Sharlto Copley

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Sharlto Copley
Copley at the July 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International
Born (1973-11-27) November 27, 1973 (age 42)
Pretoria, South Africa
Nationality South African
Education St. Andrew's Preparatory School
Redhill School
Occupation Actor, producer, director
Years active 2006–present
Partner(s) Tanit Phoenix (2012-present)

Sharlto Copley (born November 27, 1973) is a South African actor, producer, and director who has produced and co-directed short films which have appeared at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as commercials and music videos. He is perhaps best known for playing the roles of Wikus van der Merwe in the Oscar-nominated science fiction film District 9,[1] Howling Mad Murdock in the 2010 adaptation of The A-Team, Agent C.M. Kruger in the science fiction film Elysium, James Corrigan in the science fiction horror film Europa Report and King Stefan in the dark fantasy adventure film Maleficent. He also played the titular character in the science fiction film Chappie, and currently plays Christian Walker in the TV series Powers.

Early life[edit]

Sharlto Copley was born in Pretoria and educated at St. Andrew's Preparatory School in Grahamstown and Redhill School in Morningside, Johannesburg.[2] His father is Dr. Bruce Copley, a former university professor,[2] currently a holistic educator/entertainer and multi-instrumentalist.[3] His mother, Linda Stocks-Copley, is a Christian Science Healer living in Cape Town.[citation needed] His brother, Donovan,[2] is the lead-singer of the Cape Town band Hotwater,[4][5] whose music has been featured on BBC World and whose song 'Bushfire' was used in advertisements by the Italian shoe manufacturer Primigi.[6] His sister, Marisa, is a dancer and fashion & costume designer.


A year after leaving high school, Copley met director Neill Blomkamp. Copley was 22 and Blomkamp was 16, and Copley provided Blomkamp with use of computers at his production company to assist the company with pitches for various projects and allow Blomkamp to further pursue his passion and talent for 3D animation and design.[7]

Copley starred in Peter Jackson's and Neill Blomkamp's District 9, where he played the lead role of Wikus van der Merwe,[8] an Afrikaner bureaucrat assigned to relocate a race of extraterrestrial creatures unexpectedly stranded on Earth. In the film, the aliens, popularly and derogatorily referred to as "prawns", must be moved from District 9, a military-guarded slum in Johannesburg, South Africa, to an internment camp outside the city. Copley improvised all of his dialogue in the film.[9]

In 2009 Copley won the Favorite Hero award at the IGN Summer Movie awards[10] and Best Performance of 2009[11] for his role in District 9.

In 2010 Copley produced, wrote and directed an insert for the South African Music Awards called "Wikus and Charlize", featuring fellow South African star Charlize Theron. The clip features Copley as Wikus attempting to track down Charlize Theron in Hollywood to help him present the Award for Best Afrikaans Pop album.[12]

Sharlto Copley as H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock in the The A-Team film.

Copley then starred alongside Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the feature film adaptation of The A-Team,[13] which was produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. Copley used a Southern American dialect for his portrayal of A-Team member H. M. Murdock, and employed other dialects, including Scottish, English, Australian, and his native South African, as part of the character's rapid-fire style. Dwight Schultz, who played Murdock in the original TV series, praised Copley's performance and said Copley was the only actor he knew of who was "true to his character."[14]

Copley guest co-hosted WWE Raw on 7 June 2010, along with his A-Team co-stars Bradley Cooper and Quinton Jackson.

In 2013, Copley played fictional astronaut James Corrigan in Europa Report, the story of a crew of international astronauts sent on a private mission to Jupiter's fourth moon. The same year, Copley portrayed Agent Kruger, the secondary antagonist in Elysium,[15] a science fiction film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.[16]

Copley played villain Adrian Pryce in Spike Lee's Oldboy, a remake of the 2003 South Korean film of the same name.[17] He also starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the 2014 Disney film Maleficent and played King Stefan, Princess Aurora's father, and provided the voice and motion capture performance for the film Chappie, also directed by Neill Blomkamp. Released on March 6, 2015, Chappie was Copley's first motion capture performance.

