Denis Lawson

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Denis Lawson
Denis Lawson cropped.jpg
Denis Lawson at the 2006 Crieff Highland Games
Denis Stamper Lawson[1]

(1947-09-27) 27 September 1947 (age 74)
Crieff, Scotland
Years active1969–present
(m. 2004; died 2005)

Karen Prentice
(m. 2017)
RelativesEwan McGregor (nephew)

Denis Stamper Lawson[1] (born 27 September 1947) is a Scottish actor and director. He is known for his roles as John Jarndyce in the BBC's adaptation of Bleak House, as Gordon Urquhart in the film Local Hero, as Retired DI Steve McAndrew in BBC One's New Tricks, as Kit Curran in The Kit Curran Radio Show, and as Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Early life[edit]

Lawson was born in Glasgow but grew up in Crieff, Perthshire, after his family moved there when he was three years old.[2] He is the son of Phyllis Neno (née Stamper), a merchant, and Laurence Lawson, a watchmaker.[1] Lawson was educated at Crieff Primary School (then called Crieff Public School). After the 11-plus examination, he attended Morrison's Academy as a day pupil before attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, having first unsuccessfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He then sold carpets and did amateur theatre work for a year in Dundee before auditioning again at RADA in London and successfully at RSAMD in Glasgow.[3]


Lawson began his acting career with a small role in a 1969 stage production of The Metamorphosis in London's West End. and has since starred in television dramas such as The Merchant of Venice (1973) opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock, Rock Follies (1976) and Dead Head (1986).

Lawson played X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in all three films of the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2001, he reprised the role, in voiceover form, for the Nintendo GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

He has appeared often on the West End stage, notably in the musical Mr. Cinders at the Fortune Theatre from 1983–84.[4]

In 1999, Lawson directed a production of Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against the Eunuchs which was first staged at the Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End starring his nephew Ewan McGregor in the lead role of Malcolm Scrawdyke.

He appeared on an episode of Loose Ends hosted by Ned Sherrin on BBC Radio 4 on 10 December 2005.

In 2005, he played the leading role of John Jarndyce in the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, receiving an Emmy nomination. Two years later he played Peter Syme in the BBC One drama serial Jekyll, a modern version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.[5] Lawson also appeared as Captain "Dreadnought" Foster in ITV's dramatisations of C.S. Forester's Hornblower. He appeared in Robin Hood in which he played the Harold of Winchester.

He also appeared in the West End playing the character of Georges in the revival of the musical hit La Cage Aux Folles. No stranger to musical theatre, Lawson previously starred in the London revival of Pal Joey.

He starred as the lead in Above Their Station, a sitcom for the BBC written by Rhys Thomas about Community Support Officers; it was made as a pilot but never commissioned, being shown only as a one-off special.[6] Lawson appeared alongside actress Helena Bonham Carter in the BBC Four movie based on the life of Enid Blyton, playing Kenneth Darrell Waters, a London surgeon who becomes Blyton's second husband. In July 2009 Lawson appeared as Alexander Fleming in a BBC Four drama called Breaking the Mould: The Story of Penicillin alongside Dominic West. Lawson played the part of Alice's grandfather in ITV1's supernatural crime thriller Marchlands which was shown in February 2011.

Lawson appeared at the Royal Court Theatre once more in The Acid Test by Anya Reiss in 2011.[7]

Lawson replaced James Bolam in the BBC One series New Tricks in its ninth series in 2012.[8]

Lawson has said he was asked to reprise his role as Wedge Antilles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but reportedly turned down the role because he believed it would have "bored" him.[9] However, Lawson later said he actually declined to appear in The Force Awakens due to a scheduling conflict, and would have appeared in the film had he been available.[10] Lawson returned to the role in 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, he met actress Diane Fletcher in a stage production of Twelfth Night.[12] They have a son together, Jamie (born 1979).[13][14]

He met his wife, actress Sheila Gish, on the set of the 1985 film That Uncertain Feeling. They lived together for nearly 20 years before marrying in March 2004 in Antigua; she died of cancer a year later.[15]

In 2017, he married Karen Prentice in Italy.[16]

