From a lawless, foul-mouthed saloon owner in "Deadwood" to a tough, no-nonsense British gangster in "Sexy Beast," Ian McShane has virtually cornered the market on playing rogues, villains, and all-around badasses.
A natural at portraying complex anti-heroes and charismatic heavies, the classically trained actor was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, to parents Irene (Cowley) and Harry McShane, a soccer player for Manchester United. McShane caught his first break in 1962 when he landed a lead role in "The Wild and the Willing." McShane later revealed that he had ditched class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to audition for the role. Since then, the award-winning actor has gone on to grab the attention of audiences and critics alike with his unforgettable portrayals of scoundrels, kings, killers, and thieves.
McShane will next star opposite David Harbour in "Hellboy," directed by Neil Marshall for Lionsgate and Millennium Films. Recently he reprised his role as club owner/ex-assassin Winston opposite Keanu Reeves in "John Wick: Chapter 2," the film by director Chad Stahelski. He also played Leland, a retired sheriff with violent tendencies, opposite Patrick Wilson in "The Hollow Point," the gritty drama directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego and appeared alongside Johnny Harris and Ray Winstone in Thomas Napper's blistering boxing drama "Jawbone." Also expect to see McShane in the upcoming films "Bolden!" directed by Dan Pritzker and "Pottersville" opposite Michael Shannon. On television, McShane stars as Mr. Wednesday in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods," the hit series for Starz produced by Michael Green and Bryan Fuller. "Actor. Icon. And now god. It is a goddamn delight to be collaborating with the incomparable Ian McShane," said Michael Green recently. McShane previously starred in the Michael Green series "Kings" for NBC. McShane will also be seen opposite Dr. Dre for Apple TV's first scripted series "Vital Signs," a semi-autobiographical series loosely based on the hip-hop icon's life.
McShane's formidable acting resume is as long as it is varied. McShane starred as the notoriously fearsome pirate Blackbeard opposite Johnny Depp in Disney's worldwide blockbuster hit "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." He starred as priest/prophet/warrior Amphiarus opposite Dwayne Johnson in MGM's "Hercules," played lead dwarf Beith in the dark fantasy flick "Snow White and the Huntsman," and portrayed good King Bramwell in Bryan Singer's modern-day fairy tale "Jack the Giant Slayer." McShane also appeared as Joe Strombel in Woody Allen's "Scoop." His universally praised performance as tough guy Teddy Bass in the cult indie hit "Sexy Beast" led one London critic to dub McShane as "The King of Cool." In a change of pace, he portrayed soft-spoken Meredith in the darkly perverse crime drama "44 Inch Chest," a film in which McShane not only starred, but also produced.
McShane has also had a long and diverse career on both British and American television. Earning considerable critical acclaim as the fierce yet charismatic Al Swearengen in the much-loved David Milch HBO series "Deadwood," McShane went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series. His compelling and gritty portrayal also scored him nominations for both Emmy and SAG Awards. He went on to collect yet another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Miniseries for his riveting portrayal of the scheming, corrupt Waleran Bigod in Starz' Emmy-nominated "Pillars of the Earth." McShane also won over viewers in FX's "American Horror Story" as the very bad Santa/serial killer Leigh Emerson and as cold-blooded billionaire Andrew Finney opposite Liev Schreiber in Showtime's acclaimed series "Ray Donovan." More recently, he portrayed Sir Roger Scatcherd in the Julian Fellows' miniseries "Dr. Thorne" for ITV and also made an appearance as peacenik Brother Ray in HBO's juggernaut "Game of Thrones."
Earlier in his television career McShane produced and starred as the irresistible rogue antiques dealer in the acclaimed series "Lovejoy" for the BBC and A&E, even directing several episodes himself. The show was one of the first independent co-productions with the BBC and aired in both the U.S. and U.K. Other notable portrayals on television have included his appearance in the landmark, blockbuster miniseries "Roots" and as Ken Harrison in "Whose Life is it Anyway?" McShane also played Sejanus in the miniseries "A.D.," the eponymous "Disraeli," produced by Masterpiece Theater, and Judas in NBC's "Jesus of Nazareth."
An accomplished, award-winning stage actor, McShane made his West End debut in "The Promise," co-starring Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen. The play went on to open on Broadway the following year. McShane also charmed audiences in the West End musical "The Witches of Eastwick," originating the role of the seductive, sex-obsessed Darryl Van Horne on stage in London. At the esteemed L.A. Matrix Theatre, McShane appeared in Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," Larry Atlas' "Yield of the Long Bond", as well as in John Osborne's "Inadmissible Evidence," picking up a couple of Los Angeles Drama Critics' Awards for Lead Performance in the process. In addition, McShane appeared in the 40th Anniversary revival of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" on Broadway. With his low, distinctive voice, McShane has also made his mark in film and television as a voiceover artist. He narrated Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," brought life to the eccentric magician Mr. Bobinsky in "Coraline," and added a sinister edge to Tai Lung in "Kung Fu Panda." McShane has also lent his rich baritone to "The Golden Compass," as well as to "Shrek The Third" as the notorious Captain Hook.View Full Bio