Karl Urban

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Karl Urban
Karl Urban by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Urban in 2017
Karl-Heinz Urban

(1972-06-07) 7 June 1972 (age 50)[1]
Wellington, New Zealand
EducationSt Mark's Church School
Alma materWellington College
Years active1990–present
Natalie Wihongi
(m. 2004; sep. 2014)

Karl-Heinz Urban (born 7 June 1972) is a New Zealand actor. His career began with appearances in New Zealand films and TV series such as Xena: Warrior Princess. His first Hollywood role was in the 2002 horror film Ghost Ship. Since then, he has starred in many high-profile movies, including as Éomer in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Vaako in the second and third installments of Riddick film series, Leonard McCoy in the Star Trek reboot film series, Kirill in The Bourne Supremacy (2004), John "Reaper" Grimm in Doom (2005), Judge Dredd in Dredd (2012), Gavin Magary in Pete's Dragon (2016), and Skurge in Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok (2017). In 2013, he starred in the sci-fi series Almost Human. Since 2019, he has starred as Billy Butcher in Amazon's superhero streaming television series The Boys.[2]

Early life[edit]

Urban was born in Wellington, New Zealand.[3] His father, a German immigrant,[3] owned a leather goods store, and his mother once worked for Film Facilities in Wellington. Through his mother, the young Urban was exposed to classic New Zealand cinema and developed an interest in the film industry.[4] Urban attended St Mark's Church School,[5] where he showed an early love for public performance. His first acting role came at age eight, when he had a single line in one episode of the New Zealand television series Pioneer Woman.[3] Though continuing to take part in school stage productions, he did not act professionally again until after high school.[3]

He attended Wellington College in 1986–1990.[3] He then enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington in the Bachelor of Arts program but left after one year to pursue a career in acting.[3] Over the next few years, he appeared in several local TV commercials in addition to theater roles in the Wellington area. Eventually, he moved to Auckland where he was offered many guest roles in TV shows (one of which was playing a heroin addict in the police drama Shark in the Park). Urban then moved briefly to Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia in 1995 before returning to New Zealand the following year.[3]


Urban's first Hollywood role was in the 2002 horror film Ghost Ship. Since then, he has worked on many high-profile movies, including the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Two Towers and The Return of the King) as Éomer, The Bourne Supremacy (as Russian Federal Security Service agent Kirill), The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek and Doom. The Hollywood Reporter speculated that Urban was one of several actors being considered for the part of British secret service agent 007 in Casino Royale, directed by fellow New Zealander Martin Campbell.[6]

Urban, Zachary Quinto, J. J. Abrams, and Chris Pine, at the Star Trek Into Darkness movie premiere in Sydney, Australia, April 2013

Urban played John "Reaper" Grimm in Universal Pictures' Doom (based on the first-person shooter video game Doom), which was released on 21 October 2005. In 2007, he starred in the Viking adventure Pathfinder. A longtime fan of Westerns,[7] he starred as Woodrow Call in Comanche Moon, a television miniseries that aired in early 2008 as a prequel to the Lonesome Dove miniseries based on Larry McMurtry's book series of the same name.

In the 2009 film Star Trek, he played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, a role originated by DeForest Kelley in the original Star Trek TV series.[8][9][10][11] A fan of the Star Trek franchise since childhood, Urban actively pursued a role in the film.[12] His performance was widely embraced by the Star Trek fan community for its faithfulness to the spirit of Kelley's McCoy.[13] Urban reprised the role in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness and the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond.

Urban next appeared as CIA agent William Cooper in Red, adapted from the graphic novel of the same name and co-starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren.[14] He portrayed Black Hat, a villainous priest-turned-vampire, in the film adaption of the Korean manhwa Priest, released in 3-D in 2011.[15]

In 2012, Urban starred as law-enforcing comic book character Judge Dredd in the film Dredd. In an interview with Shave magazine, Urban described it as a "high-octane, action-fueled film... about the day in the life of Dredd". The film was directed by Pete Travis, with a script by Alex Garland.[16] Though it underperformed at the box office, Dredd was well received by critics.[17]

In 2013, Urban starred as Detective John Kennex in Almost Human, a TV series created by J. H. Wyman. The series was set 35 years into the future when cops in the L.A.P.D. are paired up with lifelike androids. Urban played a detective who has a dislike for robots but ends up being teamed up with one with emotional feelings. Urban next appeared in the ensemble thriller The Loft, a remake of the Belgian film of the same name. It was filmed in New Orleans and Belgium by the director of the 2008 original, Erik Van Looy.[18] In January 2015, Urban replaced Michael C. Hall as the main antagonist in the 2016 remake of Pete's Dragon.[19] In 2017, he played Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok.[20] Also in 2017, Urban played a psychotic cop in the action thriller Acts of Vengeance opposite Antonio Banderas and Robert Forster.[21] Urban had a cameo as a stormtrooper in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019.[22] He voiced the lead role in The Sea Beast in 2022.

