Mark Ryan (actor)

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Mark Ryan
Mark Ryan at the New York premiere of Transformers: Age of Extinction
Occupation(s)Actor, author, singer, action director
Years active1978–present

Mark Ryan is an English actor, author, singer, and action director. He portrayed Mr. Gates in the Michael Bay/Starz production of the pirate show Black Sails, Nasir in the British TV series Robin of Sherwood, and is known for his work for the Transformers film franchise.

Early life[edit]

Before his career in the entertainment industry, Ryan worked as a member of the British Army's Intelligence Corps, attached to DSF (Director Special Forces) and later as a Licensed Private Investigator in the United States.[1]


Stage and screen[edit]


Ryan appeared in several major musicals in London's West End, spending four years in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita in the role of Magaldi and then playing Ché under the direction of Hal Prince.[1] He went on to appear in a cameo in the film version of the musical directed by Alan Parker. He left Evita to play Mac in the SAS action film Who Dares Wins for director Ian Sharp.

Ryan played the character of Nasir for the British TV series Robin of Sherwood on which he worked for three years. Nasir was the first Muslim member of the Merry Men - a concept that carried over to later productions such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the 2006 Robin Hood TV series.

In 1986, Ryan appeared in the title role in the musical Elmer Gantry at London's Gate Theatre[2] and followed that with a national tour of the hit show Guys and Dolls, playing the part of Sky Masterson. He returned to the West End to play Neville Landless in the Tony Award-winning musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the same year recorded a duet with singer Tom Jones on his album Matador. He also appeared in the video to the Gary Moore single Over the Hills and Far Away from the Wild Frontier album.

In 1993, Ryan toured Europe and Britain playing Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro and Leporello in Don Giovanni, both for Music Theatre, London directed by Nick Broadhurst, followed by a series of open-air concert performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[1]

In 1994, Ryan was picked by swordmaster Bob Anderson to assist as sword coach to Richard Gere and Ben Cross in the film First Knight. Director Jerry Zucker also asked him to play John Challenger during the filming.[1]

Before moving to Los Angeles in 1997 Ryan guest starred in many British TV shows including The Bill, Harry, Dempsey and Makepeace, Casualty and Peak Practice. He appeared in films such as Doomsday Gun and Nil By Mouth. While establishing himself in the US he guest-starred in such TV shows as Frasier, General Hospital, Conan the Adventurer, Passions, Nuremberg and The Young and the Restless. He worked as fight coordinator and swordmaster on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne and played Gordon in San Diego's Globe Theatre production of Neville's Island.[1]


In 2003, Ryan worked as a swordmaster and fight director on the film King Arthur directed by Antoine Fuqua. His duties included consulting with the director and writer regarding designing all aspects of the knights fighting styles, training all the principal actors including Keira Knightley, Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgård, planning and choreographing their action.

In 2000, Ryan played U.S. theatres with original Monty Python member Eric Idle, performing comedy roles in Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python at venues including New York's Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. The team later recorded the show exclusively for the Comedy Channel. He then went on to play John Dickinson in the Los Angeles stage production of 1776 directed by Gordon Hunt.[3] Ryan began working on the 2007 film Transformers during filming as the on-set voice of several different robots. This work continued throughout filming and into editing, before the actual casting of voice-over talent. He was then cast as the voice of the character Bumblebee. Ryan also voices Ironhide and Hoist for the Activision video game based on the film. When Ryan was in the studio recording his lines for the actors on set, Michael Bay used the lines Ryan recorded for Bumblebee in the film. But Ryan didn't know that it would be used, and if so he said he would have used a different younger voice.[4] He returned to voice Bumblebee as well as Jetfire for the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the Activision Game based on the film. In early 2009, Ryan continued voice work on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen working directly with Michael Bay and Alex Kurtzman almost right up to the release of the film.


In May 2010 Ryan returned to work on Transformers: Dark of the Moon, once again as Bumblebee. Work on this third Michael Bay Blockbuster continued at locations across the US and also at Kennedy Space Center - Cape Canaveral, Florida. The film was shot in 3D with post-production voice-work carrying on into the spring of 2011. Ryan also completed Bumblebee lines for the Universal Studios theme park ride based on the films in the autumn of 2011.

