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] is an English actor and producer. Payne trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and was identified, in the late 1980s, with the "Brit Pack" of rising, young British actors. Payne is best known for portraying villains,[2] such as Charles Rane in Passenger 57, Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame, and Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons and Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God.

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".[3] At the age of 14 he was diagnosed with a slight form of Spina Bifida[4] 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."[5] 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"[6] 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, Hugh Cruttwell, 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.

Acting career[edit]

1980s[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'.[7] Payne's first major film role came in Privates on Parade in which he played the singing and dancing Flight sergeant Kevin Cartwright (the role which Ben Cross had played in the stage version).[8]

In 1983 he appeared in Michael Mann's horror film The Keep, as an unnamed border guard.[9] 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.[10]

In 1985 Payne was cast as a "committed",[11] "butch snooker manager"[12] known as 'The One' (also known as T.O.) in director Alan Clarke's snooker musical Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire. Michael Brooke stated that Payne gave the "stand out performance" in the film.[13] and MS London stated that Payne 'is a charismatic presence, with a capable voice, who is perfectly cast as The One'.[14]

In 1986 both Payne and Berkoff appeared in Julien Temple's musical Absolute Beginners . Payne played a psychotic[15] "pompous and pathetic racist"[12] 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."[16] One critic stated that Payne gave a "meaty, saving-grace performance" in the film.[12] The film journalist and editor, Ann Lloyd, selected Payne as the most promising newcomer of 1987 for his role in the film.[17] 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".[18]

In 1988 Payne appeared as Eddy in the Steven Berkoff directed play, Greek (a retelling of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex), at the Wyndham's Theatre. Martin Hoyle, writing for The Independent, stated that Payne's "Eddy is vital, intelligent and physically disciplined in the best Berkoff style".[19] Charles Osbourne, writing for The Daily Telegraph, stated that Payne brought "a cheerful zest to the role of Eddy".[20] A reviewer for The Listener stated that Payne "impresses throughout" the play.[21] Another reviewer stated that "Payne gives a powerful performance as Eddy, the crusader out to defeat the horror of society" only "to find that he is part of the horror".[22]

In 1989 Payne was cast in For Queen and Country as a 'drug kingpin'[23] named Colin.[24] 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'.[16] 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".[25] In the same year Payne appeared as Doctor Burton in the dramatic film Zwei Frauen [26] The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards.

1990s[edit]

In 1991 Payne was cast as the Devil in Switch. Payne was described as a "delightfully wicked Satan" by Film Review.[27] The Providence Journal described him as a "slick devil".[28]

In 1992 Payne was cast in his best known role, opposite Wesley Snipes, as a "notorious terrorist and hijacker",[29] with a steely, demonic nerve,[30] named Charles Rane, in Passenger 57. 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."[31] The Radio Times stated that Payne and Snipes both gave "charismatic turns" in the film.[32] The New York Times stated that Payne brought a 'tongue-in-cheek humour to the psychopathic fiend'.[33] A reviewer for People magazine stated that "Bruce Payne steals the plane—and the movie".[34] 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".[35] Payne was described as "icily perfect as the villainous Rane" in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.[36] Julius Marshall stated that Payne was "ideal for his role: charming, dangerous – the kind of evil genius you love to hate".[37] 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'.[38]

In 1993, Payne played a "charismatic"[39] werewolf named Adam Garou in Full Eclipse. Joseph Savitski, who reviewed the film for Beyond Hollywood, stated that "Payne is masterful as Detective Garou, a seductive and evil villain with arrogance and confidence to spare. When he's on-screen, Payne demands the attention of the audience, and you're hard pressed to resist his performance. Payne is also the perfect adversary, the kind you're supposed to hate, but who has the charisma to draw you in nonetheless".[40]

In 1995 Payne played a "rogue FBI agent"[41] named Karl Savak in director Kurt Wimmer's One Tough Bastard. One reviewer described Savak as one of the most 'entertaining movie villains in low budget action flick history' and noted that 'so awesome is Karl Savak that some lunatic has created a Facebook page in his honor'.[42] Another reviewer stated that 'Bruce Payne, with his Whitesnake hair and nose ring is slimeball perfection as the villain'.[43]

2000s[edit]

In 2000 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."[44] Andrew O'Hehir, who reviewed the film for Salon.com, 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".[45] 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.[46] 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'.[47] 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".[48]

