Simon Jones (actor)
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27 July 1950 |
Charlton Park, Wiltshire England
Simon Jones (born 27 July 1950) is an English actor. He is best known for his multiple portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams' 1979 novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Jones first portrayed the character on radio in 1978 and again on television in 1981. Jones also featured in the film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) in a cameo role. He is also known for his portrayal of Donald Shellhammer in Miracle on 34th Street (1994), and for his multiple appearances on the Broadway stage.
Life and career
Jones appeared in various TV series, including Brideshead Revisited (in which he played the Earl of Brideshead, or "Bridey", heir to the Marquess of Marchmain), and the second series of Blackadder (playing Sir Walter Raleigh). His films have included Club Paradise, Privates on Parade, Miracle on 34th Street and The Devil's Own.
Jones studied at King's College, Taunton before he studied at Cambridge University where he was a member of the Footlights and met Douglas Adams. This led to Jones being cast in Out of the Trees and later The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The latter project, a 1978 radio broadcast, would be the first of Jones' several portrayals of Arthur Dent; Adams claimed to Jones that he wrote the part of Dent with Jones in mind.and the film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. In The Meaning of Life Jones had a minor role as one of the guests at the dinner party. He has also appeared in some of the solo film projects of the members of Monty Python: American Friends, Brazil and 12 Monkeys.
Jones has appeared in several Broadway plays, including The Real Thing, as Max (1985), Benefactors, as Colin (1985), Getting Married, as Reginald Bridgenorth (1991), Private Lives, as Elyot Chase (1992), The Real Inspector Hound, as Moon, and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, as Hamlet, which played together in (1992), The School for Scandal, as Joseph Surface (1995), Ring Round the Moon, as Romainville (1999) and Waiting in the Wings, as Perry Lascoe (1999). In 2009 he appeared in Blithe Spirit, as Dr. Bradman, with Angela Lansbury and Rupert Everett. Off-Broadway he has a long list of credits, and was nominated for the 1990 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for his role in Privates on Parade.
In Regional theatre at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Jones starred as Christopher Gore in the American premier of Brian Friel's The Home Place in late 2007. He returned there in late 2008 to portray C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands.
Jones is also a voice actor and audiobook presenter, with more than 70 titles to his credit. Among them are:
- The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul for Simon and Schuster Audioworks for the US market
- Star Trek: Cacophony, playing Lt. Commander Stewart Mulligan in an original "Captain Sulu Adventures" audio programme, again for Simon and Schuster
- The Salmon of Doubt, for New Millennium Audio
- Douglas Adams at the BBC, for BBC Audio
- The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud: The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, Ptolemy's Gate, The Ring of Solomon
- A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullins, which won the Audio Publishers Association's 2006 Audie Award for Unabridged Fiction.
- And Another Thing..., the sixth installment of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, written by Eoin Colfer.
In 2003, he reprised his role as Arthur Dent in a new radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The same year he was involved in the filming of the movie version of the first novel, making a brief cameo appearance in the role of the holographic Magrathean answering machine/automated defence system.
In addition to his work as an actor, Jones is also a co-artistic director at New York Off-Broadway company The Actors Company Theatre (TACT), where he played the role of Jack in the play Home by David Storey.
He recovered enough to join in the Irish Repertory Theatre's production of "A Child's Christmas in Wales", a concert version of the Dylan Thomas work. This ran from 8 December 2009 – 2 January 2010.
2011 took him to Hartford, CT—the Hartford Stage Theatre—where he played 'Piero Soderini' in "Divine Rivalry"—a new play by Michael Kramer, directed by Michael Wilson, and produced by the Shubert Organization. Jones had played this part in several previous readings of the play, and was delighted to finally be in a real, full production. Later in the year, he was in a new musical version of "Death Takes a Holiday", with book by Tom Meehan and Peter Stone, with music by Maury Yeston. It ran in New York City, at the Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre, from 7 July to 4 September. A CD was released shortly afterwards.
From there Jones returned to London where he attended the opening night of "No Naughty Bits", at the Hampstead Theatre on 13 September. The play, by Steve Thompson, was the story of Jones's wife, Nancy Lewis, and the Monty Python team's lawsuit against ABC-TV in America.
2012 found Jones back in Minneapolis, where he played 'David Bliss', husband of Harriet Harris in "Hay Fever" at the Guthrie Theatre. Director this time was from London—friend Chris Luscombe. After that Jones returned to New York where he appeared (in the role of 'Sir Francis Beekman'), with Megan Hilty starring in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" at the City Center's ENCORES! concert series, which also resulted in another CD. Later in the year, he went to the UK, where he starred in a national stage tour of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Live!"
In the summer of 2013, he went to East Hampton, NY, where Tony Walton directed him in a production of "Tonight at 8:30", featuring 3 of Noel Coward's short plays. Blythe Danner was the co-star, and they performed "Hands Across the Sea", "Family Album", and "Red Peppers". This was followed by yet another UK stage tour of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Live!"
The tour of "Blithe Spirit", starring (newly titled) Dame Angela Lansbury, then went to London's West End in early 2014. This was accompanied by an appearance at a special cabaret (organized by co-star Janie Dee) at Cafe de Paris, where Simon sang "Mad Dogs and Englishmen". When the West End performance ended, in June, he immediately went into the role of 'Emperor Joseph II' in "Amadeus", starring Rupert Everett. This was followed by BBC Radio appearances in Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett's "Good Omens", directed by Dirk Maggs, and "Doctor Who", with Tom Baker. The year ended with "Blithe Spirit" again -- with Dame Angela Lansbury -- on a North American tour.
- Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980)
- Reds (1981)
- Giro City (1982)
- Privates on Parade (1982)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
- Brazil (1985)
- Club Paradise (1986)
- Green Card (1990)
- American Friends (1991)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
- 12 Monkeys (1995)
- The Devil's Own (1997)
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
- Griffin & Phoenix (2006)