||This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2008)|
|Born||Leslie Steven Berks
3 August 1937
Stepney, London, England
|Occupation||Actor, director, writer|
(August 1976; divorced)
Steven Berkoff (born 3 August 1937) is an English actor, playwright, author and director, best known for his performances in villainous roles, such as Lt. Col Podovsky in Rambo: First Blood Part II, General Orlov in the James Bond film Octopussy, Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop and Adolf Hitler in the epic mini-series War and Remembrance.
Early life 
Berkoff was born Leslie Steven Berks in Stepney in the East End of London on 3 August 1937, the son of Pauline (Hyman), a housewife and Alfred Berks (Berkovitch), a tailor. His family was of Russian-Jewish background. He attended Raine's Foundation Grammar School (1948–50), Hackney Downs School, the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (1958) and L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq (1965).
In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of verse-plays including: East (1975); Greek (1980) and Decadence (1981) as well as West (1983); Sink the Belgrano! (1986); Massage (1997); Sturm und Drang and The Secret Love Life of Ophelia (2001).
Critic Ned Chaillett has described Sink the Belgrano!, a critical take on the Falklands War which premièred at the Half Moon Theatre in Stepney on 2 September 1986, as "a diatribe in punk-Shakespearean verse" and Berkoff himself described it as "even by my modest standards ... one of the best things I have done".
|“||The language is usually filthy, characters talk about unmentionable subjects, take their clothes off, have sex, humiliate each another, experience unpleasant emotions, become suddenly violent. At its best, this kind of theatre is so powerful, so visceral, that it forces audiences to react: either they feel like fleeing the building or they are suddenly convinced that it is the best thing they have ever seen and want all their friends to see it too. It is the kind of theatre that inspires us to use superlatives, whether in praise or condemnation."||”|
In 1988, he directed an interpretation of Salome by Oscar Wilde, performed in slow motion, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin. In his first directorial job at the UK's National Theatre, Berkoff then revived the play with a new cast at the Lyttelton auditorium, opening on 7 November 1989.
In an August 2010 interview with guest presenter Emily Maitlis on The Andrew Marr Show, he said he found it 'flattering' playing evil characters, saying that the best actors took on the roles of villains.
In 2011, Berkoff revived a previously performed one-man show at the Hammersmith Riverside Studios called One Man. It consisted of two monologues; the first was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Tell-Tale Heart and the second was a piece written by Berkoff called Dog, which was a comedy about a loud-mouthed football fan and his dog.
Film and Television 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2008)|
In Hollywood films, Steven Berkoff has played villains such as the corrupt art dealer Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop; gangster George Cornell in The Krays; the sadistic Soviet officer Col. Podovsky in Rambo: First Blood Part II and General Orlov in the James Bond film Octopussy. Berkoff has stated that he takes Hollywood roles only in order to subsidise his theatre work. He regards many of the films he has appeared in as lacking artistic merit.
He also appeared in the 1967 Hammer film Prehistoric Women, in the 1980 film McVicar alongside Roger Daltrey and in the 1996 Australian biographical film on the early life of Errol Flynn entitled Flynn (entitled My Forgotten Man in some markets).
In 1998, he made a guest appearance in La Femme Nikita (episode "In Between").
Berkoff portrayed Dirch Frode, attorney to Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), in David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, opposite Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig and also appeared in the 2011 independent feature Moving Target.
On television, he had an early role in an episode of The Avengers. He also had an early role as a regular playing a Moonbase Interceptor pilot in the Gerry Anderson TV series UFO. His other television roles include: Hagath in the episode "Business as Usual" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Stilgar in the 2003 miniseries Children of Dune; a gangster (Mr Wiltshire) in episode 8 of the BBC's Hotel Babylon series; a lawyer (Freddie Eccles) in an episode of ITV's Marple entitled By the Pricking of My Thumbs and Adolf Hitler in the mini-series War and Remembrance, a role he originally baulked at taking, primarily on moral grounds, he later relented.
Berkoff played the historical Florentine preacher Girolamo Savonarola on two separate television series. The first time was in 1991 for the television film A Season of Giants. He would again play the role of Savonarola on the 2011 series The Borgias.
Berkoff also appears as himself in the "Science" episode of the British current affairs satire Brass Eye (1997), warning against the dangers of the fictional environmental disaster "Heavy Electricity".
Other work 
Berkoff voices the character General Lente, commander of the Helghan Third Army, in the first game of the PlayStation based Killzone series.
Berkoff speaks the voiceover in "The Mind of the Machine" single by the UK dance-music band N-Trance which reached No. 15 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1997. He also appeared in the opening sequence to Sky Sports' coverage of the 2007 Heineken Cup Final, modelled on a speech by Al Pacino in the 1999 film Any Given Sunday.
