Jump to content

James Norton (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Norton
James Norton filming TV series Grantchester on Clare College Bridge in Cambridge in 205
Norton in 2015
James Geoffrey Ian Norton

(1985-07-18) 18 July 1985 (age 38)
London, England[1]
EducationFitzwilliam College, Cambridge (BA)
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active2007–present

James Geoffrey Ian Norton[2] (born 18 July 1985) is an English film, television, and stage actor. He is known for roles in the television series Happy Valley, Grantchester, War & Peace and McMafia. He played the title role in the 2019 film Mr. Jones. He earned a nomination for the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2015 for his performance as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley.

Early life and education[edit]

Norton was born in Lambeth, London,[1] the son of Hugh Biddulph Norton and Lavinia Jane Norman.[3] His parents were both teachers; his father, who was born in Tanzania, was a lecturer at Hull School of Art and Design.[4][5] Though originally from London, Norton's family lived in the town of Malton in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.[6][7] Norton, who grew up at the edge of the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire, has described his childhood as "idyllic".[8] His grandfather, Ian Norton MBE (1923–2003), a colonial official in Tanganyika,[9] was son of Hugh Ross Norton OBE, Archdeacon of Sudbury from 1945 to 1962; Ian's wife, Jean (1923–2016), was daughter of Colonel Francis John Biddulph, of the Royal Engineers. The Biddulphs were a branch of an Irish landed gentry family.[10]

Norton was educated at Bramcote Prep School (Scarborough College) in Scarborough until the age of 13 and Ampleforth College,[2][11] an independent Roman Catholic (Benedictine) boarding school in the village of Ampleforth in North Yorkshire. He did work experience at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough when he was 15.[5]

Starting in 2004,[12] Norton read theology at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, graduating in 2007 with First Class Honours.[11] Norton received a Fitzwilliam Travel Grant to travel to Northern India, to teach and perform for schoolchildren at 16 schools.[11] He has said his studies were principally focused on Hinduism and Buddhism.[2]

Norton was a member of The Marlowe Society theatre club at Cambridge, and in 2007 he played Posthumus in a production of Cymbeline directed by Trevor Nunn for the society's centenary.[13] Norton has said that he performed in many theatre productions while at university.[14][15] Norton then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London for three years, but left in 2010 six months before graduation to take an acting assignment.[4][16]


Norton appeared as a classmate of Jenn in the film An Education, starring Carey Mulligan, in 2009.[16] In 2010 he was an original cast member of Posh at the Royal Court Theatre.[17] At the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2010, Norton starred in That Face as Henry, an 18-year-old who has dropped out of school to care for his mentally disturbed and drug-dependent mother, played by Frances Barber. Lynne Walker of The Independent wrote of his performance: "At the centre of it all is Henry who, in James Norton's striking portrayal, is like a young caged animal."[18] In 2011, Norton starred as Captain Stanhope in the First World War drama Journey's End.[19] The production toured the UK from March to June and transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End from July to September.[7] Norton then took the role of Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket directed by Trevor Nunn, with whom Norton had worked at Cambridge in Cymbeline.[16]

In the 2012 film Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, Norton played Owen, the would-be groom of a conflicted bride.[20] He appeared in the 2013 film Rush as Formula One driver Guy Edwards. In the 2013 film Belle, he played a suitor of the title character, a mixed-race woman in 18th-century English society.[21] Norton's television appearances include the Doctor Who episode "Cold War", in which he played a crewman on a Soviet submarine during the Cold War, and Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the P. D. James novel involving characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice caught up in a murder mystery. Norton was acclaimed for his role as Tommy Lee Royce, the villain of the hit crime drama Happy Valley. Michael Hogan of The Telegraph wrote: "...the breakout star, seen in only a few small parts before this, has been the devilishly handsome James Norton, 29, as the heinous killer Royce, whom he has played with impressive depth."[22] As the first series came to its dramatic conclusion, Norton commented, "8 million people are currently wishing me dead."[22] Norton confirmed he would be appearing in the second series of Happy Valley at the 2015 BAFTAs[23] and continued in the role in the third series.

