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David Thewlis

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David Thewlis
Thewlis in 2008
David Wheeler

(1963-03-20) 20 March 1963 (age 61)
Blackpool, England
EducationGuildhall School of Music and Drama (BA)
Occupation(s)Actor, filmmaker
Years active1985–present
  • (m. 1992; div. 1994)
  • Hermine Poitou
    (m. 2016)
Partner(s)Anna Friel

David Wheeler (born 20 March 1963), better known as David Thewlis (/ˈθjlɪs/), is an English actor and filmmaker. He is known as a character actor and has appeared in a wide variety of genres in both film and television. He has received the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor and nominations for two BAFTA Awards, Golden Globe Award, Primetime Emmy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Thewlis made his film debut in Little Dorrit (1987) and acted in the Mike Leigh films Life is Sweet (1990) and Naked (1993), winning the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for the latter. He then appeared in films such as Black Beauty (1994), Restoration (1995), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Dragonheart (1996), and Seven Years in Tibet (1997). He became more widely known to film audiences for his roles as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter franchise (2004–2011) and Ares / Sir Patrick Morgan in Wonder Woman (2017). Other film roles include Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), War Horse (2011), The Theory of Everything (2014), Anomalisa (2015), I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020), and Enola Holmes 2 (2022).

Thewlis's most notable television roles include V. M. Varga in the third season of FX's Fargo (2017), the voice of the Shame Wizard in the Netflix animated sitcoms Big Mouth (2017–present) and Human Resources (2022–2023), Christopher Edwards in the HBO miniseries Landscapers (2021), John Dee in the Netflix drama series The Sandman (2022), and Fagin in the Disney+ tv series The Artful Dodger (2023). His performance in Fargo earned him nominations for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a Critics' Choice Award.

Early life[edit]

Thewlis was born David Wheeler in Blackpool on 20 March 1963,[1] the son of Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler.[2][3] His parents ran a toy and wallpaper shop.[2][3] He has an older and a younger sibling. As a teenager, he played in a rock band called QED and played lead guitar with a punk rock band called Door 66.[4] He was educated at Highfield High School in Blackpool's Marton area. He later enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 1984.[5]



He changed his surname to Thewlis, his mother's maiden name, after attempting to register with the actors' union and discovering that his birth name was already being used by someone else. His first professional role after doing so was in the play Buddy Holly at the Regal in Greenwich[5] and in a commercial for Kellogg's Bran Flakes. In theatre, Thewlis has starred in Sam Mendes' The Sea at the Royal National Theatre, Max Stafford-Clark's Ice Cream at the Royal Court Theatre, The Ruffian on the Stairs/The Woolley at Farnham, and The Lady and the Clarinet at the King's Head Theatre.

He went on to play small roles in high-profile series such as BBC's Only Fools and Horses in 1985 and The Singing Detective in 1986, before being offered a more significant part in Alan Clarke's Road and in the ITV sitcom Valentine Park in 1987. That same year Thewlis made his film debut in Little Dorrit.

His first big-screen leading role was opposite Clive Owen in the little-seen Vroom directed by Beeban Kidron in 1988, and he then starred in Paul Greengrass's anti-Falklands drama Resurrected in 1989, playing a presumed-dead soldier who returns to Britain. He also collaborated with Mike Leigh on Life Is Sweet in 1990, in which he played Jane Horrocks' character's lover, licking chocolate sauce off her naked body. He continued playing low-key supporting roles in films such as Damage in 1992, directed by Louis Malle and The Trial in 1993 directed by David Hugh Jones.

Thewlis's breakout role was 1993's Naked, as the main character, Johnny, a homeless, highly intelligent, embittered, rambling street philosopher, for which Thewlis was established as one of the great actors of his generation and named Best Actor by the National Society of Film Critics (United States), the London Film Critics Circle, the Evening Standard, the New York Film Critics' Circle and the Cannes Film Festival. That same year, he appeared on television as a sexual predator named James Jackson in Prime Suspect 3, opposite Helen Mirren and Ciarán Hinds.

