David Thewlis

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David Thewlis
David Thewlis 2008.jpg
Thewlis in September 2008
Born David Wheeler
(1963-03-20) 20 March 1963 (age 55)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Actor, director, screenwriter, author
Years active 1985–present
Sara Sugarman
(m. 1992; div. 1994)
Partner(s) Anna Friel (2001–2010)[1]
Children 1

David Thewlis (born David Wheeler; born 20 March 1963) is an English actor, director, screenwriter, and author. He first rose to promience for playing Johnny Fletched in the film Naked (1993), for which he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor. His most commercially successful roles to date have been of Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film series and Ares in Wonder Woman (2017). Other notable film appearances include Dragonheart (1996), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), War Horse (2011), The Theory of Everything (2014) and Anomalisa (2015).

Thewlis has combined major motion picture work with prominent television roles, including portraying Cyrus Crabb in the ABC miniseries Dinotopia (2002) and V. M. Varga in the third season of Fargo (2017).

Early life[edit]

Thewlis was born David Wheeler on 20 March 1963[2] in Blackpool, Lancashire, the second of three children of Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler.[3] Both parents worked at his father's shop. As a teenager, he played in a rock band called QED, and played lead guitar with a punk rock band called Door 66. He was educated at Highfield High School, a state secondary school in South Shore, Blackpool. Later, he enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 1984.[4]

Acting career[edit]

Thewlis had a minor role in an episode of the 1980s sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle.[5] He also appeared in an episode of popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses (1985) as a friend of Rodney. His first professional role was in the play Buddy Holly at the Regal in Greenwich.[4]

Thewlis's breakout role was Naked (1993; dir. Mike Leigh), as the main character, Johnny, a highly intelligent, embittered, rambling street philosopher, for which Thewlis was 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. Before that, his first television appearance was in Valentine Park.

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) and Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 (2000), opposite Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell.

He auditioned for the role of Quirinus Quirrell in the 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 is playing 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).

Directing and other ventures[edit]

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). Thewlis is also an author; his debut novel, The Late Hector Kipling, is a black comedy set in the art world and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007.[10]

Personal life[edit]

In 1992, Thewlis married director Sara Sugarman; they divorced in 1994. He then had a brief relationship with Bill Oddie's daughter Kate Hardie. In 2001, he began a relationship with actress Anna Friel, whom he met on a flight to Cannes. They have one child together.[11] Friel and Thewlis ended their relationship in late 2010.[12]

Thewlis owns a converted Victorian ballroom in Clerkenwell. He is often mistaken for fellow actor Rhys Ifans (Friel's subsequent partner): "Twice a week, people come up to me and say, 'You were great in Notting Hill.' The public seem to think we are the same person."[4]