His nephew is actor Ewan McGregor.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Wedge Antilles Cameo
2013 The Machine Thomson
2013 The Wee Man Willie
2012 Broken Mr Buckley
2011 Perfect Sense Restaurant Owner
2006 Dolls Monsieur Nicholas Short film
2001 Leonard Leonard Short film
1996 Cervellini fritti impanati
1988 The Zip Eric Short film
1984 The Chain Keith
1983 Local Hero Gordon Urquhart
1983 Return of the Jedi Wedge Antilles
1983 Bitter Cherry Short film
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Wedge Antilles
1977 Providence Dave Woodford
1977 Star Wars Wedge Antilles


Year(s) Title Role Notes
2018 Death in Paradise Philip Marston 1 episode: Series 7, Episode 1
2017 Victoria Duke of Atholl 1 episode: Series 2, Episode 7 "The King Over the Water"
2016 In Plain Sight Episode 2
2014 Inside No. 9 Gerald 1 episode: Series 1, Episode 2 "A Quiet Night In"
2012–2015 New Tricks DI Steve McAndrew
2011 Candy Cabs Kenny Ho
2011 Marchlands Robert Bowen
2011 Hustle Benny 1 episode: Series 7, Episode 4
2010 Just William Headmaster
2010 Above Their Station Chief Constable Keith Boone
2009 Mister Eleven Len
2009 No Holds Bard Miekel
2009 Enid Kenneth Darrell Waters
2009 Breaking the Mould – The Story of Penicillin Alexander Fleming
2009 Criminal Justice DCI Bill Faber
2009 Law & Order:UK Philip Woodleigh 1 episode: "Sacrifice"
2008 The Passion Annas Episode 1–3
2008 Mumbai Calling Phillip Glass
2007 Robin Hood Harold of Winchester 1 episode: "For England!"
2007 Jekyll Peter Syme
2007 Marple Leo Argyle 1 episode: "Ordeal By Innocence"
2006 Dalziel and Pascoe John Barron 2 episodes: "The Cave Woman", Parts 1 and 2
2006 The Thieving Headmistress Father Plunkett
2006 Feel the Force Gordon Campbell
2005 Bleak House John Jarndyce
2005 Sensitive Skin Al Jackson
2003 Lucky Jim Julius Gore-Urquat
2003 A World in Arms Narrator
2003 The Ride Tommy
2002–2004, 2019 Holby City Tom Campbell-Gore Regular character
2001 The Fabulous Bagel Boys DI Morris Rose TV film
2000 Other People's Children Tom Series 1, Episodes 2 and 3
1999 Bob Martin Greg
1998 The Round Tower Arthur Brett
1998 The Ambassador John Stone
1998 Hornblower Captain 'Dreadnought' Foster 1 episode: "The Examination for Lieutenant"
1998 Cold Feet Alex Welch 1 episode: Series 1, Episode 4
1996 A Royal Scandal Henry Brougham
1997 Pie in the Sky Nick Spencer 1 episode: "In the Smoke"
1996 Tales from the Crypt Frank
1992 Natural Lies James Towne
1992 Screen One; Born Kicking Victor Grace
1992 El C.I.D. 1 episode: "My Brother's Keeper"
1991 Bejewelled Alistair
1990 Boon James Marian 1 episode: "Bully Boys"
1989 The Justice Game Dominic Rossi
1989 Screen One; One Way Out Bernard
1987 Love After Lunch Miles
1986 Dead Head Eddie Cass
1986 Kit Curran Kit Curran
1985 That Uncertain Feeling John Aneurin Lewis
1985 Victoria Wood As Seen on TV Phiilip and Singer 2 episodes: Series 1, Episode 2 and 5
1984 The Kit Curran Radio Show Kit Curran
1983 Bergerac Giroux 1 episode: "Miracle Every Week"
1982 Crown Court John Dickens 1 episode: "Talking to the Enemy"
1980 The Good Companions Albert Tuggridge 2 episodes:
 "Stumbling Chronicles"
 "In Which We Meet the Company"
1980 If Winter Comes
1980 Play for Today: The Flipside of Dominick Hide Felix
1979 Diary of a Nobody Frank Mutlar
1978 Play of the Week: Fearless Frank Ernest Dowson/Prof Byron Smith
1978 Armchair Thriller: The Girl Who Walked Quickly David Cooper
1977 The Man in the Iron Mask Claude
1977 Rock Follies of '77 Ken Church
1977 Seven Faces of Woman Jerome 1 episode: "She: Anxious Anne"
1977 Providence Dave Woodford
1976 Play for Today; The Jumping Bean Bag Snare
1975 Rock Follies Ken Church
1975 Survivors Norman 1 episode: "The Future Hour"
1974 Ms or Jill and Jack Jerry
1973 Beryl's Lot Peter Jaret 1 episode: "Getting Up"
1973 The Merchant of Venice Launcelot Gobbo
1969 Dr. Finlay's Casebook Andy Donald 1 episode: "Action, Dr. Cameron"