During the 1990s, Thewlis appeared in a variety of films, mostly fantasy and period, including Restoration (1995), Black Beauty (1994), Total Eclipse (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Dragonheart (1996), and Seven Years in Tibet (1997), opposite Brad Pitt. He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Divorcing Jack (1998), and played Clov in a television film of Samuel Beckett's Endgame (2000). Notable appearances also include Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged (1998), the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski (1998), and Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 (2000), opposite Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell.

He auditioned for the role of Quirinus Quirrell in the Chris Columbus directed film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but the part went to Ian Hart. Despite missing out on the first film, he was cast in 2004 as Professor Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He did not have to audition as he was director Alfonso Cuarón's first choice for the role.[6] Thewlis reprised the role in four other films in the series.

He appeared as an SS Commandant of a Nazi death camp and father of the main character in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was well received. Other credits include Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005), and The Omen (2006).

Thewlis played the late Dr Michael Aris, husband of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, with Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, in the biopic The Lady directed by Luc Besson. In 2012, he received an International Festival of Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera Award. In the same year, he also played in Separate We Come, Separate We Go, directed by Harry Potter co-star Bonnie Wright.

In June 2015, Thewlis was reported to be filming scenes for a Donald Crowhurst biopic, The Mercy, on the beach at Teignmouth, Devon, playing Donald Crowhurst's press agent, Rodney Hallworth, while Colin Firth would play Donald Crowhurst.[7] He also starred in Regression, a thriller released in autumn 2015. In September 2015, Thewlis starred as Inspector Goole in Helen Edmundson's BBC TV adaptation of J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls. In October 2015, he played King Duncan in the film Macbeth.

Thewlis portrayed Ares in Wonder Woman (2017), the DC Comics film featuring the character of the same name.[8][9] He briefly reprised his role as Ares in Justice League (2017). That same year, he appeared as V. M. Varga, the main antagonist of the third season of Fargo. His performance was critically acclaimed,[10][11][12] and earned him nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award, Critics' Choice Television Award and Golden Globe Award as a supporting actor.

He has voiced the Shame Wizard in the Netflix animated sitcom Big Mouth (2017–present) and its spin-off Human Resources (2022–2023).

Thewlis starred in the Netflix film I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020), the HBO miniseries Landscapers (2021), the Netflix drama series The Sandman (2022), the Netflix film Enola Holmes 2 (2022), and the animated film The Amazing Maurice (2022). In 2023, he played Fagin in The Artful Dodger.


Thewlis directed Hello, Hello, Hello in 1995, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. He also wrote, directed and starred in the feature Cheeky (2003).[13]


Thewlis's black comedy novel set in the art world, The Late Hector Kipling, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007.[14] His second book, Shooting Martha, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2021.[15]

Upcoming roles[edit]

Thewlis will appear in the film Littlemouth,[16] and has been cast as Peylak in the third, fourth and fifth installments in the Avatar film series.

He will also portray the Greek god Hades in the Netflix series Kaos, and star as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock & Daughter for The CW.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Thewlis was married to Welsh director and actress Sara Sugarman from 1992 until 1994. He then had a relationship with the English actress Kate Hardie for 3 years.

He was in a relationship with the English actress Anna Friel from 2001 until late 2010.[18][19] Their daughter, Gracie, was born on 9 July 2005.[20][21]