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."[49] Another reviewer stated that Payne's performance proved that he is "one of Hollywood's more reliable villains".[50] 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".[51] The Charlotte Observer stated that "menacing Bruce Payne gives the film's one potent performance".[52] 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"[53]

In 2004 Payne appeared as the "snarling"[54] Neighbour, who "dabbles"[55] in producing kinky virtual games[56] in the dystopian horror mystery[57] Paranoia 1.0. The film was nominated in the best film category at the Catalonian International Film Festival and at the Sundance Film Festival and won the best film award at the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema. John Fallon stated that as the Neighbour, Payne "laid on the charisma and the macho-ness thick".[58]

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[59] 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.[60]

2010s[edit]

In 2011, Payne appeared in the horror film Prowl. as a "blatantly untrustworthy"[61] "hillbilly truck driver"[62] named Bernard in the film. Matt Withers, who reviewed the film for JoBlo.com stated that "Bruce Payne shows up as a trucker in a throwaway role that he makes anything but".[63] 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.[64] Payne also appeared in the action film Vendetta as a sinister Whitehall Mandarin named Mr. Rooker.[65] 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'.[66] In addition, Payne portrayed Nazi Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, in a 'superciliously evil' manner,[67] in the French film Victor Young Perez, which concerns the life of the Tunisian Jew flyweight boxer Victor Perez.

In 2015 Payne played Winston, a religious fanatic,[68] in the horror film Re-Kill.

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.[69]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

As Actor

Year Title Role Director Notes
1982 Privates on Parade Flight sergeant Kevin Cartwright Michael Blakemore Based on the Peter Nichols play Privates on Parade
1983 The Keep Border Guard #2 Michael Mann Based on F. Paul Wilson's 1981 novel The Keep
1984 Oxford Blues Peter Howles Robert Boris A remake of the 1938 film A Yank at Oxford
1985 Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire T.O. (The One) Alan Clarke
1986 Absolute Beginners Flikker Julien Temple Based on Colin MacInnes 1959 novel Absolute Beginners
Smart Money Lawrance MacNiece Bernard Rose
Solarbabies Dogger Alan Johnson
1988 The Fruit Machine aka Wonderland Echo Philip Saville
Caprice Vendor Joanna Hogg
1989 For Queen and Country Colin Martin Stellman
Zwei Frauen aka Silence Like Glass Doctor Burton Carl Schenkel
1991 Pyrates Liam Noah Stern
Howling VI: The Freaks R.B Harker Hope Perello Loosely based on The Howling novels by Gary Brandner
Switch The Devil Blake Edwards Based on George Axelrod's play Goodbye Charlie
1992 Passenger 57 Charles Rane Kevin Hooks
1993 Full Eclipse Adam Garou Anthony Hickox
1994 The Cisco Kid General Martin Dupre Luis Valdez Based on the character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story The Caballero's Way
Necronomicon Edward De Lapoer Christophe Gans Part 1 The Drowned. Loosely based on H. P. Lovecraft's short story The Rats in the Walls
1995 One Tough Bastard aka One Man's Justice Karl Savak Kurt Wimmer
Aurora: Operation Intercept Gordon Pruett Paul Levine
1996 Kounterfeit Frankie John Mallory Asher
1997 No Contest II aka Face the Evil Jack Terry Paul Lynch
Ravager Cooper Wayne James D. Deck
1999 Sweepers Doctor Cecil Hopper Keoni Waxman
Warlock III: The End of Innocence The Warlock / Phillip Covington Eric Freiser
2000 Highlander: Endgame Jacob Kell Doug Aarniokoski Based on characters created by Gregory Widen
Dungeons & Dragons Damodar Courtney Solomon Based on the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game
2001 Never Say Never Mind: The Swedish Bikini Team Mr. Blue Frederick Feitshans IV A spoof of the James Bond films
Ripper Marshall Kane John Eyres
2002 Steal (aka Riders) Lieutenant Macgruder Gerard Pires
2003 Newton's Law Dad Pete Antico Short Film
Hellborn (a.k.a. Asylum of the Damned) Dr. McCort Philip J. Jones
2004 Paranoia 1.0 (a.k.a. One Point O) The Neighbour Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson
2005 Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God Damodar Gerry Lively Based on the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game
2007 Messages Doctor Robert Golding David Fairman
2008 Brothel Thief/Death Amy Waddell
2010 Dance Star Harry Steven M. Smith Short Film
2011 Prowl Bernard Patrik Syversen
Carmen's Kiss Michael David Fairman An adaptation of the Georges Bizet opera Carmen
2012 Greystone Park (a.k.a. The Asylum Tapes) Demon Sean Stone Voice role
2013 Getaway Distinguished Man Courtney Solomon
Vendetta Mr Rooker Stephen Reynolds
Victor Young Perez Rudolf Hess Jacques Ouaniche
2014 Tales of the Supernatural Father Doyle Steven M. Smith
Final Command Kane Ross Peacock Short Film
Asylum Lieutenant Sharp Todor Chapkanov
2015 Age of Kill Prime Minister James Newmont Neil Jones
Re-Kill Winston Valeri Milev
The Antwerp Dolls Ray Ferrino Jake Reid
Ripper Jack the Ripper James Campbell Short Film
2016 Breakdown Peter Grainger Jonnie Malachi
Shopping Nick Layke Anderson Short Film
In the Morning James Tom Kinnersly Short Film
Creators: The Past Lord Kal Piergiuseppe Zaia Post Production
The Rizen Admin Matt Mitchell and Taliesyn Mitchell Post Production
Disorientated Michele Brian Skeet Filming
Falconman Carlos Anthony Hickox Pre-Production
Natas Corp Fredrik Hiller Pre-Production
2017 The Voice of Silence Pre-Production
Michael Frank Warren Sean Cronin Pre-Production