He appears in the British Heart Foundation's two-minute public service advertisement, Watch Your Own Heart Attack, broadcast on ITV, on 10 August 2008. In 2010, he also presented the BBC Horizon episode, "Infinity and Beyond".
Awards, nominations and other honours 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2008)|
In 1991, Berkoff's play Kvetch won the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Best Comedy. In 1997, Berkoff won the first Total Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, the 25th anniversary revival of East, which he directed, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for that year. In 1998 he was nominated for a Society Of London Theatre Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment for his one-man show Shakespeare's Villains and in 2000, he won the LA Weekly Theater Award for Solo Performance for the same show. Also in 2000, his play Messiah, Scenes from a Crucifixion won a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2001, his play The Secret Love Life of Ophelia received a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel.
Attending the Alton College ceremony honouring him, he stated:
|“||I remember in my younger days questioning what life means. Finding a place like the Berkoff Performing Arts Centre, I found myself as a person. Having a place like this sowed the seeds of the man I think I am today. A place like this is the first step in changing the life of a person. There's something about theatre that draws people together because it's something connected with the human soul. All over the UK, the performing arts links people with a shared humanity as a way to open the doors to the mysteries of life. We should never underestimate the power of the theatre. It educates, informs, enlightens and humanises us all.||”|
He taught a drama master-class later that day and performed his one-man show Shakespeare's Villains for an invited audience of 100 that evening.
Critical assessment 
According to Annette Pankratz, in her 2005 Modern Drama review of Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance by Robert Cross:
|“||Steven Berkoff is one of the major minor contemporary dramatists in Britain and – due to his self-fashioning as a bad boy of British theatre and the ensuing attention of the media – a phenomenon in his own right.||”|
Pankratz further asserts that Cross:
|“||focuses on Berkoff's theatre of self-performance, that is, the intersections between Berkoff, the public phenomenon and Berkoff, the artist.||”|
Allusions in popular culture 
In the 1989 romantic comedy The Tall Guy, struggling actor Dexter King (Jeff Goldblum) auditions unsuccessfully for an imaginary 'Berkoff play' called England, My England. In the audition, characters dressed as skinheads swear repetitively at each other and a folding table is kicked over. Afterwards, Dexter's agent Mary (Anna Massey) muses: "I think he's probably mad..."
"I'm scared of Steven Berkoff" is a line in the lyrics of "I'm Scared" by Queen's guitarist Brian May, on his 1993 first solo album Back to the Light. Brian May has declared himself to be great admirer of Berkoff and his wife, Anita Dobson, has appeared in several of Berkoffs plays.
Legal controversy 
In 1996, Berkoff prevailed as the plaintiff in Berkoff v. Burchill, a libel civil action which he brought against Sunday Times journalist Julie Burchill, after she published comments suggesting that he was "hideously ugly"; the judge ruled for Berkoff, finding that Burchill's actions "held him to ridicule and contempt."
Personal life 
Berkoff has spoken and written about how he believes Jews and Israel are perceived and treated in Britain. In a January 2009 interview with The Jewish Chronicle, discussing anti-Israel sentiment following the Gaza War, he said, "There is an inbuilt dislike of Jews. Overt antisemitism goes against the British sense of fair play. It has to be covert and civilised. So certain playwrights and actors on the left wing make themselves out to be stricken with conscience. They say: 'We hate Israel, we hate Zionism, we don't hate Jews.' But Zionism is the very essence of what a Jew is. Zionism is the act of seeking sanctuary after years and years of unspeakable outrages against Jews. As soon as Israel does anything over the top it's always the same old faces who come out to demonstrate. I don't see hordes of people marching down the street against Mugabe when tens of thousands are dying every month in Zimbabwe." Interviewer Simon Round found Berkoff keen to add that right-wing Israeli politicians, like Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, were "wretched". Asked if British antisemitism manifested itself in the theatrical establishment, Berkoff responded: "They quite like diversity and will tolerate you as long as you act a bit gentile and don’t throw your chicken soup around too much. You are perfectly entitled occasionally even to touch the great prophet of British culture, Shakespeare, as long as you keep your Jewishness well zipped up." Berkoff also referred to the Gaza war as a factor in writing Biblical Tales: "It was the recent 'Gaza' war and the appalling flack that Israel received that prompted me to investigate ancient Jewish values."
Speaking to The Jewish Chronicle (10 May 2010) Berkoff expressed blunt and severely critical views of the Bible, but said he believed "it inspires the Jews to produce Samsons and heroes and to have pride". Berkoff went on to say of the Talmud in the same article, that "as Jews, we are so incredibly lucky to have the Talmud, to have a way of reinterpreting the Torah. So we no longer cut off hands, and slay animals, and stone women."