Copley was announced to star as Christian Walker in the upcoming TV series Powers.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Copley has been in a relationship with actress and fashion model Tanit Phoenix since January 2012.[19] In March 2015 Sharlto and Tanit got engaged to be married.[20] He resides alternately in Cape Town and Los Angeles.[21]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Yellow Soldier Short film
Alive in Joburg Sniper Short film
Also producer
2009 District 9 Wikus van der Merwe
2010 Wikus and Charlize Short film
Also producer, director, writer and editor
The A-Team Capt. H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdock
2013 Europa Report James Corrigan In select theaters and video-on-demand
Elysium Agent C.M. Kruger
Oldboy Adrian Pryce
Open Grave John (AKA Jonah Cooke) In select theaters and video-on-demand
2014 Maleficent King Stefan
The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King Orm Voice: English version
2015 Chappie Chappie
Hardcore Henry Jimmy
The Hollars Ron Post-production
2016 Free Fire[22] Vernon Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2015–present Powers Christian Walker
2016 Galaxy World of Alisa Leader of Robots (voice) American English dub

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
2009 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising Performer District 9 Nominated
IGN Movie Awards Best Performance Won
Favorite Summer Hero Won
Golden Schmoes Awards Best Actor of the Year Nominated
Breakthrough Performance of the Year 2nd place
2010 Empire Award Best Newcomer Nominated
International Cinephile Society Award Best Actor Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Scared-As-S**t Performance Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Best Breakthrough Performance - Male Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Actor Nominated
Scream Award Best Science Fiction Actor Nominated
Breakout Performance - Male Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actor - Sci-Fi Nominated


  1. ^ 2010 "MTV Movie Awards Nominees Announced; New Category for Horror" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2015-09-06. 
  2. ^ a b c Marks, Lisa (26 July 2010). "Interview with A-Team star Sharlto Copley". The Scotsman. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "Bruce Copley – Holistic Learning Adds Value" SKF Sweden Evolution Business and Technology Magazine article, 7 June 2006
  4. ^ Hotwater. (16 October 2008). Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  5. ^ Hotwater Official Site. Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 10 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Sharlto and Neill sitdown interview Part 1 on YouTube
  8. ^ Full cast and crew for District 9 (2009).
  9. ^ "District 9 director Neill Blomkamp". A.V. Club. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  10. ^ IGN Summer Movie Awards Favorite Hero. Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  11. ^ IGN Movies Best Performance of 2009. Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Wikus From District 9 Hunting Down a Different Beast – Charlize Theron!". DreadCentral. 
  13. ^ The A-Team starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Sharlto Copley & Quinton Rampage Jackson. (3 December 2010)
  14. ^ Schultz, Dwight (22 June 2010). "Dwight's opinion about the A-team movie". Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Child, Ben (13 December 2010). "Matt Damon in talks to star in Neill Blomkamp's Elysium". The Guardian (London). 
  16. ^ "'District 9' Director Neill Blomkamp Drops A Few Hints About His Next Project". 
  17. ^ Wales, George. (2 May 2012) Sharlto Copley will play Oldboy villain. Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Sharlto Copley Set As Lead Christian Walker In ‘Powers’, Michelle Forbes Is Retro Girl". Deadline. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Tanit, A-Team star set up home in US – Independent on Saturday |News. (1 July 2013). Retrieved on 22 September 2013.
  20. ^ "Tanit Phoenix". 2015-07-07. Retrieved 2015-09-06. 
  21. ^ Edmunds, Gayle (20 August 2010). "A-Team's Sharlto Copley soars". City Press. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  22. ^ "Sharlto Copley joins Ben Wheatley's Free Fire". Retrieved 2015-05-17. 

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