David Thewlis

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David Thewlis
David Thewlis 2008.jpg
Born David Wheeler
(1963-03-20) 20 March 1963 (age 52)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Residence Paris, France
Nationality English
Education Highfield High School
Alma mater Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Occupation Actor, author, film director, screenwriter
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Sara Sugarman (1992–93)
Partner(s) Anna Friel (2001–2010)
Children Gracie Ellen Mary Thewlis
Parent(s) Alec Raymond Wheeler
(father) (deceased)
Maureen Wheeler
(mother) (deceased)

David Thewlis (né David Wheeler; born 20 March 1963)[1] is an English actor of stage and screen. His most commercially successful role to date has been that of Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film series. Other notable performances include his work in the films Naked (1993), Timeline (2003), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Omen (2006), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), London Boulevard (2010) and War Horse (2011). He made his name known in 1993 with his performance of Johnny in Naked and with his performance of main antagonist King Einon in the 1996 film Dragonheart. He has also done voice work in the films James and the Giant Peach (1996) and The Miracle Maker (2000).

Early life[edit]

David, second of three children, was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, the son of Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler.[2] Both parents worked at his father's shop. As a teenager, he played in a rock band called QED, and played lead guitar with a punk rock band called Door 66. He was educated at Highfield High School, a state secondary school in Marton, Blackpool. Later, he enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 1984. [3]


He had a minor role in an episode of the 1980s sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle.[4] He also appeared in an episode of popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses (1985) as a friend of Rodney in his band. His first professional role was in the play Buddy Holly at the Regal in Greenwich.[3] His first major film role was as the rambling street philosopher Johnny in Naked (1993; dir. Mike Leigh), for which he was named best actor by the National Society of Film Critics (United States), the London Film Critics Circle, the Evening Standard, the New York Film Critics' Circle and the Cannes Film Festival. The same year, he appeared on television as a sexual predator named James Jackson in Prime Suspect 3, opposite Helen Mirren and Ciarán Hinds. Prior to this, his first television appearance was alongside Ken Jones in Valentine Park. Through the 1990s, he appeared in a variety of films, mostly fantasy and period, including Restoration (1995), Black Beauty (1994), Total Eclipse (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Dragonheart (1996) and Seven Years in Tibet (1997), opposite Brad Pitt. He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Divorcing Jack (1998), and played Clov in a (2000) television film of Samuel Beckett's Endgame. Notable appearances also include Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged (1998) and Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 (2000), opposite Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell.

He auditioned for the role of Quirrell in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but the part went to Ian Hart. Despite missing out on the first film, in 2004, he was cast as Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He didn't have to audition as he was director Alfonso Cuarón's first choice for the role.[5] He reprised the role in four other films in the series.

He also appears as an SS Commandant of a Nazi death camp, father of the main character in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Recent credits include Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005) and The Omen (2006). As a director, he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film for Hello, Hello, Hello (1995); he has also written, directed and starred in the feature Cheeky (2003). When researching for his role in Kingdom of Heaven, he went to the Hospitaller museum near his home, and the first thing he saw was a mannequin wearing the same costume that he wore in the film.[3]

He plays the late Dr. Michael Aris, husband of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, with Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, in the biopic The Lady directed by Luc Besson.

He received a International Festival of Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera Award in 2012.

Personal life[edit]

In 1992, David married director Sara Sugarman; they divorced in 1994. He then had a brief relationship with Bill Oddie's daughter Kate Hardie. In 2001, he began a relationship with actress Anna Friel, who he met on a flight to Cannes. They have one child together.[6] Friel and Thewlis ended their relationship in late 2010, after almost a decade.[7]