Since 2019, Urban has starred as William "Billy" Butcher in the Amazon Prime series The Boys.[23]

Personal life[edit]

In September 2004, Urban married his longtime partner, Natalie Wihongi, who was his makeup artist for the 2000 television film The Privateers.[24] Together they have two sons; Hunter and Indiana. His second son was named for the eponymous hero of the Indiana Jones franchise,[25] which he has stated is one of his favourite movie series.[26] They lived in their NZ$5.25 million mansion in the affluent Herne Bay section of Auckland, New Zealand.[27] The couple announced their separation in June 2014,[27] selling their home for NZ$6.65 million in December 2014.

From 2014 to 2018, he was in a relationship with actress Katee Sackhoff.[28]


Urban serves as a celebrity ambassador for KidsCan, a charity that currently supports over 16,000 disadvantaged children in New Zealand by providing them with essentials such as food, clothing, and shoes.[29]

In May 2022, UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand welcomed Urban as an official Ambassador to support in raising awareness on children’s rights both in New Zealand and around the world.[30]

On 1 June 2020, Urban, together with Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood, plus writer Philippa Boyens and director Peter Jackson, joined Josh Gad's YouTube series Reunited Apart which reunites the cast of popular movies through video-conferencing, and promotes donations to non-profit charities.[31]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Chunuk Bair Wellington Soldier
1998 Heaven Sweeper
Via Satellite Paul
2000 The Irrefutable Truth about Demons Harry Ballard
The Price of Milk Rob
2002 Ghost Ship Munder
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Éomer
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2004 The Chronicles of Riddick Siberius Vaako
The Bourne Supremacy Kirill
2005 Doom John "Reaper" Grimm Nominated—Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Bloodiest Beatdown (with Dwayne Johnson)
2006 Out of the Blue Nick Harvey Won—Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor
2007 Pathfinder Ghost
2009 Star Trek Leonard McCoy Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Black Water Transit[32] Earl Pike
2010 And Soon the Darkness[33] Michael
Red[34] William Cooper
2011 Priest[35] Black Hat
2012 Dredd[36] Judge Dredd
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness[37] Leonard McCoy
Riddick[38] Siberius Vaako Cameo
Walking with Dinosaurs[39] Zack
2014 The Loft[40] Vincent Stevens
2016 Star Trek Beyond[41] Leonard McCoy
Pete's Dragon[42] Gavin Magary
2017 Thor: Ragnarok[43] Skurge the Executioner
Acts of Vengeance[44] Officer Hank Strode
Hangman[45] Detective Will Ruiney
2018 Bent[46] Danny Gallagher
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Stormtrooper Cameo
2020 Butcher: A Short Film William "Billy" Butcher Short film
2022 The Sea Beast Jacob Holland Voice role[47]


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Shark in the Park Rohann Murdoch 6 episodes
1992 Homeward Bound Tim Johnstone Unknown episodes
1993 White Fang David Episode: "Tough Kid"
1993–1994 Shortland Street Paramedic Jamie Forrest Recurring
1995 Riding High James Westwood Unknown episodes
1996 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Cupid Episode: "The Green-Eyed Monster"
1996–2001 Xena: Warrior Princess Mael Episode: "Altared States" (season 1)
Julius Caesar 8 episodes (season 2–4, 6)
Cupid 2 episodes (season 2)
Kor Episode: "Lifeblood" (season 5)
1997 Amazon High Kor Television film
1998 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Julius Caesar Episode: "Render Unto Caesar"
2000 The Privateers Capt. Aran Dravyk Television film
2008 Comanche Moon[48] Woodrow F. Call Miniseries
2013 Almost Human John Kennex 13 episodes
2014 Short Poppies Alex Turnbull Episode: "Mary Ledbetter"
2019–present The Boys William "Billy" Butcher Lead role, 24 episodes. Also producer.
Nominated—Best Actor in a Superhero Series, Critics' Choice Super Awards
Nominated—Best Actor in a Streaming Series, Drama, Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards
2022 Ark: The Animated Series Bob Voice role[49]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2013 Star Trek[50] Leonard McCoy Also likeness