Year Title Role Director Notes
1987 Road Joey Alan Clarke
The Short and Curlies Clive Mike Leigh Short film
1988 Vroom Ringe Beeban Kidron
Little Dorrit George Braddle Christine Edzard
1989 Resurrected Kevin Deakin Paul Greengrass
1991 Life Is Sweet Nicola's lover Mike Leigh
Afraid of the Dark Locksmith
Tom Miller
Mark Peploe
1992 Swords at Teatime Michael David Freeman Short film
Damage Detective Louis Malle
1993 The Trial Franz David Jones
Naked Johnny Mike Leigh
1994 Black Beauty Jerry Barker Caroline Thompson
1995 Total Eclipse Paul Verlaine Agnieszka Holland
Restoration John Pearce Michael Hoffman
Hello, Hello, Hello N/A Himself Short film; directed and wrote
1996 James and the Giant Peach Earthworm Henry Selick Voice
Dragonheart King Einon Rob Cohen
The Island of Dr. Moreau Edward Douglas John Frankenheimer
1997 American Perfekt Santini Paul Chart
Seven Years in Tibet Peter Aufschnaiter Jean-Jacques Annaud
1998 The Big Lebowski Knox Harrington Joel Coen
Divorcing Jack Dan Starkey David Caffrey
Besieged Jason Kinsky Bernardo Bertolucci
1999 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? Nesbit Peter Hewitt
2000 The Miracle Maker Judas Iscariot Derek W. Hayes
Stanislav Sokolov
Gangster No. 1 Freddie Mays Paul McGuigan
Beckett on Film – Endgame Clov Conor McPherson
2001 Goodbye Charlie Bright Charlie's dad Nick Love
2002 D.I.Y. Hard Man Pat Holden
2003 Cheeky Harry Sankey Himself Also directed and wrote
Timeline Robert Doniger Richard Donner
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Remus Lupin Alfonso Cuarón
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Hospitaller Ridley Scott
All the Invisible Children Jonathan Ridley Scott
Jordan Scott
Segment: "Jonathan"
The New World Edward Wingfield Terrence Malick
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Roy Washburn Michael Caton-Jones
The Omen Keith Jennings John Moore
2007 The Inner Life of Martin Frost Martin Frost Paul Auster
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Remus Lupin David Yates
2008 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas SS-Obersturmbannführer Ralph Mark Herman
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Remus Lupin David Yates
Veronika Decides to Die Dr. Blake Emily Young
2010 Mr. Nice Jim McCann Bernard Rose
London Boulevard Jordan William Monahan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Remus Lupin David Yates
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
The Lady Michael Aris Luc Besson
Anonymous William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley Roland Emmerich
War Horse Lyons Steven Spielberg
2012 Separate We Come, Separate We Go Norman Bonnie Wright Short film
2013 Red 2 The Frog Dean Parisot
The Fifth Estate Nick Davies Bill Condon
The Zero Theorem Joby Terry Gilliam
2014 The Theory of Everything Dennis Sciama James Marsh
Stonehearst Asylum Mickey Finn Brad Anderson
Queen and Country Bradley John Boorman
2015 Regression Professor Kenneth Raines Alejandro Amenábar
Legend Leslie Payne Brian Helgeland
Macbeth King Duncan Justin Kurzel
Anomalisa Michael Stone Charlie Kaufman
Duke Johnson
2017 Wonder Woman Ares Patty Jenkins
Justice League Zack Snyder Cameo
2018 The Mercy Rodney Hallworth James Marsh
2019 Eternal Beauty Mike Craig Roberts Post-production
2020 Avatar 2 TBA James Cameron Filming
2021 Avatar 3


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Only Fools and Horses Stew Episode: "It's Only Rock and Roll"
Radio Pictures Jim Grams Television film
1986 The Singing Detective Second Soldier 2 episodes
1987–1988 Valentine Park Max 12 episodes
1989 A Bit of a Do Paul Simcock 6 episodes
Skulduggery Tony Television film
1990 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Doctor 3 episodes
1991 Journey to Knock Terry Television film
Shrinks Terry Slater Episode 1.5
Screen One Tim Shanks Episode: "Filipina Dreamgirls"
1992 Black and Blue Crematorium attendant Television film
1993 Frank Stubbs Promotes Mike Bence Episode: "Striker"
Prime Suspect 3 James Jackson Television film
1994 Dandelion Dead Oswald Martin 4 episodes
1999 Love Story Dealer Television film
2000 Endgame Clov Television film
2001 Hamilton Mattress Hamilton Mattress Voice
Television film
2002 Dinotopia Cyrus Crabb 6 episodes
2007 The Street Joe / Harry Jennerson Episode: "Twins"
2014 Family Guy British Father Voice
Episode: "Chap Stewie"
2015 An Inspector Calls Inspector Goole Television film
2017 Fargo V. M. Varga 10 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role
2004 World of Warcraft Lord Darius Crowley
2010 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film 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 Won
2011 Scream Award Best Ensemble
(shared with the entire cast)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 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
2017 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Nominated
2017 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated


  1. ^ David Thewlis is the 'Anonymous' actor who's everywhere, Los Angeles Times, 12 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Behind The Voice Actors - David Thewlis". Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "David Thewlis profile at FilmReference.com". Film Reference.com. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c Grice, Elizabeth (4 May 2005). "'Anna has changed me for the better'". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  5. ^ "Up the Elephant and Round the Castle(1983–1985) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  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. "Wonder Woman: Harry Potter Actor David Thewlis Reportedly Cast as Villain Ares". IGN. 
  10. ^ ISBN 9781416541219
  11. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  12. ^ "Friel, David split after nine years". Digital Spy. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 

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