David owns a converted Victorian ballroom in Clerkenwell. He also is often mistaken for fellow actor Rhys Ifans: "Twice a week, people come up to me and say, 'You were great in Notting Hill'. The public seem to think we are the same person."[3] David's ex-partner Anna Friel has been in a relationship with Rhys Ifans since 2011. David has also written a novel called The Late Hector Kipling, published by Simon & Schuster in 2007.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Road Joey
Short & Curlies, TheThe Short & Curlies Clive Short film
1988 Vroom Ringe
Little Dorrit George Braddle
1989 Resurrected Kevin Deakin
1991 Life Is Sweet Nicola's lover
Afraid of the Dark Locksmith
Tom Miller
1992 Swords at Teatime Michael Short film
Damage Detective
1993 Trial, TheThe Trial Franz
Naked Johnny
1994 Black Beauty Jerry Barker
1995 Total Eclipse Paul Verlaine
Restoration John Pearce
Hello, Hello, Hello N/A Short film; directed and wrote
1996 James and the Giant Peach Earthworm (voice)
Dragonheart King Einon
Island of Dr. Moreau, TheThe Island of Dr. Moreau Edward Douglas
1997 American Perfekt Santini
Seven Years in Tibet Peter Aufschnaiter Banned from entering the People's Republic of China.
1998 Big Lebowski, TheThe Big Lebowski Knox Harrington
Divorcing Jack Dan Starkey
Besieged Jason Kinsky
1999 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? Nesbit
2000 Miracle Maker, TheThe Miracle Maker Judas Iscariot (voice)
Gangster No. 1 Freddie Mays
Beckett on Film – Endgame Clov
2001 Goodbye Charlie Bright Charlie's dad
2002 D.I.Y. Hard Man
2003 Cheeky Harry Sankey Also directed and wrote
Timeline Robert Doniger
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Remus Lupin
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Hospitaller
All the Invisible Children Jonathan
New World, TheThe New World Edward Wingfield
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Roy Washburn
Omen, TheThe Omen Keith Jennings
2007 Inner Life of Martin Frost, TheThe Inner Life of Martin Frost Martin Frost
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Remus Lupin
2008 Boy in the Striped Pajamas, TheThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas SS-Obersturmbannführer Ralph
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Remus Lupin
Veronika Decides to Die Dr. Blake
2010 Mr. Nice Jim McCann
London Boulevard Jordan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Remus Lupin
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Lady, TheThe Lady Michael Aris
Anonymous William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
War Horse Lyons
2012 Separate We Come, Separate We Go Norman Short film
2013 RED 2 The Frog
The Fifth Estate Nick Davies
The Zero Theorem Joby
2014 The Theory of Everything Dennis Sciama
Stonehearst Asylum Mickey Finn
Queen and Country Bradley Post-production
2015 Regression Professor Kenneth Raines Filming
Legend Leslie Payne Post-production
Macbeth Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Only Fools and Horses Stew Episode: "It's Only Rock and Roll"
Radio Pictures Jim Grams TV film
1986 Singing Detective, TheThe Singing Detective Second Soldier Episodes: "Lovely Days"
"Who Done It"
1987–1988 Valentine Park Max
1989 Bit of a Do, AA Bit of a Do Paul Simcock Episodes: "The White Wedding"
"The Dentist's Dinner Dance"
"The Angling Club Christmas Party"
"The Charity Horse-Racing Evening"
"The Crowning of Miss Frozen Chicken"
"The Registry Office Wedding"
Skulduggery Tony TV film
1990 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Doctor TV mini-series
1991 Journey to Knock Terry TV film
Shrinks Terry Slater Episode 1.5
Screen One Tim Shanks Episode: "Filipina Dreamgirls"
1992 Black and Blue Crematorium attendant TV film
1993 Frank Stubbs Promotes Mike Bence Episode: "Striker"
Prime Suspect 3 James Jackson TV film
1994 Dandelion Dead Oswald Martin TV mini-series
1999 Love Story Dealer TV film
2000 Endgame Clov
2001 Hamilton Mattress Hamilton Mattress (voice)
2002 Dinotopia Cyrus Crabb TV mini-series
2007 Street, TheThe Street Joe
Harry Jennerson
Episode: "Twins"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2004 World of Warcraft Lord Darius Crowley
2010 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
1993 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Naked Won
Evening Standard British Film Award Best Actor Won
London Film Critics Circle Award British Actor of the Year Won
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actor Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actor Won
1995 BAFTA Award Best Short Film
Shared with Helen Booth and James Roberts
Hello, Hello, Hello Nominated
1998 British Independent Film Award Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film Divorcing Jack Nominated
2006 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor Basic Instinct 2 / The Omen Nominated
2007 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Golden Nymph for Outstanding Actor – Drama Series The Street Nominated
2008 British Independent Film Awards Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Film Won
2009 Scream Award Best Ensemble
Shared with the entire cast
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Won
2010 Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy London Boulevard Won
2011 Scream Award Best Ensemble
Shared with the entire cast
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated


  1. ^ "Behind The Voice Actors - David Thewlis". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ "David Thewlis profile at FilmReference.com". Film Reference.com. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d Grice, Elizabeth (4 May 2005). "'Anna has changed me for the better'". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  4. ^ "Up the Elephant and Round the Castle(1983–1985) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Morris, Clint (9 June 2004). "Interview: David Thewlis". Movie Hole. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2007. 
  6. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "Friel, David split after nine years". Digital Spy. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  8. ^ ISBN 9781416541219

External links[edit]