Bruce Payne

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Bruce Payne
Born Bruce Martyn Payne
1958 (age 57–58)
Addlestone, Woking, Surrey, England
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1982–present

Bruce Martyn Payne (born 1958)[1][2] is an English actor and producer. He was a member of the 1980s Brit Pack. Although he is best known for his villainous roles,[3] Payne has played characters across the spectrum. His notable villainous roles include Charles Rane in Passenger 57, Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame, and Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons and Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God. Payne notes of his acting approach, "[i]f I'm allowed to in terms of time, I really like to get into the character."[4]

Early life[edit]

Payne was born in Woking, Surrey, and grew up in New Haw, Surrey. He developed an interest for acting at an early age. In an interview with Impact magazine in 2001, Payne revealed that "I know that my immediate family tell me that when I was very young I saw a play that my brother was in – probably a Peter Pan pantomime because it involved a crocodile – and I apparently shouted out 'That crocodile is going to eat my brother' and ran up on the stage. I don't remember that myself, but if it really happened, I think it shows that from an early age I loved that suspension of disbelief".[5] At the age of 14 he was diagnosed with a slight form of Spina Bifida[6] which by age 16 required surgery to rectify. Payne was hospitalised for 6 months following the operation.

Payne continued school studies, despite a contact with a talent scout during that time. After his graduation, he enrolled in the National Youth Theatre for two seasons. Payne has described this experience as "Four hundred kids thrown together to work on 7 plays."[7] In addition, Payne was occupied with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for one season. He then auditioned for several fringe acting companies but was told he was too young and lacked experience. However, in 1979 he was admitted to the "prestigious"[8] Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) acting program. Before being accepted at RADA, Payne worked as a joiner, a salesman and a landscape gardener. Payne graduated from RADA in 1981 with seven major prizes for acting, comedy (Payne won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy) and physical presence. Payne was part of a 'new wave' of actors to emerge from the Academy. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Kenneth Branagh and Fiona Shaw. Whilst at RADA, Payne wrote and directed himself in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth in which he wielded a baseball bat on stage instead of a sword. This was chosen by the Principal of RADA to be performed in front of Queen Elizabeth II, in one of her rare visits to the academy. Payne would later appear on stage in both Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Payne also played Karsten Bernick in the Henrik Ibsen play The Pillars of Society while at RADA, a production in which Paul McGann also appeared.

Acting career[edit]


Payne's first television role was in the Tales Out of School series. Payne played a PE teacher who 'comes across as more head bully than responsible adult during his classes'.[9] Payne's first major film role came in Privates on Parade (1982) in which he played the singing and dancing Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright (the role which Ben Cross had played in the stage version).[10]

In 1983 he appeared in Michael Mann's horror film The Keep, as an unnamed border guard.[11] In the same year Steven Berkoff cast him in his production of West at the Donmar Warehouse. Payne played Les, a member of an East End London gang intent on gaining revenge against the rival Hoxton Mob for the slaying of one of their number. Richard Corliss of TIME magazine stated that Payne bestowed "a frighteningly dynamic performance" in the play.[12]

In 1986 both Payne and Berkoff appeared in Julien Temple's musical Absolute Beginners . Payne played a psychotic[13] "pompous and pathetic racist"[14] named Flikker who participates in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. One reviewer argued that Payne was "the only actor to walk off Absolute Beginners with his reputation not only intact but enhanced" and that his portrayal of Flikker "was a headbutt of reality in a fantasmagoria of overkill."[15] One critic stated that Payne gave a "meaty, saving-grace performance" in the film.[14] The film journalist and editor, Ann Lloyd, selected Payne as the most promising newcomer of 1987 for his role in the film.[16] In the same year Payne appeared in the Mel Brooks film Solarbabies, along with fellow British performer Alexei Sayle, as filthy bounty hunters named Dogger and Malice. Payne said of his and Sayle's performances in Vogue that "the old image of an English arch-villain – Boris Karloff, that sort of thing" is turned "upside down. We're just a couple of soaks".[17]