In July 2013 Ryan again joined the Transformers franchise, voicing Lockdown in the fourth installment, Transformers: Age of Extinction. In 2014 the film broke worldwide records earning over $1.08 billion in box office receipts. Ryan was nominated in 2015 for the award for best vocal performance in a supporting role in a feature film by Behind The Voice Actors.[5] The character of Lockdown has resonated widely within the Transformers community:

"Lockdown is easily one of the series' most memorable and interesting Transformer characters. A Cybertronian bounty hunter armed with advanced weaponry and a ship full of otherworldly beasts, the villain is unimpressed by ongoing Autobot/ Decepticon feuding – adding unique perspective to the series' two-sided conflict. After Megatron's repeated attempts at enslaving Earth, Lockdown's ambivalence toward humankind is a refreshing change of pace – especially given the antagonist's unwavering focus on his assigned mission and unconcerned with the ramifications" (Screen Rant, 2014).[6]

In late 2008, Ryan launched a musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, narrated by Ray Winstone. He composed, sang and produced the tracks with Robb Vallier, who worked on Spamalot. He directed the video for the song "Women" filmed especially for the website and featuring Jenn Korbee, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Katie Boeck.

In January 2014 Ryan began playing Mr. Gates in the Michael Bay/Starz production of the pirate show Black Sails and appeared in the first eight episodes of the show which broke all previous viewer records for Starz. The role earned Ryan critical praise for his portrayal of the loyal and even-handed pirate quartermaster:

"Massive credit goes out to Ryan for fully bringing out every quality in Gates this season, from the attractive natural charisma of the character to his weary, war-torn demeanor in the quieter moments when Gates is contemplating his situation. The second season will surely miss him."(Sound on Sight,(2014).[7]

"If there is a downside to the episode, it is the absence of Mr. Gates, the ship's Quartermaster and Flint's oldest friend. The hardest thing to watch last season was his murder by Flint, however regrettably it was done. Gates was the soul of soulless men. Someone who knew exactly who he was and what he did for a living. If we are lucky, his ghost will haunt Flint's psyche in the future. One of his last monologues is often quoted but I will end with it here because it not only sums up the man, but the future of all the souls that hit the beach of New Providence, Nassau: "There are no legacies in this life. No monuments, no histories. Just the water. It pays us and then it claims us. Swallows us whole as if we've never been here at all." (Sinful Celluloid, (2015).[8]

He has guest-starred in such TV shows as JAG, Real Time with Bill Maher and Alias and appeared in films such as Charlie's Angel, Convicted, The Thirst and The Prestige.

In mid-2009 Ryan directed the teaser/trailer for Blood Type, which was written by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan of Mythwood Films. The trailer was filmed on location at the Atlantis Bookshop in London and continued at the 12th century estate of Prebendal, Thame, Oxfordshire. The promo trailer for the project was accepted into the BAFTA Members' Short Film Showcase for March 2010.[9] He was also featured on the LCD Soundsystem video Pow Pow directed by David Ayer.

In late 2012 he recorded a cameo appearance in the NBC comedy show Community playing Constable Edmund, a new companion to Inspector Spacetime in an homage to BBC TV show Doctor Who. The show aired in early 2013.

In 2015 Ryan appeared in the third season of Netflix' Cold War drama series Granite Flats,[citation needed] as well as starring in independent films STREET: The Movie and Any Bullet Will Do.

Literary work[edit]

Ryan is an author and has written for DC Comics and Harper Collins as well as writing several screenplays. Ryan was the co-creator, along with artist Chesca Potter, of the Greenwood Tarot, a variation on the standard tarot deck involving pre-historic European imagery.[10]

In November 2008, the online publisher ComicMix began running Ryan's The Pilgrim, a graphic novel inspired by factual events during the Second World War and concerning modern psychic warfare research and drawn by comic artist Mike Grell. It is believed that elements of the story are based on Ryan's experiences during his service in the Intelligence Corps and Special Forces community. In early 2009 ComicMix announced an agreement with IDW Publishing for hardcopy publishing rights of its online projects and IDW announced the publication of The Pilgrim commencing in April 2010.[citation needed]

During London Book Fair in April 2009, specialist publisher Eddison-Sadd presented the Wildwood Tarot, based on the collector status of the artwork by Chesca Potter: Greenwood Tarot with accompanying guide book [10] authored by Ryan. The Wildwood Tarot is an updated and reworked version of Chesca Potter and Mark [10] Ryan's original tarot concept, co-written with John Matthews with artwork by illustrator, Will Worthington.[11] Wildwood Tarot was launched at the Atlantis Bookstore in London in April 2011. Wildwood Tarot remained as the bestselling Tarot and Hottest Bestseller on during the spring of 2011 and has now been translated into German, Dutch, Italian and French. The Wildwood Tarot is published in the US by Sterling Publishing.[12] In 2017, a workbook for The Wildwood Tarot was released, under the name Wild Magic: The Wildwood Tarot Workbook.[13]

On 15 June 2015 Mark Ryan's autobiography Hold Fast[1] was published, detailing his life, in which he has combined his acting career with a secret existence as an operative of British Military Intelligence.

