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10 May 1957 |
Jennings was born in Essex, the son of Peggy Patricia (nee Mahoney) and Michael Thomas Jennings. He attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch and then studied English and Theatre studies at the University of Warwick, graduating in 1978. He trained as an actor for two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Jennings began his career in regional repertory theatre, playing a range of roles including Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel. For his performance as Gloumov in Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic, he won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1988. He was nominated in the same category the following year for portraying Dorante in The Liar. He has performed for the Royal National Theatre in a number of plays, including Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Albert Speer.
His Royal Shakespeare Company roles include the title role in Peer Gynt (for which he won an Olivier Award 1995-06 for Best Actor), the title role in Richard II (opposite Anton Lesser as Henry Bolingbroke), Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK, American tour and Broadway), Angelo in Measure for Measure, and the title role in Hamlet. In 2002, he appeared in the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn revival of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical.
His film appearances include The Queen, War Requiem, the RSC's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Mark in the Oscar-nominated movie The Wings of the Dove, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Four Feathers.
His television appearances include The State Within, Smiley's People, The Franchise Affair, Inspector Morse, Alfonso Bonzo, the title role in Ashenden, Dead Poets Society, Inspector Alleyn, Hard Times, Bad Blood, and Peter Ackroyd's London. His many radio credits include Casino Royale, The Way of the World, Strange Meeting, Vorbis in Small Gods, and The Old Curiosity Shop. He has also recorded the audio versions of the books The Horse and His Boy, Out of the Silent Planet, and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which was selected in June 2008 as one of the top forty audiobooks of all time. He is also a regular narrator on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.
In 2007 he played Gary in Present Laughter at the NT, and the Rev Hutton in the BBC series Cranford. He also played John Le Mesurier in the one-off BBC drama Hancock and Joan. In June 2008, he made his operatic debut at the ENO in Robert Carsen's production of Bernstein's Candide, in which he played Voltaire and Doctor Pangloss. In 2009, he appeared in The Habit of Art as Benjamin Britten. In 2006, he recorded an abridgment of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. In 2010, he played Captain Shipshape in the CBeebies second series of Grandpa In My Pocket, and starred in the film Belle. After that, he played Henry Tizard in Castles in the Sky.
Jennings has two children with Lesley Moors, his long-term partner.
- "Alex Jennings Biography". filmreference. 2008. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- "Alex Jennings to take over from Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka". bestoftheatre.co.uk. Best of Theatre. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.