James Norton (actor)

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This article is about the English actor. For other people, see James Norton (disambiguation).
James Norton
Born 1985 (age 29–30)
London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 2009-present
Known for Happy Valley
Home town Malton, Ryedale

James Norton (born 1985) is an English film, television and stage actor. He played the lead role of Captain Stanhope in the 2011 revival of Journey's End and has appeared in the films Rush, Belle and Mr. Turner. His television roles include Onegin in an episode of Doctor Who, Henry Alveston in the BBC historical drama Death Comes to Pemberley, and as the dangerous ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in the 2014 BBC crime drama Happy Valley. For his role in Happy Valley he was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2015.

In October 2014 he began playing Canon Sidney Chambers in the ITV period drama Grantchester.[1]

Early life[edit]

Norton was born in London, England to a father and mother who are both teachers.[2] Though originally from London, Norton's family lived in the small town of Malton in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.[3][4] Norton described his childhood as "idyllic", a time where he lived at the edge of the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire.[1]


Norton was educated at Ampleforth College,[5] a Roman Catholic (Benedictine) boarding independent school in the village of Ampleforth in North Yorkshire, where he excelled in theatre and tennis. He did work experience at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, North Yorkshire when he was 15.[2]

Starting in 2004, he read Theology at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge.[5] Norton received a Fitzwilliam Travel Grant to travel to Northern India, to teach and perform for schoolchildren at 16 schools.[5]

Norton was a member of The Marlowe Society theatre club at Cambridge, and in 2007 he played Posthumus in a production of Cymbeline directed by Trevor Nunn for the society's centenary.[6] Norton said he did "loads" of theatre during college.[7][8]

Norton then went on to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London for three years, graduating in 2010.[9]


Norton had a bit part in the film An Education starring Carey Mulligan in 2009.[9] He was an original cast member of Posh at the Royal Court Theatre in 2010.[10] At the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2010, Norton starred in That Face as Henry, an 18-year-old who has dropped out of school to care for his mentally disturbed and drug-dependent mother, played by Frances Barber. Lynne Walker of The Independent wrote of his performance: "At the centre of it all is Henry who, in James Norton's striking portrayal, is like a young caged animal".[11]

In 2011, Norton starred as Captain Stanhope in the classic First World War drama Journey's End.[12] The production toured the UK from March to June and transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End from July to September.[4] Norton then took the role of Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket directed by Trevor Nunn, with whom Norton had worked at Cambridge in Cymbeline.[9]

In the 2012 period film Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, Norton played Owen, the would-be groom of a conflicted bride.[13] He appeared in the 2013 film Rush as Formula One driver Guy Edwards. In the 2013 film Belle, he played a suitor of the title character, a mixed-race lady in 18th century English society.[14]

Norton's television appearances include the Doctor Who episode "Cold War", in which he played a crewman on a Soviet submarine during the Cold War, and Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the P. D. James novel involving characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice caught up in a murder mystery.

Norton was acclaimed for his role as Tommy Lee Royce, the villain of the hit crime drama Happy Valley. Michael Hogan of The Telegraph wrote: "...the breakout star, seen in only a few small parts before this, has been the devilishly handsome James Norton, 29, as the heinous killer Royce, whom he has played with impressive depth".[15] As the series came to its dramatic conclusion, Norton commented, "8 million people are currently wishing me dead".[15] Norton confirmed he would be appearing in the second series of Happy Valley at the 2015 BAFTAs.[16]

In the 2014 ITV series Grantchester, based on the novels by James Runcie, Norton plays crime-solving vicar Sidney Chambers alongside Robson Green as Police Inspector Geordie Keating.[17][18] Grantchester was his first starring role.[19]

He also appears in the 2014 films Northmen: A Viking Saga and Mr. Turner, a biographical drama on the life of the artist J. M. W. Turner by director Mike Leigh.[20] Norton is currently shooting a BBC drama about the Bloomsbury Group called Life in Squares.[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

In 2014, Norton said he bought a house in the Peckham area of London.[8]

Asked if he is religious, Norton said: "[O]bviously I have a relationship with religion, because I went to a Catholic school and studied theology. I can't call myself religious, but I'm definitely fascinated by it".[8]