From 2014 to 2018 Norton played crime-solving vicar Sidney Chambers alongside Robson Green as Police Inspector Geordie Keating in the ITV series Grantchester, based on the stories by James Runcie.[24][25] Grantchester was his first starring role.[26] A second series was broadcast in early 2016. A third series went into production in autumn 2016, and aired in both the UK and the U.S. in late spring and early summer 2017.[27][28] A fourth series began filming in June 2018, and it was confirmed that this would be Norton's final series.[29]

He also appeared in the 2014 films Northmen: A Viking Saga and Mr. Turner, a biographical drama on the life of the artist J. M. W. Turner by director Mike Leigh.[30] In 2015 Norton played Duncan Grant in the BBC Two mini-series about the Bloomsbury Group, Life in Squares.[30][31][32] In 2016, Norton appeared as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in the BBC miniseries of Andrew Davies' production of War & Peace.[4][33] The mini-series, a co-production with The Weinstein Company, allowed the cast to film in Russia.[34]

Between March and May 2016 Norton appeared in Tracy LettsBug in London's West End.[35] In 2016, he appeared in "Nosedive", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror.[36] Between December 2017 and February 2018 he appeared in Amy Herzog’s Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre.[37] As part of his preparation for his role in McMafia, Norton studied the Russian martial art and health system Systema.[38] In 2019, Norton portrayed John Brooke in Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women.[39][40]

He was ranked 31 on the Radio Times's TV 100 power list in 2024.[41]

Personal life[edit]

When asked if he was religious, in the context of portraying a vicar in Grantchester, Norton said: "Obviously I have a relationship with religion, because I went to a Catholic school and studied theology. I can't call myself religious, but I'm definitely fascinated by it".[15]

In 2015, Norton became a trustee of the Royal Theatrical Support Trust.[42] Norton has type 1 diabetes.[2][43]

He was in a romantic relationship with actress Jessie Buckley between 2015 and 2017.[44] Norton was in a relationship with actress Imogen Poots from 2018 until breaking up before Christmas 2023.[45] They had been engaged since 2022.[46]



Year Title Role Notes
2009 An Education Student
2012 Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Owen
2013 Rush Guy Edwards
Belle Oliver Ashford
2014 Mr. Turner Francis Willoughby
Bonobo Ralph
Northmen: A Viking Saga Bjorn
2017 Hampstead Philip
Flatliners Jamie
2018 Hero Young Charles Short
2019 Mr Jones Gareth Jones
Little Women John Brooke
2020 Nowhere Special John
2021 Things Heard & Seen George Claire
2022 Rogue Agent[47] Robert Hendy-Freegard
2023 Ex-Husbands Nick Pearce
2023 A Little Life Jude St. Francis Recording of West End production
2024 Bob Marley: One Love Christopher Blackwell
TBA Joy Robert Edwards Post-production[48]


Year Title Role Notes
2012 Inspector George Gently James Blackstone Episode: "Gently with Class"
Restless Kolia Miniseries
2013 Blandings Jimmy Belford Episode: "Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey"
Doctor Who Onegin Episode: "Cold War"
By Any Means Michael Prence Episode: "Episode 1"
Death Comes to Pemberley Henry Alveston 3 episodes
2014–2023 Happy Valley Tommy Lee Royce Main role
2014–2019 Grantchester Sidney Chambers Main role
2015 Life in Squares Young Duncan Grant 3 episodes
Lady Chatterley's Lover Sir Clifford Chatterley Television film
2016 War & Peace Prince Andrei Bolkonsky Main role
Black Mirror Ryan Episode: "Nosedive"
To Walk Invisible Duke of Wellington Television film
Wild West: America's Great Frontier Narrator 3 episodes
2018 McMafia Alex Godman Main role
2019–2020 The Trial of Christine Keeler Stephen Ward Miniseries
2021–2023 The Nevers Hugo Swan Main role
2024 Playing Nice Pete In production[49]
TBA King and Conqueror Harold Godwinson In production