Thewlis married the French designer and artist Hermine Poitou on 5 August 2016.[22][23] They live in Sunningdale, Berkshire.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Short and Curlies Clive Short film
Little Dorrit George Braddle
1988 Vroom Ringe
1989 Resurrected Kevin Deakin
1991 Life Is Sweet Nicola's Lover
Afraid of the Dark Locksmith / Tom Miller
1992 Swords at Teatime Michael Short
Damage Detective
1993 The Trial Franz
Naked Johnny
1994 Black Beauty Jerry Barker
1995 Total Eclipse Paul Verlaine
Restoration Pearce
Hello, Hello, Hello - Short film
Writer, director
1996 James and the Giant Peach Earthworm Voice role
Dragonheart Einon
The Island of Dr. Moreau Douglas
1997 American Perfekt Santini
Seven Years in Tibet Peter Aufschnaiter
1998 The Big Lebowski Knox Harrington
Divorcing Jack Dan Starkey
Besieged Jason Kinsky
1999 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? Nesbit
Love Story Dealer Voice role, short
2000 The Miracle Maker Judas Iscariot Voice role
Gangster No. 1 Freddie Mays
2001 Goodbye Charlie Bright Dad
2002 D.I.Y. Hard Man Short
2003 Cheeky Harry Sankey Writer, director
Little Wolf's Book of Badness Mr. Twister Voice role, short
Timeline Robert Doniger
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Remus Lupin
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Hospitaler
All the Invisible Children Jonathan Segment: "Jonathan"
The New World Wingfield
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Roy Washburn
The Omen Keith Jennings
2007 The Inner Life of Martin Frost Martin Frost
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Remus Lupin
2008 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Father
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Remus Lupin
Veronika Decides to Die Dr. Blake
2010 Mr. Nice Jim McCann
London Boulevard Jordan
Athena Chuck Short
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Remus Lupin
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
The Lady Michael Aris
Anonymous William Cecil
War Horse Lyons
The Organ Grinder's Monkey Pablo Short
2012 Separate We Come, Separate We Go Norman Short film
2013 RED 2 The Frog
The Fifth Estate Nick Davies
The Zero Theorem Joby
2014 The Theory of Everything Dennis Sciama
Stonehearst Asylum Mickey Finn
Queen and Country Sargeant Major Bradley
Sunday Roast Dick Puck Short film
2015 Regression Kenneth Raines
Legend Leslie Payne
Macbeth Duncan
Anomalisa Michael Stone Voice role
2017 Wonder Woman Sir Patrick Morgan / Ares
Justice League Ares Cameo
2018 The Mercy Rodney Hallworth
2019 Rare Beasts Vic
Guest of Honour Jim
Eternal Beauty Mike
2020 I'm Thinking of Ending Things Father
2022 Enola Holmes 2 Grail
The Amazing Maurice Boss Man Voice role
2024 Littlemouth Post-production
2025 Avatar 3 Peylak Post-production
2029 Avatar 4 Filming
Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Up the Elephant and Round the Castle The Mugger Episode: "A Taxing Problem" (non-speaking)
Summer Season Jim Dench Episode: "Radio Pictures"
Only Fools and Horses Stew Episode: "It's Only Rock and Roll"
1986 The Singing Detective Second Soldier Miniseries
1987–1988 Valentine Park Max 12 episodes
1987–1991 ScreenPlay Joey / Terry 2 episodes
1989 A Bit of a Do Paul Simcock 6 episodes
Skulduggery Tony Television film
1990 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Doctor Miniseries
1991 Shrinks Terry Slater Episode #1.5
1991–1992 Screen One Crematorium Attendant / Tim Shanks 2 episodes
1993 Frank Stubbs Promotes Mike Bence Episode: "Striker"
Prime Suspect 3 James Jackson Episode: "Keeper of Souls: Parts 1 and 2"
1994 Dandelion Dead Oswald Martin Miniseries
2001 Endgame Clov Television film
Hammilton Mattress Hammilton Mattress Voice role, television film
2002 Dinotopia Cyrus Crabb Miniseries
2007 The Street Harry Jennerson / Joe Jennerson Episode: "Twins"
2014 Family Guy British Father Voice role, Episode: "Chap Stewie"
2015 An Inspector Calls The Inspector Television film
2017 Fargo V. M. Varga / Robot 10 episodes
2018–present Big Mouth Shame Wizard Voice role, 13 episodes
2019 The Feed Lawrence Hatfield 6 episodes
2020 Barkskins Monsieur Claude Trepagny 8 episodes
2021 Landscapers Christopher Edwards Miniseries
2022–2023 Human Resources Lionel St. Swithens / Shame Wizard Voice role, 14 episodes
2022 The Sandman John Dee Co-starring; 4 episodes
2023 The Artful Dodger Fagin Main role
2024 Kaos Hades Filming; Regular role
2025 Sherlock & Daughter Sherlock Holmes Lead role, filming

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2010 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Lord Darius Crowley