Selected works[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
2014 Bonobo Ralph
2014 Northmen: A Viking Saga Bjorn
2014 Mr. Turner Francis Willoughby
2013 Rush Guy Edwards
2013 Belle Oliver Ashford
2012 Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Owen
2009 An Education Jenny's boyfriend


Year Title Role Notes
2015 War and Peace Prince Andrei Bolkonsky Series regular; 6 episodes
2015 Life in Squares Duncan Grant Series regular; 3 episodes
2015 Lady Chatterley's Lover Sir Clifford Chatterley TV film
2014 Grantchester Sidney Chambers Series regular; 6 episodes
2014 Happy Valley Tommy Lee Royce Series regular; 6 episodes
2013 Death Comes to Pemberley Henry Alveston Series regular; 3 episodes
2013 Doctor Who Onegin 1 episode: "Cold War"
2013 Blandings Jimmy Belford 1 episode: "Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey"
2013 By Any Means Michael Prence 1 episode: "Episode 1"
2012 Restless Kolia 1 episode
2012 Inspector George Gently James Blackstone 1 episode: "Gently with Class"


Year(s) Production Role Notes
2011–2012 The Lion in Winter (1966)
by James Goldman
Geoffrey 5 Nov 2011–28 Jan 2012 at Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London's West End.
2011 Journey's End (1928)
by R. C. Sherriff
Captain Stanhope
(lead role)
Mar.-Jun.: On tour.
Jul.–Sep.: Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End.
2010 That Face (2007)
by Polly Stenham
Henry Performed at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2010.
2010 Posh (2010)
by Laura Wade
Miles Richards Performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in early 2010.
2007 Cymbeline (c. 1611)
by William Shakespeare
Posthumus Performed by The Marlowe Society at Cambridge Arts Theatre while Norton was still a student. Directed by Trevor Nunn.

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Dragon Age: Inquisition Cole Voice

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2014 Happy Valley Crime Thriller Awards Best Supporting Actor Won[22]
2015 Happy Valley British Academy Television Awards Best Supporting Actor Pending[23]


  1. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn (9 January 2015). "Easily Channeling a Vulnerable Vicar: James Norton in ‘Grantchester’ on PBS ‘Masterpiece’". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Williams, Andrew (1 June 2014). "'I admire Michael Fassbender enormously,' says Happy Valley's James Norton". The Sunday Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "How James Norton went from killer to clergyman". The Yorkshire Post. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Hutchinson, Charles (19 May 2011). "Review: Journey's End, Leeds Grand Theatre". The Press (York). Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "All the world’s a stage" (PDF). Optima (Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge) (13): 13. Autumn 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (24 September 2007). "The Marlowe Society: Talent show for theatre's brightest stars". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "James Norton". The Artists Partnership. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Merry, Elspeth (28 April 2014). "James Norton". 1883 Magazine. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Watson, Jonathan (4 November 2011). "James Norton: Joining the big league". The Stage. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Billington, Michael (16 April 2010). "'Posh' – Royal Court, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Walker, Lynne (9 July 2010). "'That Face, Crucible Studio, Sheffield". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Best of British: James Norton". ShortList. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 December 2012). "There Will Always Be a Fantasy England: 'Cheerful Weather for the Wedding' With Elizabeth McGovern". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Darling, Cary (21 May 2014). "Movie Review: 'Belle'". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Hogan, Michael (3 June 2014). "Happy Valley's James Norton: '8 million people are currently wishing me dead'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "James Norton will return to Happy Valley for series 2". Digital Spy. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "ITV announces the cast of new six-part drama Grantchester". ITV Press Centre. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Debnath, Neela (20 October 2014). "Grantchester star Robson Green: ‘We’re going to lose James Norton quickly’". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Cite error: The named reference NottPost-Grantchester-2014 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  20. ^ a b Fisher, Alice (5 October 2014). "Fashion: James Norton under cover". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Molloy, Antonia (18 August 2014). "New BBC drama Life in Squares to track lives of Bloomsbury Set". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Winners unmasked at Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2014 on ITV3". ITV. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "Bafta TV awards 2015: Nominations in full". BBC. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 

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