Rupert Penry-Jones

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Rupert Penry-Jones
Rupert Penry-Jones in Persuasion (2007).jpg
Penry-Jones in October 2006
Born (1970-09-22) 22 September 1970 (age 48)
London, England
Years active1994–present
Dervla Kirwan (m. 2007)
Parent(s)Peter Penry-Jones
Angela Thorne

Rupert William Penry-Jones (born 22 September 1970) is an English actor, known for his roles as Adam Carter in the BBC One spy drama series Spooks, Clive Reader QC in the BBC One legal drama Silk, policeman DI Joseph Chandler in the ITV murder mystery series Whitechapel, and Mr. Quinlan in the FX horror series The Strain.

Early life[edit]

Penry-Jones was born in London, the son of Welsh actor Peter Penry-Jones and English actress Angela Thorne.[1] His brother, Laurence Penry-Jones, is an actor turned ambulance driver who is married to actress Polly Walker.[1]

On BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast in August 2010, it was revealed that Penry-Jones' maternal grandfather, William, had served with the Indian Army Medical Corps at the Battle of Monte Cassino and that his earlier ancestors had a long-standing connection with the Indian Army. Penry-Jones also discovered that he had Anglo-Indian ancestry from the early 19th century.[2]

Penry-Jones was educated at Dulwich College in Dulwich, London, until age 17 when he was enrolled at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, only to be expelled in his second year for being a bad influence. His bad influence was a result of a broken relationship, which Rupert stated he tried to recover from by "shagging everything in sight". Being dyslexic, he struggled at school, eventually leaving without A-levels.[3]


In 1995, he appeared with his mother on television in Cold Comfort Farm.[4]

He made his London stage debut at the Hackney Empire theatre in 1995 playing Fortinbras to Ralph Fiennes's Hamlet in an Almeida production of Hamlet.

He was cast as Richard in the premiere staging of Stephen Poliakoff's Sweet Panic at Hampstead Theatre in 1996. The following year he appeared in both The Paper Husband at Hampstead Theatre and as the upper-class Pip Thompson in a revival of Arnold Wesker's Chips with Everything on the Lyttelton stage at the Royal National Theatre.

In 1998, he created the role of the Boy in Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby at the Almeida Theatre. In 1999, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, playing the title role in Don Carlos at The Other Place theatre and Alcibiades in Timon of Athens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both productions transferred to the Barbican Centre in London in 2000, where his performance as Don Carlos won the Ian Charleson Award.

At the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, in 2001 he was cast as Robert Caplan in J.B. Priestley's thriller "time-play" Dangerous Corner opposite Dervla Kirwan, who played Olwen Peel. The production then transferred for a four-month run at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End.

From July to October 2003 at the National's Cottesloe Theatre he played the leading role of Louis XIV in Nick Dear's historical drama Power.

He returned to the theatre at the end of 2009 playing the role of Carl in Michael Wynne's new play The Priory at the Royal Court Theatre, London, from 19 November 2009 to 16 January 2010.

On television, he has played barrister Alex Hay in C4's ten-part serial North Square in 2000; Donald McLean in the BBC's four-part production of Cambridge Spies in 2003; and Grimani in Russell T. Davies' production of Casanova in 2005.

In 2004, he joined the cast in series 3 of the BBC's BAFTA-winning series Spooks. He played the lead role of section leader Adam Carter for four series before leaving the show in 2008. He won ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards for his role in Spooks in 2008.[5] He also went on to play the role of Captain Wentworth in ITV's adaptation of Persuasion.

In 2008, he starred with Bradley Whitford and Neve Campbell in Burn Up playing an oil executive who becomes embroiled in the politics surrounding global warming and oil stocks.

He played Richard Hannay in the BBC adaptation of The 39 Steps which was screened at Christmas 2008.

In 2009, he was cast as the lead in the unaired ABC pilot The Forgotten but was unceremoniously replaced when the pilot was picked up and replaced by Christian Slater. Penry-Jones was apparently devastated and proceeded to give a number of interviews in the UK in which he attacked the US television industry. He has since described American television as a "factory" and the producers as "disgusting".[citation needed]

In February 2009, he took the lead in an ITV drama, Whitechapel, a three-part thriller based on the copycat killings of Jack the Ripper. Whitechapel was the highest-performing new drama in 2009.[6] A second series of the show based around the Kray twins was broadcast in autumn 2010; the third series began in January 2012. The fourth and last series aired in September 2013, and no further series were commissioned due to poor ratings.