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2015 Ryan was nominated for the award for best vocal performance in a supporting role in a feature film by Behind The Voice Actors for voicing Lockdown in Transformers: Age of Extinction.[5] The award eventually went to Stanley Tucci for his work in Mr. Peabody & Sherman.[citation needed]

In 2021 Mark Ryan and Richard Atkinson won the award for best producer for the film Penitent [14] at the Cannes World Film Festival.[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Who Dares Wins Mac
1989 The Phantom of the Opera Mott
1995 First Knight Challenger
2000 Charlie's Angels Fencing Opponent
2006 The Prestige Captain
2007 Transformers Bumblebee (voice)
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee / Jetfire (voice)
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Bumblebee (voice)
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Lockdown (voice)
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Bulldog / The Lieutenant (voice)
2018 Peterloo Manchester & Salford Yeomanry
2020 The Reckoning Peck


Year Title Role Notes
1984–1986 Robin of Sherwood Nasir
1985 The Corsican Brothers Bernardo de Guidice TV film
1986 Dempsey and Makepeace Jimmy Episode: "Extreme Prejudice"
1989 Crossbow Barbarian Episode: "The Lost City"
1995 Peak Practice Chris Palmer Episode: "Light at the End of the Tunnel"
Harry DI Small Episode No. 2.5
1996 Casualty Dave Newman Episode: "Flesh and Blood"
1993–1997 The Bill Franks
John Randall
Micky Dale
Episodes: "A Duty of Care"
"Somebody's Home"
1998 Frasier Winston Episode: "Where Every Bloke Knows Your Name"
1998 Conan the Adventurer Barkeep Episode: "Red Sonya"
2000 Nuremberg Maj. Airey Neave TV mini-series
2001 JAG Visiting Reporter #1 Episode: "The Iron Coffin"
2005 Alias Cooney Episode: "Authorised Personnel Only: Part 2"
2013 Community Constable Edmund Episode: "Conventions of Space and Time"
2014 Black Sails Hal Gates
2015 Granite Flats Benjy Episodes: "The Threads That Were Spun Are Gathered"
"Form and Union and Plan"


Year Title Role Notes
2016 Robin of Sherwood: The Knights Of The Apocalypse Nasir Written by Tony Lee

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2007 Transformers: The Game Bumblebee / Ironhide / Hoist (voice)
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee (voice)


Year Title Notes
2000 The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne Episode: "The Victorian Candidate"
2002 The Bacchae Stunt coordinator

Miscellaneous crew[edit]

Year Title Notes
1995 First Knight Assistant Swordmaster
2000 The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne Swordmaster
2002 The Bacchae
2004 King Arthur Fight Director / Swordmaster


  1. ^ a b c d e f "'Hold Fast - A Hollywood Pirate's Tale' by Mark Ryan and John Matthews". Mythwood Books. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Film Reference". Film Reference. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Review '1776". Variety. 7 September 2001. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Movies on the Blog". Movies-andtheblog.blogspot. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Best Male Vocal Performance in a Feature Film in a Supporting Role". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  6. ^ Kendrick, Ben (26 June 2014). "'Transformers: Age of Extinction' Review". Screen Rant.
  7. ^ Coletti, Sean (17 March 2014). "Black Sails, Ep. 1.08: "VIII." has just enough firepower to hold interest". Sound on Sight.
  8. ^ "'Black Sails Recap: IX". Sinful Celluloid. 25 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Membership Short Film Showcase". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Ryan, Mark; Potter, Chesca (1996). The Greenwood Tarot. ISBN 1855383845.
  11. ^ "Guest Post: Interview with John Matthews on The Wildwood Tarot". Patheos. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  12. ^ The Wildwood Tarot: Wherein Wisdom Resides. Sterling Publishing. 7 June 2011. ISBN 978-1402781063.
  13. ^ "Wild Magic: The Wildwood Tarot Workbook". Eddison Books. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Penitent". Webster Films. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Winners 2021". Cannes World Film Festival. Retrieved 1 April 2022.

External links[edit]