Russell George Tovey (born 14 November 1981) is an English actor. He is known for playing the role of werewolf George Sands in the BBC's supernatural comedy-drama Being Human, Rudge in both the stage and film versions of The History Boys, Steve in the BBC Three sitcom Him & Her, Kevin Matheson in the HBO original series Looking and its subsequent series finale television film Looking: The Movie, Titanic midshipman Alonzo Frame in the Doctor Who episode "Voyage of the Damned" (a role he reprised in a cameo in "The End of Time: Part Two") and as Henry Knight in BBC TV series Sherlock. He has also starred as Harry Doyle in the drama-thriller series Quantico on the ABC network.
Tovey was born on 14 November 1981 in Billericay, Essex. He is the younger of two children of Carole Tovey (formerly Webb) and George Tovey, who ran a Romford-based coach service taking passengers from Essex to Gatwick Airport. Tovey has an older brother, Daniel. He attended Harold Court School in Harold Wood and Shenfield High School. As a boy Tovey said, he "was an avid collector of various things and prone to participating in fads."
His parents supported his efforts, taking him to archaeological digs and museums, buying him a metal detector and going to conventions for mineralogists. For a time he wanted to be a history teacher, but after seeing Dead Poets Society, The Goonies, and Stand By Me he decided to be an actor. For a time during his teens he worked as a kitchen assistant in Billericay's King's Head pub.
Tovey began his career as a child actor. He joined a local drama club and garnered the attention of a talent agent. He worked from the age of 11 and missed so much school that his father suggested he should cut back, but his mother persuaded his father to let their son continue. His TV career started in 1994, when he was cast in Mud, a children's series broadcast on CBBC.
He left secondary school at the age of 16 and started a BTEC in performing arts at Barking College. He was expelled after a year for refusing a role in the school play in favour of a paying acting job. He acted in plays in Chichester under the direction of Debra Gillett, wife of Patrick Marber. He met Marber through Gillett, and Marber cast him in the play Howard Katz at the National Theatre. He also performed in His Girl Friday and His Dark Materials there.
In 2004, he took the role of Rudge in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys at the Royal National Theatre as well as touring to Broadway, Sydney, Wellington and Hong Kong and playing the role in the radio and film adaptations. He originally auditioned for the role of Crowther but agreed to act the part of Rudge after Bennett promised to beef up the role. Insecure because he had not attended drama school as many of his peers had, he enrolled in numerous workshops and readings offered by the National Theatre.
In spring 2007, Tovey had a recurring role in BBC Three comedy Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, playing Rob's producer, Ben. He played Midshipman Alonso Frame, in 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned". Russell T. Davies, the show's executive producer and lead writer, had suggested Tovey as a future replacement for David Tennant, before it was announced that the Eleventh Doctor would be played by Matt Smith. Tovey reprised his role as Midshipman Alonso Frame in the 2009-10 Doctor Who Christmas special, "The End of Time".
Tovey played werewolf George Sands, one of three supernatural housemates in the drama Being Human. The pilot premiered on BBC Three on 18 February 2008. A six-part series was commissioned with the first episode broadcast on 25 January 2009. Tovey left the regular cast of the show at the start of the fourth season on 5 February 2012. In November 2012 AudioGO Ltd released an audiobook version of Mark Michalowski's Being Human tie-in novel Chasers, which is narrated by Tovey.
In a 2008 interview in Attitude, Tovey expressed his desire to play darker roles: "really dark, fucked-up characters... like drag queens, rent boys, someone who has been abused, a rapist", though noting that he does not consider himself "fucked-up".
In March 2009, the actor played a leading role in A Miracle at the Royal Court Theatre as Gary Trudgill, a British soldier returning to Norfolk from abroad. On 8 March 2009 he presented the Award for Best Actress to Margaret Tyzack for her performance in The Chalk Garden at the Laurence Olivier Awards in Grosvenor House.
In 2009, Tovey worked on the film Huge and starred in two television pilots: Young, Unemployed and Lazy (a BBC Three sitcom), renamed to Him & Her in 2010, and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (part of Comedy Showcase), a Channel 4 comedy with Spike Jonze and Will Arnett, written by David Cross and Shaun Pye.
In 2011, he became the voice over/narrator for the BBC Three show Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and its spinoffs, which ran for five series up to July 2015. Tovey narrated every episode aired.
Tovey played Budgie, one of Gavin's friends, in the BBC comedy-drama Gavin & Stacey. In January 2012, he appeared in the British crime drama Sherlock, playing Henry Knight in the episode "The Hounds of Baskerville". He had a lead role in the ITV sitcom The Job Lot which aired in 2013 and is set in a busy unemployment bureau in the West Midlands.
In 2013, Tovey signed on to appear in the American television series Looking, about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco. Its 8-episode first season broadcast on HBO in 2014. Tovey was promoted to series regular for the second season.