He was scheduled to appear alongside other celebrities in Soccer Aid 2010, but broke a bone in his knee during training, putting him in a plaster cast and ruling him out of the final match on 6 June 2010.[citation needed]

Penry-Jones was also cast opposite Maxine Peake in a legal drama Silk created by Peter Moffat. The show revolves around two barristers, played by Penry-Jones and Peake who are competing to become QCs. Series 2 aired in 2012 and Series 3 premiered on 24 February 2014.

He also joined the cast of the film A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet as Antoine. The film was directed by Alan Rickman.[7]

Penry-Jones is known to be very critical of the British television and film industry. He stated that Doctor Who is a "very good children's show... but has low production values...and is a pantomime". He also said the Harry Potter films are "shit". He admitted walking out of the first three films.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Penry-Jones married Irish actress Dervla Kirwan in August 2007 following a three-year engagement. They met in a theatre production, Dangerous Corner, in 2001.[1] They have two children.[9]


Year Film Role Notes
1994 Black Beauty Wild-Looking Young Man
1994 Fatherland SS Cadet Hermann Jost TV film
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Dick Hawk-Monitor TV film
1995 Absolutely Fabulous Boy at Party TV series (1 episode: "The End")
1996 Kavanagh QC Lt. Ralph Kinross TV series (1 episode: "The Burning Deck")
1996 Cold Lazarus militiaman/policeman TV mini-series (2 episodes)
1996 The Ring Gerhard von Gotthard TV film
1996 Faith in the Future Sam TV series (2 episodes)
1997 The Moth Stanley Thorman TV film
1997 Jane Eyre St John Rivers TV film
1997 Bent guard on road
1997 Food of Love head office staff
1998 The Tribe Dietrich
1998 Hilary and Jackie Piers
1998 Still Crazy young Ray
1998 The Student Prince The Prince TV film
1999 Virtual Sexuality Jake
2000 North Square Alex Hay TV series (10 episodes)
2001 Charlotte Gray Peter Gregory
2002 The Four Feathers Tom Willoughby
2002 A Family Man Tarquin
2003 Cambridge Spies Donald Maclean TV mini-series (4 episodes)
2003 Agatha Christie's Poirot Roddy Winter TV series (1 episode: "Sad Cypress")
2004–08 Spooks (MI-5) Adam Carter TV series (41 episodes: 2004–2008)
2005 Casanova Grimani TV mini-series (3 episodes)
2005 Match Point Henry
2006 Krakatoa: The Last Days Willem Beijerinck TV film
2007 Persuasion Captain Wentworth TV film
2007 Joe's Palace Richard Reece TV film
2008 Burn Up Tom TV mini-series (2 episodes)
2008 The 39 Steps Richard Hannay TV film
2009–13 Whitechapel DI Joseph Chandler TV series (4 series, 18 episodes, 2009–2013)
2011–14 Silk Clive Reader TV series (3 series, 18 episodes, 2011, 2012, 2014)
2011 Manor Hunt Ball Laurence pre-production (2010/11)
2012 Treasure Island Squire Trelawney TV mini-series (2 episodes)
2012 The Last Weekend Ollie TV film
2012 Red Tails Campbell
2014 A Little Chaos Antoine Nompar de Caumont
2014–2017 The Strain Mr. Quinlan TV series
2015, 2017 Black Sails Lord Thomas Hamilton TV series (6 episodes)
2015 Life in Squares Older Duncan Grant BBC TV
2015 Crown for Christmas King Maximillian Hallmark TV movie
2017 Pegasus Bridge Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin In production
2018 Stan Lee's Lucky Man Samuel Blake Season 3 on Sky 1
2018 Vita and Virginia Filming


  1. ^ a b c Jones, Alice (13 November 2009). "Rupert Penry-Jones: 'It's nice not to be chasing a bad guy'". The Independent. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are, Series 7, Rupert Penry-Jones".
  3. ^ Red Magazine,2010
  4. ^ "Casanova". Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  5. ^ Allen, Katie (6 October 2008). "Rankin and P. D. James pick up ITV3 awards". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on 9 April 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Most-watched TV shows of 2009". The Guardian. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  7. ^ "A LITTLE CHAOS".
  8. ^ [full citation needed] Red Magazine article, 2010.
  9. ^ McGrath, Nick (2012-07-08). "Dervla Kirwan: 'Who hasn't argued with their mother-in-law?'". The Daily Telegraph.


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