James Fox

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For other people named James Fox, see James Fox (disambiguation).
James Fox
James Fox in the trailer for "The Chase" (1966)
Born William Fox
(1939-05-19) 19 May 1939 (age 76)
London, England
Residence London, England
Nationality British
Other names Willie Fox, Jim Fox
Alma mater Harrow School
Years active 1950–1970, 1983–present
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Piper (1973–present)
Parent(s) Robin Fox
Angela Worthington

James Fox (born William Fox, 19 May 1939) is an English actor.

Early life[edit]

Fox was born in London, England, to theatrical agent Robin Fox and actress Angela Worthington. Like several members of the Fox family, he was educated at Harrow School. He is the brother of the actor Edward Fox and the film producer Robert Fox. The actress Emilia Fox is his niece, and the actors Jack, Lydia, and Laurence Fox are his children. His mother's natural father was the playwright Frederick Lonsdale. Like his brother Edward, after leaving Harrow Fox took a short service commission in the Coldstream Guards.

Acting career[edit]

James Fox first appeared on film in The Miniver Story in 1950. His other early film appearances were made under the name William Fox.

In 1962 Fox was working in a bank, when Tony Richardson offered him a minor role in the film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Fox's father attempted to forbid this, claiming that his son Willie had no talent for acting and that it would disrupt his life for him to give up his job in the bank, but nevertheless Fox took the part.[1]

During the 1960s Fox gained popularity and appeared to be heading for stardom. In 1964, he won a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his role in The Servant (1963).[2] His roles in films such as Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), King Rat (1965), The Chase (1966), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Isadora (1968), and Performance (1970, alongside Mick Jagger), as well as his relationship with actress Sarah Miles, made him a media personality.

Spiritual life and break from acting[edit]

After finishing work on Performance (1970), Fox suspended his acting career. The strain of filming, his father's death in January 1971, and smoking the hallucinogen DMT, had led to a nervous breakdown.[3] On his break from acting, Fox has commented that "People think Performance blew my mind... my mind was blown long before that."[3]

He has also said that "Performance gave me doubts about my way of life. Before that I had been completely involved in the more bawdy side of the film business. But after that everything changed."[3]

In a 2008 interview, he said: "It was just part of my journey...I think my journey was to spend a while away from acting. And I never lost contact with it - watching movies, reading about it ... so I didn't feel I missed it."[4]

He became an evangelical Christian, working with the Navigators and devoting himself to the ministry.[5] During this time, the only film in which Fox appeared was No Longer Alone (1978), the story of Joan Winmill Brown,[6] a suicidal woman, who was led to faith in Jesus Christ by Ruth Bell Graham.[6]

Return to acting[edit]

After an absence of almost ten years from mainstream cinema, Fox returned to the screen, appearing in Stephen Poliakoff's Runners (1983), A Passage to India (1984), and playing Anthony Blunt in the acclaimed BBC play by Alan Bennett, A Question of Attribution (1992). He also portrayed the character of Colonel Ferguson in Farewell to the King and the pro-German aristocrat Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day (1993).

More recently, he has appeared in the 2001 adaption of The Lost World as Prof. Leo Summerlee, Agatha Christie's Poirot - Death on the Nile (2004) as Colonel Race and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) playing Mr. Salt, Veruca Salt's father. He appeared in the Doctor Who audio drama Shada, and in 2007, he guest-starred in the British television crime series Waking the Dead. He also appeared opposite his son Laurence Fox in "Allegory of Love", an episode in the third series of Lewis. He was part of the cast of Sherlock Holmes, as Sir Thomas, leading member of a freemason-like secret society.

In 2010, he filmed Cleanskin, a terrorist thriller directed by Hadi Hajaig,[7] and in 2011 he played King George V in Madonna's film W.E.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In the 1960s, Fox had a relationship with the actress Sarah Miles.

He married Mary Elizabeth Piper in 1973, with whom he has five children: actors Laurence, Lydia, and Jack Fox, and sons Robin and Thomas. In 2007 Laurence and Lydia married actors Billie Piper and Richard Ayoade, respectively. Fox is grandfather to Laurence's two sons with Billie Piper and Lydia's two daughters by Richard Ayoade. His niece Emilia Fox is also an actress. Both Emilia and James Fox have portrayed roles in BBC's hit TV series Merlin and Fox has guest-starred in his son Laurence's television series, Lewis.

In her 2014 book A Story Lately Told, Anjelica Huston references a sexual relationship with Fox when she was a teenager.

Film and television appearances[edit]


  1. ^ James M. Welsh, John C. Tibbetts, The Cinema of Tony Richardson: Essays and Interviews (1999), p. 119
  2. ^ a b "W./E. | Cast". We-movie.com. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2012-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b c IMDB.com, James Fox: Biography.
  4. ^ Jeeves (2010-11-22). ""Tweedland" The Gentlemen's club: JAMES FOX". Tweedlandthegentlemansclub.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-05-13. 
  5. ^ "Biography at British Cinema Greats". Retrieved 2006-07-31. 
  6. ^ a b "'The Epitome of a Christian Woman'". Christianity Today. 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  7. ^ Bean, Rampling Join Terrorist Thriller "Cleanskin" Dark Horizons. 2 March 2010
  8. ^ Catherine Cookson's The Dwelling Place at radiotimes.com

External links[edit]