As Producer

Year Title
1997 Lowball
2016 Creators: The Past

TV appearances[edit]

As Actor

Year Title Role Notes
1982 Tales Out of School Barratt Episode: Birth of a Nation
1983 Keep it in the Family Policeman Episode: A Moving Affair
1984 West Les TV Movie. An adaptation of Steven Berkoff's play.
The Bill Adam March Episode: Clutching at Straws
Diana Sergeant Grice Episode 7
The Brief Sergeant Davis RMP Episode: People
1985 Operation Julie DC Malcolm Pollard TV Movie. Based on Dick Lee and Chris Pratt's non-fiction book Operation Julie: How the Undercover Police Team Smashed the World's Greatest Drugs Ring.
Oscar Warder Martin Episode: De Profundis
1987 Lost Belongings Simon Hunt Episodes: The American Friend and Lenny Leaps In
The Bell-Run Pace TV Movie
Miss Marple Michael Rafiel Episode: Nemesis. An adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1971 novel Nemesis.
1988 The Equalizer Greg Rivers Episode: Eighteen with a Bullet
1989 Storyboard Gerald Episode: Snakes and Ladders
1990 Yellowthread Street Nick Eden 7 Episodes. Series based on the Yellowthread Street novels by William Leonard Marshall.
Bergerac Jake Episode: The Messenger Boy
1995 Tales from the Crypt Sergeant Episode: Comes the Dawn
1998 La Femme Nikita Jurgen Episodes: Approaching Zero, Third Person and Spec Ops
1999 Cleopatra Cassius TV Movie. An adaptation of Margaret George's 1997 historical fiction novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra.
2000 Britannic Major Baker, MD TV Movie
Apocalypse Revelation (aka San Giovanni – L'apocalisse) Domitian TV Movie
2003 Dragnet Alex Karp Episode: All That Glitters
Keen Eddie Yellow Episode: Horse Heir
Spooks aka MI-5 Mickey Kaharias Episode : Smoke and Mirrors
2004 Charmed Leader of the Order Episode: Prince Charmed

Theatre[edit]

As Actor

Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Pillars of Society Karsten Bernick Directed by Glyn Idris Jones (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art); play by Henrik Ibsen
Macbeth Macbeth Directed by Bruce Payne (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art); play by William Shakespeare
1982 Julius Caesar Julius Caesar Shaw Theatre; play by William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream Cobweb Nottingham Play House; play by William Shakespeare
1983 PIAF Yves Montand York Theatre Royal; play by Pam Gems
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Frank-N-Furter Play by Richard O'Brien
West Les Directed by Steven Berkoff (Donmar Warehouse); play by Steven Berkoff
1984 Alice The Inventor Directed by Nicholas Hytner (Playhouse Theatre); a musical version of Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland
1988 Greek Eddy Directed by Steven Berkoff (Wyndhams Theatre); play by Steven Berkoff

As Director

Year Title
1982 Macbeth
1993 Greek

References[edit]

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External links[edit]