Year Title Character Production Notes
2022 Anything Goes Moonface Martin Barbican
2018 Art Marc UK and Ireland tour
2011 The Acid Test Jim Royal Court Theatre
2008 La Cage Aux Folles George Playhouse Theatre nominated for the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical
1995 Lust Horner Haymarket Theatre
1993 Oleanna John Duke of York's Theatre
1990 Volpone Mosca Almeida Theatre
1988 The Film Society Jonathon Balton Hampstead Theatre
1987 The Importance of Being Earnest Algernon Moncrieff Royalty Theatre
1986–87 Ashes Colin Bush Theatre
1986 Lend Me a Tenor Max Globe Theatre
1984 The Lucky Chance Bellmour Royal Court Theatre
1983–84 Mr Cinders Jim Lancastar King's Head Theatre then Fortune Theatre won the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical
1979 Fifty Words—Bits of Lenny Bruce King's Head Theatre
1978 A Greenish Man Patrick Bush Theatre
1978 We Can't Pay! We Won't Pay! Luigi Half Moon Theatre
1977 Censored Scenes from King Kong Stephen Open Space Theatre
1977 The Dog Ran Away Brother David Hampstead Theatre
1975 Kidnapped at Christmas Warder Mullins Shaw Theatre
1973 Sarah B. Divine Cochrane Theatre
1973 Kaspar Almost Free Theatre
1972 England's Ireland Round House Theatre
1971 Titus Andronicus Martius Round House Theatre

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader Wedge Antilles Voice
2020 Star Wars: Squadrons Wedge Antilles Voice


  1. ^ a b c Pendreigh, Brian (April 1999). Ewan McGregor. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 1-56025-239-1.
  2. ^ "Star Wars actor Denis Lawson talks life, the universe and everything". 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Denis Lawson interview". The Wright Stuff. 25 March 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Mr. Cinders". Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  5. ^ "An all-star cast to appear in BBC ONE's Jekyll". BBC Press Office. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  6. ^ "Above Their Station". BBC Three.
  7. ^ "Cast update for The Acid Test at Royal Court Theatre". 8 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Denis Lawson replaces James Bolam on New Tricks". Digital Spy. 11 January 2012.
  9. ^ McCormick, Rich (12 May 2014). "Wedge Antilles actor rejected 'Star Wars: Episode VII' role because it would 'bore' him". TheVerge. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  10. ^ Johnston, Rich (9 December 2017). "Denis Lawson, Wedge Antilles from Star Wars, Did Not Reject Doing the New Films After All". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  11. ^ Nero, Dom (8 October 2019). "Wedge Antilles's Return in the 'Rise of Skywalker' Confirms a Huge 'Star Wars' Theory". Esquire. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Twelfth Night; or, What You Will - ZOE WANAMAKER OFFICIAL WEBSITE -". Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Jamie Lawson". Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "He is the actor formerly known as Denis Lawson. Now he's more famous as Ewan McGregor's uncle. But he's not bitter". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Obituary: Sheila Gish". the Guardian. 11 March 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  16. ^ Churchill, Carolyn (11 October 2017). "Star Wars actor marries in Italy" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Ewan McGregor's Uncle, Who Played Wedge Antilles in Star Wars, Warned Him Against Obi-Wan Role". Retrieved 30 June 2021.

External links[edit]