  1. ^ "Miami Herald: Search Results". 7 June 2009.
  2. ^ "Karl Urban to Star in Amazon Superhero Drama Series 'The Boys'". The Hollywood Reporter. 5 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dixon, Greg (18 July 2000). "Karl Urban - The price of fame". The New Zealand Herald.
  4. ^ "Biography". Karlurbanonline.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  5. ^ "St Mark's Church School Magazine 1983" (PDF). St Mark's School. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Karl Urban rewinds TV favorites
  8. ^ And Karl Urban as McCoy!, 17 October 2007
  9. ^ Urban, Pine join Abrams' 'Star Trek', 18 October 2007
  10. ^ Karl Urban: From Comanche Moon's Old West to Star Trek's Exciting Future, 11 January 2008
  11. ^ Urban Talks Trek Characters and Production Design, 11 January 2008
  12. ^ "Karl Urban Was Ready For Star Trek". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Happy Birthday, Karl Urban". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  14. ^ Interview: Karl Urban on the set of RED, 15 July 2010
  15. ^ "SD Comic-Con '10: Karl Urban Goes Vampirific in 'Priest'". Bloody Disgusting!. 22 July 2010.
  16. ^ "Interview: Karl Urban". Shave. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Dredd Wraps Its Theatrical Run". comicbook.com. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  18. ^ Brown, Todd (8 June 2011). "Erik Van Looy's Loft Receives Second Remake in Three Years". ScreenAnarchy. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  19. ^ Sneider, Jeff (29 January 2015). "Karl Urban to Replace Michael C. Hall in Disney's 'Pete's Dragon' Remake". TheWrap. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Marvel Studios Confirms Stellar New Cast Members of the Highly Anticipated 'Thor: Ragnarok' - News - Marvel.com".
  21. ^ Harvey, Dennis (26 October 2017). "Film Review: 'Acts of Vengeance.'Antonio Banderas buffs up for a bit of revenge in this pedestrian B-level action thriller". variety. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  22. ^ Alex, Susannah; Tanswell, Adam (28 July 2020). "The Boys and Star Trek star Karl Urban had secret Rise of Skywalker cameo". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  23. ^ Petski, Denise (21 September 2020). "'The Boys' Renewed For Season 2 By Amazon; Aya Cash Closes Deal As Stormfront". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Karl Urban Online". Karl Urban Online. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  25. ^ "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies". Empire (film magazine). Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  26. ^ Atchity, Matt (23 July 2010). "Five Favorite Films with Karl Urban". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  27. ^ a b "Karl Urban and wife separate". The New Zealand Herald. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  28. ^ Glucina, Rachel (9 January 2015). "The Diary: Karl Urban's new romance gets serious". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  29. ^ "Patrons and Ambassadors". KidsCan. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  30. ^ "Karl Urban appointed as new UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand Ambassador". UNICEF. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  31. ^ Robertson, Ian (31 May 2020). "Peter Jackson reveals story behind Sean Bean 'walk into Mordor' meme in 'Lord of the Rings' reunion". EW.com. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  32. ^ Tony Kaye Says Unreleased 'Black Water Transit' Is "Not Finished Yet" Archived 30 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, 28 April 2011
  33. ^ "Urban Joins And Soon The Darkness". Empire. 17 March 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  34. ^ Smith, Michael. "Filming 'Red' painful for Karl Urban". Tulsa World. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  35. ^ Weintraub, Steve 'Frosty' (19 April 2010). "Karl Urban Talks PRIEST and STAR TREK 2". Collider. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  36. ^ Trenholm, Richard. "What a 'Judge Dredd' show needs to learn from the Stallone film". CNET. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Karl Urban Nearly Didn't Return After Star Trek Into Darkness". Comicbook.com. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  38. ^ Goldberg, Matt (23 September 2011). "Karl Urban to Reprise His Role as "Vakko" for RIDDICK". Collider. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  39. ^ Debruge, Peter (20 December 2013). "Film Review: 'Walking With Dinosaurs'". Variety. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  40. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (12 December 2014). "New THE LOFT Trailer Takes Karl Urban and Wentworth Miller to the Height of Paranoia". Collider. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  41. ^ "Why Karl Urban Almost Didn't Return For Star Trek Beyond". CINEMABLEND. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  42. ^ "Why Karl Urban almost wasn't in Pete's Dragon, one of his best roles yet". The New Zealand Herald. 16 August 2016. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  43. ^ "'Thor: Ragnarok': Karl Urban on How He Was Convinced to Play Skurge". Comicbook.com. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  44. ^ Harvey, Dennis (26 October 2017). "Film Review: 'Acts of Vengeance'". Variety. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  45. ^ "'Hangman': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  46. ^ Knight, Jacob (16 May 2018). "BENT Review: Karl Urban Wants To Know Who Set Him Up". Birth.Movies.Death. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  47. ^ "Netflix's 'The Sea Beast' Rises from the Depths with Teaser, Cast & Date Reveal". Animation Magazine. 30 March 2022. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  48. ^ "Karl Urban: From Comanche Moon to Star Trek". IGN. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  49. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (11 December 2020). "'Ark: The Animated Series': Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh & Elliot Page Among Voice Cast Members In New Video Game-Inspired Show".
  50. ^ "Karl Urban's Star Trek Performance Moved Leonard Nimoy To Tears". Comicbook.com. Retrieved 3 September 2019.

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