Michael Pennington

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This article is about the actor Michael Pennington. For the comedian, see Johnny Vegas.
Michael Pennington
Born (1943-06-07) 7 June 1943 (age 71)
Cambridge, England

Michael Vivian Fyfe Pennington (born 7 June 1943) is a British director and actor who, together with director Michael Bogdanov, founded the English Shakespeare Company. Although primarily a stage actor, he is best known to wider audiences for his role as Moff Jerjerrod, commanding officer of the Death Star in the film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and as Michael Foot in The Iron Lady, opposite Meryl Streep.

Life and career[edit]

Pennington was born in East Anglia, the son of a Scottish mother (Euphemia Willock (née Fyfe) and a Welsh father (Vivian Maynard Cecil Pennington) and grew up in London.[1] He was educated at Marlborough College and later read English at Trinity College, Cambridge.[2]

Most of his career has been on stage in works such as Hamlet (RSC), Oedipus the King, The Entertainer, and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. In 1986, Pennington and director Michael Bogdanov together founded the English Shakespeare Company. As joint artistic director, he starred in the company's inaugural productions of The Henrys and, in 1987, the seven-play history cycle of The Wars of the Roses, which toured worldwide. He has directed plays including Twelfth Night at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the United States. Among his notable TV appearances have been in the title role of "Oedipus the King" and in the television movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes. He appeared in the 2005 film Fragile, co-starring Calista Flockhart. He is the author of the book Are You There, Crocodile?[3] which combines biographical material about the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov with an account of the writing of Pennington's highly successful one-man show about Chekhov; the full text of which is included. He has also written three books about individual Shakespeare plays and most recently "Sweet William - Twenty Thousand Hours with Shakespeare". His solo show "Sweet William" toured worldwide and was recorded as a DVD.

In April 2004 he became the second actor, after Harley Granville-Barker in 1925, to deliver the British Academy's annual Shakespeare lecture. The lecture was entitled Barnadine's Straw: The Devil in Shakespeare's Detail.[4]

Selected stage credits[edit]



  • Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
  • Fragile (2005)
  • The Iron Lady (2011)


  • Rossya: A Journey through Siberia (1977)
  • Txèkhov - Un monòleg sobre la vida d'Anton Txèkhov (1989)(Catalan translation of Anton Chekhov) ISBN 84-297-2876-7
  • Hamlet: A User's Guide (1996)
  • Twelfth Night: A User's Guide (2000)
  • Are You There Crocodile? Inventing Anton Chekhov (2003)
  • A Pocket Guide to Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg (2004)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream: A User's Guide (2005)
  • Sweet William: Twenty Thousand Hours with Shakespeare (2012)


  1. ^ Michael Pennington Biography (1943-)
  2. ^ "The Latest Prince", The Sunday Telegraph, July 1980, Daniel Farson. Accessed 4 August 2014
  3. ^ Oberon Books, London, 2003
  4. ^ Proceedings of the British Academy, vol 131, 2004 Lectures, pp 205-227
  5. ^ Hamlet:A User's Guide, p 7
  6. ^ Are You There Crocodile? Inventing Anton Chekhov

Sweet William: A User's Guide to Shakespeare Nick Hern books, Published 2012

External links[edit]