Also in 2015, Tovey made his first of many live appearances for arts and entertainment company Pin Drop Studio, reading a short story to an audience followed by an interview by Simon Oldfield.
In April 2017, Tovey returned to the Royal National Theatre to appear in Marianne Elliot's revival of the Tony Kushner play Angels in America, opposite Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane.
In September 2017, it was revealed that Tovey would be voicing Ray Terrill / The Ray, a reporter who gains light-based powers after being exposed to a genetic light bomb, in the animated web series Freedom Fighters: The Ray on CW Seed. Tovey appeared in "Crisis on Earth-X", the Arrowverse crossover event between Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.
Tovey is also an author, playwright and screenwriter. He has written three plays (all unperformed as of August 2010), and one of his short stories was published in women's magazine Company. He also wrote a short film, Victor and as of August 2010 was seeking funding to produce the picture.
Tovey collects contemporary art, which he got into at the age of 21 when his parents bought him a Tracey Emin print that he admired called Dog Brains. Aside from several works by Emin, his collection now also includes works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Jamian Juliano Villani, Shannon Ebner, Rebecca Warren, Joyce Pensato, Amoako Boafo, Walter Price, Louis Fratino, Doron Langberg, Carmen Herrera, Rose Wylie, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Lisa Brice, and Matias Faldbakken among others. Although he has been buying art since he was in his 20s, he considers himself to have been "properly collecting" since about 2010, with his collection now consisting of over 300 works of art. Tovey is passionate about supporting emerging and mid-career artists with his collecting.
Since 2018, Tovey has hosted a podcast called Talk Art with his friend, the gallerist Robert Diament of Carl Freedman gallery, in which the pair talk to their favourite artists, curators and art enthusiasts. In the over 120 episodes, guests have included Ryan Gander, Rose Wylie, Zawe Ashton and Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Tovey is openly gay. During his adolescent years, Tovey's family had difficulty accepting his sexual orientation. Although he says he came out to himself when he was 15 or 16, he came out to his parents when he was 18. Tovey and his father subsequently had a serious disagreement, with his father suggesting that, had he known earlier, he would have asked Tovey to take hormones or undergo some other medical treatment to "fix the problem". Tovey says his parents were deeply concerned about the possibility he might contract HIV, which might have contributed to the disagreement. The birth of Tovey's nephew Nathan in October 2004 helped them mend their relationship.
In 2015, Tovey was the subject of public criticism from the LGBT+ press regarding comments he made about effeminate gay men. In his interview with Tom Lamont of The Observer, the actor stated that his schooling made him feel as though he "had to toughen up", going on to say "If I'd have been able to relax, prance around and sing in the street, I might be a different person now." Much of the criticism centred on what was perceived to be a passive criticism of effeminate gay men, with Tovey saying that "I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down the path." Tovey later apologised for the remarks and suggested they did not reflect his views.
Tovey was reported to be dating rugby coach Steve Brockman beginning in early 2016. They became engaged in February 2018 but separated in June of the same year. They reconciled in 2019, and as of July 2021, are still together.
|2001||The Emperor's New Clothes||Recruit|
|2006||The History Boys||Peter Rudge|
|2009||In Passing||Henry Travers||Short film|
|2012||Grabbers||Dr. Adam Smith|
|The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists||The Albino Pirate||Voice|
|Muppets Most Wanted||Delivery Man|
|Moomins on the Riviera||Moomintroll||Voice|
|The Lady in the Van||Young Man with Earring|
|2017||The Hippopotamus||Rupert Keynes|
|2019||The Good Liar||Steven|
|TBA||Night of the Lotus||Charlie||In post-production|
|Text for You|
|1994||Mud||Bill Bailey||All episodes|
|1998||The Mrs Bradley Mysteries||Stable Boy||Episode: "Speedy Death"|
|2000||Hope and Glory||Gary Bailey||Episode 2.2|
|2001||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Lionel Marshall||Episode: "Evil Under the Sun"|
|The Bill||Tyro Shaw||2 episodes|
|Holby City||Jerome Hibbert||Episode: "Borrowed Time"|
|2002||Ultimate Force||Weasel||Episode: "The Killing House"|