In 1989 he was cast in For Queen and Country as a 'drug kingpin'[18] named Colin.[19] Payne and other young British actors who were becoming established film actors such as Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Paul McGann were dubbed the 'Brit Pack'.[15] Payne's performances endeared him to Warner Brothers who considered "Bruce Payne as Bruce Wayne" on their "one liner" press marketing PR campaign for the first of Tim Burton's Batman films. Ultimately Michael Keaton acquired the role. Payne has commented that "Warner were fascinated by the similarity" between his name and that of Bruce Wayne. Payne has said that "they drew up a very short shortlist and there I was on it. Obviously, I lost out in the end to Michael Keaton".[20] In the same year Payne appeared as Doctor Burton in the dramatic film Zwei Frauen [21] The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards.


In 1991 Payne was cast as the Devil in Switch. Payne was described as a "delightfully wicked Satan" by Film Review.[22] The Providence Journal described him as a "slick devil".[23]

In 1992 Payne was cast in his best known role, opposite Wesley Snipes, as a "real dyed in the wool villain",[24] a "notorious terrorist and hijacker",[25] with a steely, demonic nerve,[26] named Charles Rane, in Passenger 57. Writing about the film, the reviewer Marcus Trower, of Empire magazine, stated that Payne was "a brilliantly disconcerting madman. With his flowing blond Jesus locks, armour-piercing stare and casual sadism, he makes Hannibal Lecter look like a social worker – and like Anthony Hopkins' serial killer, part of the man's menace is in the apparent contradiction between his articulate, well-spoken English and his off-hand brutality."[27] The Radio Times stated that Payne and Snipes both gave "charismatic turns" in the film.[28] The New York Times stated that Payne brought a 'tongue-in-cheek humour to the psychopathic fiend'.[29] A reviewer for People magazine stated that "Bruce Payne steals the plane—and the movie".[30] In an article for the Waterloo Region Record, Jamie Portman described Payne as a "suave and cultivated English actor" playing "a suave and cultivated killer named Charles Rane" and suggested that a "key reason director Kevin Hooks chose him for the role was that he wanted a villain with as much magnetism as the hero".[31] Payne was described as "icily perfect as the villainous Rane" in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.[32] Julius Marshall stated that Payne was "ideal for his role: charming, dangerous – the kind of evil genius you love to hate".[33] The Star Tribune stated that 'Bruce Payne makes a splendid psychopath, consistently stealing scenes from the likes of Wesley Snipes and Elizabeth Hurley throughout Passenger 57'.[34]


Payne portrayed the villain Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame (2000), the third sequel to the original Highlander film. One reviewer said of Highlander: Endgame that "the one in the cast that seems to be having the most fun is Bruce Payne. Traditionally Highlander villains give performances that go completely over-the-top and well into the stratosphere. Payne contrarily gives a performance where he enunciates every syllable with relish and dramatic weight, resulting in a performance that is entirely captivating whenever he is on screen."[35] Andrew O'Hehir, who reviewed the film for, stated that "playing Kell as a cockney thug with triple crucifixes embedded in the heels of his Doc Martens, Payne is more fun than either of the stars".[36] A reviewer for Trash City stated that "Endgame is pretty good, largely thanks to Bruce Payne's efforts as the bad guy, who is right up there with Clancy Brown's original decapitator", the Kurgan.[37] Marke Andrews, writing for The Vancouver Sun, stated that Payne provided the "focal point" in the film and that he dived "into his role with gusto". Andrews also stated that Payne's 'facial expressions rival Jim Carrey's in The Mask'.[38] Cherriece Wright, who reviewed the film for The Dispatch, stated that it contained "brilliant performances by Christopher Lambert and Bruce Payne". Wright stated that Payne "delivers a great performance as Jacob Kell blending smoothly the malicious vindictiveness of the embittered immortal with a sarcastic wit that provides needed humor".[39]

