Britton as Petruchio
11 December 1962 |
London, England, United Kingdom
Eva Castle Britton
Jasper Britton (born 11 December 1962) is an English actor.
Britton is the son of veteran actor Tony Britton, and Danish sculptor and member of the World War II Danish Resistance, Eva Castle Britton (née Skytte Birkefeldt). His half-sisters are television presenter Fern Britton and scriptwriter Cherry Britton.
Born in Chelsea, London, Britton attended Belmont Prep and Mill Hill School, where he achieved a grade 'Unclassified' in Maths O-Level, but where also, bored during a history lesson, he turned over the paper on which he was doodling to discover it was a script of his father's, started to read it, and began a long love affair with the theatre.
Britton worked for six years as an assistant stage manager and sound operator until 1989 when, while working for Jonathan Miller at the Old Vic, he forced his way into Miller's office and refused to leave until Miller agreed to let him audition for King Lear. His King of France to Eric Porter's Lear was the beginning of a prolific stage career.
Early plays included The Visit with Theatre de Complicite at the Royal National Theatre, The Cherry Orchard, Macbeth and A Flea in her Ear at Nottingham Playhouse. A season at the Royal Shakespeare Company included A Jovial Crew for Max Stafford-Clarke, Tamburlaine for Terry Hands and The Beggar's Opera and Antony and Cleopatra for John Caird. There followed the Dauphin in St Joan at the Strand Theatre and an award winning performance as Rupert in Rope at Salisbury Playhouse.
It was on replacing Eddie Izzard in the title role in Brian Cox's 1995 Richard III and opening to rave reviews that Britton emerged as one of the prominent actors of his generation. He next played the groom role in Blood Wedding at the Young Vic, the first in a series of romantic leads, followed by Rupert Goold's adaptation of End of the Affair, Jonathan Church's Romeo and Juliet and Bill Bryden's Three Sisters.
Britton was part of Trevor Nunn's ensemble company at the National Theatre in 1999, revealing a more playful side as an irreverent character actor in the eccentric repertoire of Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, Ryumin in Maxim Gorky's Summerfolk, Smooth in Money directed by John Caird and revealing a strong singing voice as The Cat in Honk!.
Two seasons at the Shakespeare's Globe for Mark Rylance followed, first playing Palamon in The Two Noble Kinsmen, and in The Tempest a Caliban that has passed into Globe legend, a muddy loveable monster who stole props to hide in his underpants, and who spat fish-heads at the audience. A year later he returned as the title character in Macbeth.
After Simon Gray's Japes for Peter Hall at the Haymarket Theatre and Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce at the Aldwych Theatre came Britton's performance as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed for Greg Doran at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C., which was the hit of the season and transferred to the Queen's Theatre in London for an award-winning sell-out run.
Other stage credits include Henry II in Becket at the Haymarket Theatre for John Caird, Hedda Gabler for Matthew Lloyd, Satan in Paradise Lost for Rupert Goold, Adolf in Ibsen's The Father for Angus Jackson, and Jean in Rhinoceros for Dominic Cooke.
In 2008 he played John Gielgud in Nicholas de Jongh's first play Plague Over England, Nansen in Tony Harrison's Fram and Creon opposite Ralph Fiennes in Oedipus the King, the latter both at the National Theatre. In 2009 he played Elyot in Private Lives opposite Claire Price at Hampstead Theatre, directed by Lucy Bailey.
Most recently he played one third of Simon Gray's persona in The Last Cigarette at Chichester Festival Theatre and the Trafalgar Studios, with Felicity Kendal and Nicholas Le Prevost; and Jack Lawson in Mamet's Race at the Hampstead Theatre, London.
Britton played the Court Laureate in Terrence Malick's The New World alongside Colin Farrell, Jonathan Pryce and Christian Bale. He most recently donned bells and hankies to play Will Frosser, the foreman of the Millsham Morris Side in the forthcoming feature film, Morris: A Life with Bells On, which also features Derek Jacobi, Harriet Walter, Greg Wise, Sophie Thompson and Dominique Pinon.
He is a Garrick Club member, collector of vintage pond yachts, member of the Vintage Model Yacht Group, and a keen motorcyclist.