. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  7. Billboard – Google Livros. Google Books. 13 December 1986. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  8. David, My David: Israel's Most Charismatic King Comes to TV by Gordon Haber, 25 March 2009.
  9. "EXCLUSIVE: ‘Pirates 4’ Producer Jerry Bruckheimer Confirms Geoffrey Rush Return, Penelope Cruz As Blackbeard's Daughter » MTV Movies Blog". 
  10. Kit, Borys (21 March 2011). "Ian McShane Joins Bryan Singer's 'Jack the Giant Killer'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  11. 2010 BRITISH OPEN THURSDAY on YouTube
  12. "Ian McShane cast in Game of Thrones season 6". Watchers On The Wall. 1 August 2015. 
  13. Ross, Deborah (30 June 2007). "Interview: Sylvia Kristel, the world's most famous porn star". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 20 November 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  14. Ian McShane at the Internet Movie Database

External links