In the same year Payne played Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons, henchman of the malevolent Profion (played by Jeremy Irons). Although the film was critically panned, Payne's performance was reviewed favourably. One reviewer said that "Bruce Payne (Damodar) as Profion's nefarious assistant in his power hungry schemes was the stand-out performance of all the actors in the film. Payne has a true lock on how to play a character that is menacing even without any show of power. His portrayal of Damodar calls to mind Doug Bradley's portrayal of Pinhead in the Hellraiser films, so coldly, coolly arrogant and confident is his character. Above and beyond the grade I give to this film, Payne has earned himself an A+ in my gradebook."[40] Another reviewer stated that Payne's performance proved that he is "one of Hollywood's more reliable villains".[41] Branden Chowen, who reviewed the film for Indie Pulse, stated that "the standout in the film is the man who returns for the sequel: Bruce Payne. His character is written to be one-note throughout, but Payne still manages to create an excellent villain. Once the audience gets past his blue lipstick, which is no small feat, Payne is a formidable and passionate force".[42] The Charlotte Observer stated that "menacing Bruce Payne gives the film's one potent performance".[43] Abbie Bernstein, who reviewed the film for Audio Video Revolution stated that Payne was "enjoyably evil as the secondary baddie in charge of capturing the rebels"[44]

In 2005, Payne returned to the role of Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. Payne was the only member of the original cast in the sequel[45] which was reviewed more favourably than the original.[citation needed] In 2006, Payne helped to launch the National Youth Theatre's 50th anniversary programme along with Sir Ian McKellen, Timothy Spall, Diana Quick, Paula Wilcox, Jonathan Wrather, newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Little Britain's Matt Lucas and David Walliams.[46]


In 2011, Payne appeared in the horror film Prowl. Payne played a "blatantly untrustworthy"[47] "hillbilly truck driver"[48] named Bernard in the film. Matt Withers, who reviewed the film for stated that "Bruce Payne shows up as a trucker in a throwaway role that he makes anything but".[49] Payne also appeared in Carmen's Kiss (an adaptation of the Georges Bizet opera Carmen).

In 2012 Payne voiced a demon in the found footage horror film Greystone Park (also known as The Asylum Tapes).

In 2013, Payne appeared in the Warner Bros. action film Getaway.[50] Payne also appeared in the action film Vendetta as a sinister Whitehall Mandarin named Mr. Rooker.[51] One reviewer of the film gave it eight out of ten and stated that Payne 'nearly steals the movie with a plum role as the icy head of British black ops'.[52] In addition, Payne portrayed Nazi Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess in the French film Victor Young Perez, which concerns the life of the Tunisian Jew flyweight boxer Victor Perez.

Payne has appeared in two horror films (Re-Kill and Asylum) produced by After Dark Films, which are yet to be released.[53] Payne plays Winston in Re-Kill and stars as Lieutenant Sharp in Asylum.[54] In addition, Payne has been cast as Carlos, a crime boss,[55] in Falconman.

Personal life[edit]

In November 2005, Payne was arrested at Heathrow Airport after disembarking a flight from Los Angeles and was later cautioned for using "threatening behaviour".[1] Payne's lawyer stated that Payne had simply argued with another passenger who refused to stop using their mobile phone after being asked to do so by flight crew.[56]





  • Lowball (1997) (executive producer)

TV appearances[edit]




  • Greek (1993)
  • Macbeth (1982)


