Nicholas Woodeson

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Nicholas Woodeson (born 30 November 1949) is an English film, television and theatre actor. Since July 2014, he has been a member of Equity's national executive.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Sudan, the son of Frank Woodeson, a bank manager from Wiltshire, and Sylvia Woodeson (née Larkins), who was the daughter of a steeplejack from Glasgow and sister of William Larkins, the engraver and commercial artist. He lived as a child in Khartoum and then in Haifa, when his father was transferred by his bank to Israel.

He was sent to prep school in Sussex and then Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where he started performing as an attempt to escape from real life. He subsequently discovered that the British theatre establishment was just a larger version of the boarding schools that he'd been trying to escape from. He found himself in 1968 majoring in English at the University of Sussex, and doing student drama productions with Michael Attenborough, Jim Carter and Andy de la Tour, among others. He took part in the 1970 National Student Drama Festival. He was intending to do an MA, but instead went off to do a season in rep at Crewe Theatre, and then won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[1]


He left RADA by night train to join the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, to start work the next morning doing street theatre, pub shows and stage shows. That company included Julie Walters, Kate Fahy, Pete Postlethwaite, Bill Nighy, Nicholas Le Prevost and Kevin Lloyd, and was directed by Jonathan Pryce. He got married and moved to New York in 1976, where he worked in theatre, film and TV for the next five years. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981 and worked with them almost continuously for the next eight years. He was nominated for an Olivier Award for his work in David Lan's Flight and Michael Birch's adaptation of Sarcophagus. He finished by playing the eponymous hero in Deborah Warner's 1988 production of King John. He has frequently worked in the West End and on Broadway. He has had an association with Harold Pinter's work, playing Lenny in Peter Hall's 25th anniversary production of The Homecoming at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 1991, and in 2011 playing Max in The Homecoming at the RSC in Stratford. He played McCann in Sam Mendes' production of The Birthday Party at the National Theatre in 1994, and Goldberg in David Farr's 50th anniversary production of the play at the Lyric, Hammersmith in 2008. In 1999, he was directed by Pinter in Simon Gray's The Late Middle Classes. In 1995, he took over from Kenneth Cranham on Broadway in Stephen Daldry's landmark production of An Inspector Calls, and then came back to London to play The Inspector in the Garrick Theatre, a role he reprised at Wyndham's Theatre in 2009. On Broadway, he has also played Henry Straker in Man and Superman at the Circle in the Square (1979), for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Inspector Bones in David Leveaux's 2004 production of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, and Lord Burleigh in Phyllida Lloyd's 2009 production of Mary Stewart.


Woodeson's first film work was a role in Heaven's Gate, released in 1980. By chance, he spent more time on location in Montana than any other actor in that movie. He has also appeared in, among others, The Russia House (1990), The Pelican Brief (1993), The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) Titanic Town (1998), and most recently in the James Bond film, Skyfall.


Woodeson is a veteran television actor. His first network television work was playing a US marine in A Rumor of War (1980) starring Brad Davis. He played SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hoffman in the acclaimed BBC/HBO production Conspiracy (2001), starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth. He portrayed Harman Grisewood, Assistant Director General of the BBC, in the 2008 TV programme Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story.[2] He has guest starred on series such as Miami Vice, Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost, Foyle's War, and Poirot. In the two 2005/06 HBO/BBC TV series of Rome, he played Posca, the personal slave, confidant, and aide-de-camp of Julius Caesar. In 2010 he appeared as Alexander Grozin, president of the fictional Eastern European state of Turgisia, in DR television production of Borgen. In 2013, he played Dr. William Corcoran, a proponent of Lamarckism, in an episode of Ripper Street.[3] In 2014, he appeared as Volkov in the American miniseries The Assets,[4] and as Algernon Wyse in a BBC TV adaptation of E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia.[5] In 2016, Woodeson played the role of Reverend Matthew Denning in the BBC TV series The Living and the Dead.

Personal life[edit]

He is a dual US-UK citizen. He lives in London with his wife and stepdaughter.


  1. ^ Obituary: Hugh Cruttwell. By Claire Armitstead. Thursday 29 August 2002. The Guardian [1]
  2. ^ IMDB - Harman Grisewood (Character) from 'Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story (2008) (TV)
  3. ^ IMDB - "Ripper Street" Am I Not Monstrous?
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Cast announced for BBC One’s adaptation of EF Benson’s Mapp And Lucia". BBC. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 

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