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Dragon Age: Inquisition Cole Voice


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Cymbeline Posthumus Cambridge Arts Theatre (1–6 October 2007)
2010 Posh Miles Richards Royal Court Theatre, London (9 April – 22 May 2010)
That Face Henry Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (7–24 July 2010)
2011 Journey's End Captain Stanhope UK national tour (March–June 2011)
Duke of York's Theatre, London (19 July – 3 September 2011)
2011–2012 The Lion in Winter Geoffrey Theatre Royal Haymarket, London (5 November 2011 – 28 January 2012)
2016 Bug Peter Found111, London (24 March – 14 May 2016)
2017–2018 Belleville Zack Donmar Warehouse, London (7 December 2017 – 3 February 2018)
2023 A Little Life Jude St Francis Richmond Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre and Savoy Theatre, London[50]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2014 Crime Thriller Awards Best Supporting Actor Happy Valley Won [51]
2015 British Academy Television Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominated [52]
2021 British Independent Film Awards Best Actor Nowhere Special Nominated
2024 WhatsOnStage Awards Best Performer in a Play A Little Life Won [53]
Laurence Olivier Awards Best Actor Nominated [54]


  1. ^ a b Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales confirms name and birthdate and lists birthplace as Lambeth. Publisher: General Register Office. Retrieved: 30 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Godwin, Richard. "The Rise of Mr. James Norton". Mr. Porter. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Hugh Norton & Lavinia Norton Engagement, Children, Joint Family Tree & History – FameChain". Famechain.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Norton, Graham Norton (2 January 2016). "James Norton, Graham Norton — BBC Radio 2". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Williams, Andrew (1 June 2014). "'I admire Michael Fassbender enormously,' says Happy Valley's James Norton". The Sunday Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  6. ^ "How James Norton went from killer to clergyman". The Yorkshire Post. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b Hutchinson, Charles (19 May 2011). "Review: Journey's End, Leeds Grand Theatre". The Press (York). Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  8. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (9 January 2015). "Easily Channeling a Vulnerable Vicar: James Norton in 'Grantchester' on PBS 'Masterpiece'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  9. ^ Tanganyika Territory Blue Book for the year ended 31 December 1946, printed and published by the Government Printer, Dar Es Salaam, 1946, p. 115
  10. ^ Burke's Irish Family Records, ed. Hugh Montgomery Massingberd, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1976, p. 108
  11. ^ a b c "All the world's a stage (page 13)" (PDF). Optima (13). Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge: 13. Autumn 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  12. ^ "James Norton British Actor: Know Everything About Him". Arts Tribune. 16 October 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  13. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (24 September 2007). "The Marlowe Society: Talent show for theatre's brightest stars". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  14. ^ "James Norton". The Artists Partnership. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  15. ^ a b Merry, Elspeth (28 April 2014). "James Norton". 1883 Magazine. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  16. ^ a b c Watson, Jonathan (4 November 2011). "James Norton: Joining the big league". The Stage. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  17. ^ Billington, Michael (16 April 2010). "'Posh' – Royal Court, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  18. ^ Walker, Lynne (9 July 2010). "'That Face, Crucible Studio, Sheffield". The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Best of British: James Norton". ShortList. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  20. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 December 2012). "There Will Always Be a Fantasy England: 'Cheerful Weather for the Wedding' With Elizabeth McGovern". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  21. ^ Darling, Cary (21 May 2014). "Movie Review: 'Belle'". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  22. ^ a b Hogan, Michael (3 June 2014). "Happy Valley's James Norton: '8 million people are currently wishing me dead'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  23. ^ Goodacre, Kate; Jeffery, Morgan (10 May 2015). "James Norton will return to Happy Valley for series 2". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  24. ^ "ITV announces the cast of new six-part drama Grantchester". ITV Press Centre. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  25. ^ Debnath, Neela (20 October 2014). "Grantchester star Robson Green: 'We're going to lose James Norton quickly'". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Grantchester: James Norton talks about playing heavy-drinking vicar in new detective drama". Nottingham Post. 7 October 2014. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  27. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 November 2014). "ITV Has Faith In 'Grantchester', Orders 2nd Season Of Period Mystery Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  28. ^ Hughes, Sarah (3 March 2016). "Grantchester, TV review: It took less than two minutes for James Norton to strip to his swimming trunks". The Independent. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  29. ^ "Grantchester series 4 confirmed – but it's set to be James Norton's last". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  30. ^ a b Fisher, Alice (5 October 2014). "Fashion: James Norton under cover". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  31. ^ Molloy, Antonia (18 August 2014). "New BBC drama Life in Squares to track lives of Bloomsbury Set". The Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  32. ^ Kelly, Guy (25 July 2015). "Life In Squares star James Norton: 'acting is a neurotic profession, I always need to get away'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  33. ^ "James Norton: 'Weirdly, I read War & Peace while filming Happy Valley!' (Video)". What's on TV. 29 December 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  34. ^ Brown, Emma (14 January 2016). "The Russian Prince". Interview. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  35. ^ Shenton, Mark (12 February 2016). "Tracy Letts's Bug To Be Revived at West End's Found111 with TV Star James Norton and Kate Fleetwood". Playbill. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  36. ^ Pederson, Erik (7 October 2016). "'Black Mirror' Season 3 Trailer: "No One Is This Happy'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  37. ^ Hetrick, Adam (13 November 2017). "James Norton and Imogen Poots Cast in Amy Herzog's Belleville at the Donmar". playbill.com. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  38. ^ Systema GB Intuitive Self Defence (5 January 2018), James Norton talks about Systema training for his role in McMafia, retrieved 9 January 2018
  39. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (2 August 2018). "Sony's 'Little Women' Adaptation Adds 'Flatliners' Actor James Norton". Deadline Hollywood.
  40. ^ James, Caryn (16 December 2019). "Why Little Women is a Triumph". BBC Online.
  41. ^ "Radio Times TV 100 – the full list". Radio Times. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  42. ^ "James Norton on Twitter". Twitter.
  43. ^ Ross, Jonathan (30 January 2016). "Series 10 – Episode 4". The Jonathan Ross Show. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  44. ^ Lamont, Tom (20 March 2021). "Jessie Buckley on Covid filming: 'The world's greatest love scene – and we couldn't touch!'". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  45. ^ Crosbie, Eve (22 January 2021). "Who is actor James Norton dating? All the details". Hello!. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  46. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (30 July 2022). "James Norton: 'My greatest fear? Rats. We had one swim up our loo recently. It was horrific'". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  47. ^ "'Rogue Agent' Trailer: Gemma Arterton Is On The Hunt For Conman James Norton In A New Spy Thriller". theplaylist.net. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  48. ^ Dalton, Ben; Leffler, Rebecca (23 September 2023). "Bill Nighy, James Norton, Thomasin McKenzie lead Ben Taylor's IVF film 'Joy' for Netflix, Pathe; first look with production underway (exclusive)". Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  49. ^ Kanter, Jake (21 November 2023). "'Happy Valley' Star James Norton To Headline ITV, StudioCanal Baby Swap Series 'Playing Nice'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  50. ^ Wood, Alex (23 November 2022). "A Little Life to run in the West End with James Norton, Omari Douglas, Luke Thompson and Zach Wyatt". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  51. ^ "Winners unmasked at Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2014 on ITV3". ITV. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  52. ^ "BAFTA TV awards 2015: Nominations in full". BBC. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  53. ^ Millward, Tom (7 December 2023). "James Norton and Luke Thompson win WhatsOnStage Awards for A Little Life". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  54. ^ "Olivier awards 2024: complete list of nominations". The Guardian. 12 March 2024. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 March 2024.

External links[edit]