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1993 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Naked Won
Evening Standard British Film Award Best Actor Won
London Film Critics' Circle British Actor of the Year Won
National Society of Film Critics Best Actor Won
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Won
1995 BAFTA Award Best Short Film
(shared with Helen Booth and James Roberts)
Hello, Hello, Hello Nominated
1998 British Independent Film Award Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film Divorcing Jack Nominated
2006 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor Basic Instinct 2 / The Omen Nominated
2007 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actor – Drama Series The Street Nominated
2008 British Independent Film Award Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Film Won
2009 Scream Award Best Ensemble
(shared with the entire cast)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Won
2010 Evening Standard British Film Award Peter Sellers Award for Comedy London Boulevard Nominated
2011 Scream Award Best Ensemble
(shared with the entire cast)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated
2012 Gold Derby Film Awards Best Ensemble Cast
(shared with the entire cast)
2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Theory of Everything Nominated
2015 CinEuphoria Awards Best Supporting Actor - International Competition Queen and Country Nominated
2016 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction
(shared with Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Anomalisa Won
2017 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Fargo Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Gold Derby Television Awards Best TV Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actor Nominated
2019 Gold Derby TV Decade Award Best TV Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actor Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Best Actor in a Canadian Film Guest of Honour Nominated
2020 Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Supporting Actor I'm Thinking of Ending Things Nominated
2021 Chlotrudis Award Best Supporting Actor Nominated
2022 BAFTA Award Best Actor Landscapers Nominated


  1. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Thewlis, David (1963-) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Thewlis, David 1963–". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b "David Thewlis". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  4. ^ Moffitt, Dominic (14 March 2021). "Lancs Harry Potter star who started off as Only Fools and Horses extra". LancsLive. Reach plc. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  5. ^ a b Grice, Elizabeth (4 May 2005). "Anna has changed me for the better". London: The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  6. ^ Morris, Clint (9 June 2004). "Interview: David Thewlis". Movie Hole. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
  7. ^ "PICTURES: Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz on a Teignmouth film set". Archived from the original on 30 June 2015.
  8. ^ Mendelson, Scott. "Gal Gadot Releases First 'Wonder Woman' Image While Warner Bros. Announces The Cast". Forbes.
  9. ^ Osborn, Alex (19 February 2017). "Wonder Woman: Harry Potter Actor David Thewlis Reportedly Cast as Villain Ares". IGN.
  10. ^ Miller, Liz Shannon (26 May 2017). "'Fargo': David Thewlis on the Details and Delight of Playing a Bad Guy Who's 'Out and Out Foul'". Indiewire. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation.
  11. ^ Tallerica, Brian (21 June 2017). "Fargo Season-Finale Recap: The Great American Experiment". Vulture.com. New York City: New York Media.
  12. ^ Ryan, Maureen (13 April 2017). "TV Review: Fargo Season 3 on FX". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation.
  13. ^ Thewlis, David (2 August 2006), Cheeky (Comedy, Drama), EuropaCorp, Xingu Films, retrieved 11 May 2022
  14. ^ Thewlis, David (6 November 2007). The Late Hector Kipling: A Novel. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416541219.
  15. ^ Thewlis, David (5 August 2021). Shooting Martha. Orion. ISBN 9781474621564.
  16. ^ Grobar, Matt (23 June 2022). "Dennis Quaid, Isabelle Fuhrman, David Thewlis, Josh Hutcherson & Kiera Allen To Star In Sci-Fi Mystery 'Littlemouth' From Director Jonathan Sobol". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  17. ^ Rice, Lynette (15 February 2024). ""The CW Picks Up New Drama 'Sherlock & Daughter' Starring David Thewlis"". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 February 2024.
  18. ^ David Thewlis is the 'Anonymous' actor who's everywhere, Los Angeles Times, 12 January 2012.
  19. ^ "Friel, David split after nine years". Digital Spy. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  20. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  21. ^ Thewlis, David (9 July 2021). "Official David Thewlis". Instagram. Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  22. ^ "David Thewlis: It does get to you, spending more waking hours as a character than oneself". The Guardian. 25 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  23. ^ Thewlis, David (5 August 2021). "Official David Thewlis". Instagram. Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  24. ^ Zoe Williams, Growing old grotesquely, The Guardian, London, 7 December 2021, G2, page 8.

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