  1. ^ a b "Flight arrest actor is cautioned". BBC. 16 December 2005. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Usher, William (1 July 2009). "iMEvil Featuring Halo Wars, COD4 Voice Talent Is Coming Soon". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Pleasure and Payne" in Impact magazine, April 2001
  5. ^ "Pleasure and Payne – Impact 2001". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Cherreson, Adele. "Payne Threshold". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Herndon, Cory J (1 January 2001). "Truth or Damodar". Dragon. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Magill, Frank (1993). Magill's Cinema Annual: 1993. Cengage Learning. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Nield, Anthony. "Tales Out of School Blu Ray Review". The Digital Fix. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Ladies Or Gentlemen: A Pictorial ... Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Hogg, Trevor. "A Michael Mann Retrospective". Flickering Myth. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  12. ^ Corliss, Richard (20 June 1983). "Theater: Looking for the Real Thing". TIME. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  13. ^ The New Yorker, Volume 62, Issues 7–16. The New Yorker. 1986. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Hind, John. "The Smart Money is on Bruce Payne". The Face. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Van Poznack, Elissa (1 January 1987). "The Brit Pack". The Face Magazine. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Films and Filming Issues 388–399. Hansom Books. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  17. ^ Irvine, Susan (March 1987). "PAYNE speaking". Vogue. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  18. ^ For Queen and Country. The Film Journal. 92, Issues 1–6 (Pubsun Corp). 1989. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger (1989). "FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY". Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "Bruce Payne Interview Sunday Magazine". Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  21. ^ Pollack, Joe (31 August 1990). "Cliches Mar Woman's Tale Of Triumph Over Cancer SILENCE LIKE GLASS". St Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Brett, Anwar (June 1993). "Plane Payne". Film Review. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  23. ^ Janusonis, Michael (10 May 1991). "Comedy that hits below the belt Blake Edwards goes for bawdy laughs in breezy sex farce". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Jones, Glyn Idris (2008). No Official Umbrella. Douglas Foote. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Lichtenfeld, Eric (2007). Action speaks louder: violence, spectacle, and the American action movie. Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  26. ^ Rea, Steven (1992). "Action movie takes to skies with routine plot". The Vindicator. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
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  28. ^ Ferguson, John. "Passenger 57 film review". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  29. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 November 1992). "Review/Film; Like a Roller Coaster, All Inside an Airplane". The New York Times. 
  30. ^ "A Terrorist to Die for". People. 7 December 1992. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  31. ^ Portman, Jamie (5 November 1992). "Entertainment". Waterloo Region Record. 
  32. ^ "Passenger 57 is a New Twist on an Old Theme". Telegram & Gazette. 6 November 1992. 
  33. ^ Marshall, Julius (1996). Action!: the action movie A-Z. Batsford. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  34. ^ "Critics' Choice". Star Tribune. 6 February 1998. 
  35. ^ Scheib, Richard. "HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME". Moria. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  36. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (1 September 2000). "Highlander: Endgame". Salon. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  37. ^ "Trash City review: Highlander – Endgame". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  38. ^ Andrews, Marke. "Highlander: Endgame Vancouver Province Review". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  39. ^ Wright, Cherriece (7 September 2000). "Highlander: Endgame offers an OK outing". The Dispatch. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  40. ^ Dungeons and Dragons. Prof J's Movie Reviews
  41. ^ Shea, John. "TNMC Movies: Reviews: Dungeons & Dragons". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  42. ^ Chowen, Branden. "Dungeons & Dragons 2-Movie Collection – Blu-ray Review". Inside Pulse. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  43. ^ "DUNGEONS' BAFFLES WITH ITS MANY-FACETED POINTLESSNESS". The Charlotte Observer. 8 December 2000. 
  44. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (22 May 2001). "Dungeons & Dragons". Audio Video Revolution. 
  45. ^ "Dungeons and Dragons 2 – Wrath of the Dragon God". DVDTalk. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  46. ^ "Photos: NYT Celebrates 50 Years of Star Support – – Photos". 11 October 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  47. ^ Weinberg, Scott (1 February 2011). "After Dark Originals 'Prowl' Movie Review". FEARnet. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  48. ^ Coleman, Jason (12 April 2011). "DVD Review: After Dark 'Husk' & 'Prowl'". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  49. ^ Withers, Matt. "The DVD Pub reviews Prowl". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  50. ^ Kirby, Iona (26 May 2012). "Absence makes the heart grow fonder! Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber have a passionate reunion at the airport". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Vendetta". Britpic. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  53. ^ Lionsgate and After Dark Open an Asylum on DVD
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Payne Cautioned For 'Air Rage'". Retrieved 29 August 2011. 

External links[edit]