|Silent Witness||Josh Palmer||Episode: "Kith and Kill" (2 parts)|
|The Bill||Kieran Elcott||Episode: "068"|
|2003||William and Mary||Aaron Patterson||Episode 4|
|2005||Holby City||Adam Spengler||Episode: "Soft Centred"|
|Messiah IV: The Harrowing||Robbie McManus||3 episodes|
|My Family and Other Animals||Leslie Durrell||Television film|
|2007–2009||Gavin & Stacey||Budgie||4 episodes|
|2007||Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive||Ben||5 episodes|
|Doctor Who||Midshipman Alonso Frame||Episode: "Voyage of the Damned"|
|2008–2012||Being Human||George Sands||24 episodes|
|2008||Ashes to Ashes||Marcus Johnstone||Episode: "Episode 5"|
|Mutual Friends||Estate Agent||Episode 5|
|Little Dorrit||John Chivery||10 episodes|
|2009||Agatha Christie's Marple||PC Terence Reed||Episode: "Murder is Easy"|
|The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret||Dave Mountford||Pilot|
|2010||Doctor Who||Midshipman Alonso Frame||Episode: "The End of Time"|
|2010–2013||Him & Her||Steve Marshall||25 episodes|
|2010–2011||Doctor Who Confidential||Narrator||14 episodes|
|2011–2015||Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents||Narrator|
|2012||Sherlock||Henry Knight||Episode: "The Hounds of Baskerville"|
|2013||Talking to the Dead||DS Huw Brydon||2 episodes|
|The Dog Rescuers||Narrator||10 episodes|
|What Remains||Michael Jenson||4 episodes|
|2013–2015||The Job Lot||Karl Lyndhurst||18 episodes|
|2014–2015||Looking||Kevin Matheson||15 episodes|
|2015||Drunk History||King Charles II||Episode 6|
|Banished||James Freeman||7 episodes|
|2016||Looking: The Movie||Kevin Matheson||Television film|
|The Comic Strip Presents... Red Top||Andy Coulson||Television film|
|The Night Manager||Simon Ogilvey||Episode 1|
|2016–2018||Quantico||Harry Doyle||Series regular|
|2018||Shane the Chef||Shane||All episodes|
|2017||Queers: More Anger||Phil||BBC4 TV monologue|
|The Flash||Ray Terrill / The Ray||Episode: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3"|
|Legends of Tomorrow||Episode: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4"|
|2019||The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C||Himself||Channel 4's Great British Bake Off Special for Stand Up To Cancer – Series 2, Episode 2|
|2019||Years and Years||Daniel Lyons||Main role (4 episodes)|
Nominated — Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
|2019||Supergirl||Ray Terrill / The Ray||Uncredited; Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 1"|
|2020||Flesh and Blood||Jake||4 episodes|
|2017–2018||Freedom Fighters: The Ray||Ray Terrill / The Ray||Animated series|
|2021||The Picture of Dorian Gray||Basil Hallward||Online production|
|2000||The Recruiting Officer||Chichester Festival Theatre||Chichester|
|2001||Howard Katz||Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National Theatre||London|
|2002||Plasticine||Spira / Boy Having Sex||Royal Court Theatre||London|
|2003||Henry V||Boy||Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre||London|
|His Girl Friday||Ralph Sweeney||London|
|2003–2004||His Dark Materials||Roger Parslow||London|
|2004–2006||The History Boys||Peter Rudge||Lyttleton Theatre, Royal National Theatre||London|
|2005||The Laramie Project||Gil Engen||Sound Theatre|
|2005–2006||Hergé's Adventures of Tintin||Tintin||Barbican Arts Centre||London|
|2006||The History Boys||Peter Rudge||Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts||Hong Kong|
|Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway||New York|
|2007||A Respectable Wedding||The Bridegroom||Young Vic||London|
|2008||The Sea||Billy Hallercut||Theatre Royal Haymarket||London|
|2009||A Miracle||Gary Trudgill||Royal Court Theatre||London|
|2012||Sex With a Stranger||Adam||Trafalgar Studios||London|
|2014||The Pass||Jason||Royal Court Theatre|
|2015||A View from the Bridge||Rodolpho||Lyceum Theatre||New York|
|2017||Angels in America||Joe Pitt||Lyttelton Theatre, Royal National Theatre||London|
|2018||The Lover / The Collection||The Milkman / Bill||Harold Pinter Theatre|
|2020||Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf||Nick||Booth Theatre, Broadway||New York|
Radio and readings
|2006||The History Boys||Peter Rudge|
|2009||The Government Inspector||Gendarme|
|The Admirable Crichton||Crichton|
|Last Night, Another Soldier||Briggsy|
|The Richest Man in Britain||Dom|
Tovey has read several books for audio, notably a 2017 performance of The Picture of Dorian Gray. He is the narrator for the 20th anniversary edition audiobook of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, released in 2015. Also, since 2016, he is the reader for audiobooks of Liz Pichon's Tom Gates book series, starting from book 10, Super Good Skills (Almost...), taking over from Rupert Grint.