In a Telegraph travel article he wrote on a two-day visit Israel in 2007, Berkoff described Melanie Phillips' book Londonistan, as "quite overwhelming in its research and common sense. It grips me throughout the journey."
- "Steven Berkoff". Contemporary Writers. British Council. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- "Steven Berkoff". filmreference.com. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- "Steven Berkoff". movies.yahoo.com (Yahoo! Inc.). Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- Sorrel Kerbel (2003). Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century. Routledge. pp. 155–156. ISBN 1-57958-313-X.
- Alan Levy (24 July 2002). "Steven Berkoff: Caught in a web". The Prague Post. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
- "Famous Personalities from Raine's Foundation School: Steven Berkoff (1948–1950)" (Press release). David A. Spencer (publicity officer), The Old Raineians' Association. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Michael Coveney (4 January 2007). "Steven Berkoff: The Real East Enders". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 27 September 2008. "In his latest play and in an exhibition of photographs, Steven Berkoff revisits his past in the vibrant melting-pot that was riverside London."
- "Steven Berkoff". Celebrities. hollywood.com. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- Peter Purves' autobiography "Here's one I wrote earlier...", hardback edition, Green Umbrella Publishing, page 70. ISBN 978-1-906635-34-3.
- Steven Berkoff, "Free Association: An Autobiography", Faber and Faber, 1 July 1996, p.373. ISBN 978-0571176083
- Aleks Sierz (2001). In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0-571-20049-8.
- "Steven Berkoff directing". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "South Bank 1988-1996 - Stage by Stage - National Theatre". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Past productions 1986-1990 - Past Events - National Theatre". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Society Of London Theatre
- "Evil roles are 'flattering'". BBC News. 1 August 2010.
- "Steven Berkoff's new play". Tenterden Forum. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- Steven Berkoff Early Films
- TardisTime News
- Fiona Ramsay (4 August 2008). "ITV to Air British Heart Foundation's Two-minute 'heart attack' Ad". Media Week. BrandRepublic.com (Haymarket Group). Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "Nightingale Theatre: Patron Steven Berkoff". nightingaletheatre.co.uk/. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- Total Theatre Award Past Winners. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- Steven Leigh Morris, "The 21st Annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards", L.A. Weekly, 12 April 2000. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Berkoff's Messiah Tour Gets the Green Light", whatsonstage.com, 27 August 2001. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "2001 recipients | The Bank of Scotland Herald Angels". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- Annette Pankratz (2005). "Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance, by Robert Cross". Modern Drama 48 (2005): 459. doi:10.1353/mdr.2005.0035.
- "Back to the Light". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
- Mark Lunney and Ken Oliphant (2007). Tort Law: Text and Materials (3rd ed.). London and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 704. ISBN 978-0-19-921136-4.
- Simon Round, "Interview: Steven Berkoff", The Jewish Chronicle, 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Steven Berkoff, "Press release for Biblical Tales", New End Theatre. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Jessica Elgot, "The Bible, rewritten by Steven Berkoff", The Jewish Chronicle, 21 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Steven Berkoff, "A tale of Tel Aviv", Telegraph, 10 Jun 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Arnold Wesker, Ronald Harwood, Maureen Lipman, Simon Callow, Louise Mensch MP, Steven Berkoff, "Letters: We welcome Israel's national theatre", The Guardian, 10 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Billington, Michael. "Happy Birthday, Steven Berkoff". The Guardian Theatre Blog. 3 August 2007. ("The hard man with a sensitive soul is 70 today. I've always admired him as an actor, director and – above all – phenomenon.")
- Cross, Robert. Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7190-6254-3 (10). ISBN 978-0-7190-6254-4 (13). (Rev. by Pankratz.) (Synopis at Google Books, with hyperlinked table of contents and limited preview.)
- Pankratz, Annette. Rev. of Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance. Modern Drama 48 (2005): 459–61. (Extract; Project Muse subscription required for online access to full text.)
- Sierz, Aleks. In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today. London: Faber and Faber, 2001. ISBN 0-571-20049-4 (10). ISBN 978-0-571-20049-8 (13).
- "Steven Berkoff". Contemporary Writers. British Council. Retrieved 30 Sep 2008.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Steven Berkoff|
- Official website
- Steven Berkoff at the Internet Movie Database
- Steven Berkoff in The Playwrights Database at Doolee.com, with helpful description about many of Berkoff's plays, and details of unperformed plays.
- Steven Berkoff at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Comprehensive Steven Berkoff website by Iain Fisher