- "20 Questions With...Russell Tovey." What's On Stage. 3 January 2006. Accessed 22 March 2011. Archived 2 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Weaver, Matthew (3 March 2015). "Russell Tovey says sorry for effeminate actor comments". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
- Being Human Returns to BBC America 24 July
- Stanhope, Kate (3 June 2016). "'Quantico' Enlists 'Looking' Grad Russell Tovey as Season 2 Regular (Exclusive)". HollywoodReporter.com. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
- Gordon, Byrony (17 March 2009). "Russell Tovey interview: A History Boy with a big future". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Randall, Lee. "Actor Russell Tovey graduated to Dickens, Doctor Who and Gavin & Stacey. Now starring as a modern-day werewolf in a new TV sitcom, he's headed for the top of the class." The Scotsman. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
- Mclean, Craig. "More Mr Nice Guy: Why Everyone Loves Russell Tovey." The Independent. 5 September 2010.
- Russell Tovey at the Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 5 November 2006
- The History Boys 2004, Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 17 October 2006
- "The History Boys". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2006.
- "The History Boys: More is more". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2006.
- "Davies suggests next Doctor Who". BBC News Online. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
- Martin, Daniel (13 February 2009). "Daniel Martin looks at how online fans rescued BBC3's Being Human". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "BBC Three presents Being Human". UK: BBC Three. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "Being Human commissioned for BBC Three". UK: BBC Three. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
- "Being Human death was 'horrendous' says Crichlow". 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- "Being Human: Chasers (Unabridged)". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- "About a Boy". Attitude. January 2008. ISSN 1353-1875., cited in UK actor Russell Tovey – Talented, gorgeous, and gay to boot!!! Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, After Elton, 14 January 2008
- Billington, Michael (5 March 2009). "Theatre review: A Miracle / Royal Court, London". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- "A Miracle". Royal Court Theatre. March 2009. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- "Olivier Goss: What We Heard in the Ballroom???". What's on Stage. 8 March 2009. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- "Tyzack and Jacobi scoop top honours". Official London Theatre. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- UK comedy Huge starts shooting in London, Screen Daily, 17 June 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009
- Holmwood, Leigh (12 May 2009). "Russell Tovey to star in BBC3 sitcom that never leaves the bedroom". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
- "Him & Her". 10 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "Spike Jonze to star in C4 comedy". Broadcast Now. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
- "Comedy Showcase". 27 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Film Production". Beautiful Train Ltd. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "On the Job Program". Palm Springs Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2009.
- Reid-Smith, Tris (26 April 2012). "Russell Tovey to star in new ITV sitcom". Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Russell Tovey Joins Gay-Themed HBO Dramedy 'Looking' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Andreeva, Nellie (26 February 2014). "HBO Dramedy 'Looking' Renewed For Second Season, Trio Promoted To Regular". Deadline. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (12 March 2014). "Jimmy McGovern announces Australian convict drama Banished". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- Ausiello, Michael (22 September 2017). "Arrowverse Crossover: Quantico's Russell Tovey Cast as Gay Superhero". TVLine. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- Agard, Chancellor (22 September 2017). "Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends unite for 'Crisis on Earth X' crossover". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- Mitchell, Robert (9 April 2018). "Russell Tovey, Jim Carter Confirmed For Bill Condon's 'The Good Liar'". Variety. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- "2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards: From Taylor Swift to Luke Evans". Attitude. Stream Publishing Limited. 1 December 2020. Archived from the original on 2 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
- "Actor Russell Tovey Takes Us Inside his Art Collection". Artnet News. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- Adam, Georgina (13 June 2020). "Russell Tovey: 'Art has become a huge part of my life'". www.ft.com. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- "Actor/ Collector Russell Tovey To Guest Curate Margate Now Arts Festival". Artlyst. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- Felder, Rachel (19 February 2020). "There Are No Pictures, but This Art Podcast Is Thriving". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- Sawyer, Miranda (22 September 2019). "Russell Tovey: 'Art is for everyone. It will change you, it will outlive you'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- Weaver, Matthew (3 March 2015). "Russell Tovey says sorry for effeminate actor comments". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
- Lamont, Tom (1 March 2015). "Russell Tovey: 'I was a scared, skinny little rat. Then I hit the gym…'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- Dosani, Rishma (21 June 2018). "Russell Tovey splits from Steve Brockman just months after confirming engagement". The Metro. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- "Howard Katz". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
- Plasticine by Vassily Sigarev, Nick Hern Books, 2002 ISBN 978-1-85459-690-1
- "Henry V". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
- "His Dark Materials Part I 2003–04". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
- "His Girl Friday". Retrieved 24 November 2006.
- "Hergé's Adventures of Tintin". The Stage. 16 December 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "The Big Brecht Fest I – The Jewish Wife / A Respectable Wedding". The Stage. 5 April 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "The Sea". The Stage. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "A View From the Bridge - Broadway | Tickets | Broadway". Broadway.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- "Saturday Play: The Admirable Crichton". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Newfangle episode 1 of 6". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Saturday Play: Last Night, Another Soldier". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
- "The Richest Man in Britain Episode 3". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Russell Tovey.|