Simon McBurney

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Simon McBurney
The Encounter 5462-Michelides.jpg
Born Simon Montagu McBurney
(1957-08-25) 25 August 1957 (age 58)
Cambridge, England
Occupation Actor, writer, theatre director
Years active 1988-present
Spouse(s) Kathryn Hunter

Simon Montagu McBurney, OBE (born 25 August 1957[1]) is an English actor, writer and director. He is the founder and artistic director of the Théâtre de Complicité, London.

Early life[edit]

McBurney was born in Cambridge, England. His father, Charles McBurney, was an American archaeologist and academic. Charles McBurney was the grandson of the American surgeon Charles McBurney (who was credited with describing medical sign McBurney's point, though critics have since challenged its existence). His mother, Anne Francis Edmondstone (née Charles), was a secretary; she was British, and of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry. His parents were distant cousins who met during World War II.[2][3] Brought up in a loving, somewhat cloistered, environment, McBurney was fifteen before he discovered that Burns Night was not purely a family affair.[4] He studied English literature at Peterhouse, Cambridge graduating in 1980. After his father died, he went to France and trained for the theatre at the Jacques Lecoq Institute in Paris.


McBurney is a founder and artistic director of the UK-based theatre company Complicite, which performs throughout the world.[5] He directed their productions of Street of Crocodiles (1992), The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol (1994) which was adapted from the John Berger trilogy "Into Their Labors", "To the Wedding" (another collaboration with John Berger), Mnemonic (1999) and The Elephant Vanishes (2003), "A Disappearing Number" (2007), "A Dog's Heart" (2010), "The Master and Margarita" (2011).

A Disappearing Number was a devised piece conceived and directed by McBurney, taking as its inspiration the story of the collaboration between two of the 20th century's most remarkable pure mathematicians, the Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Cambridge don G.H. Hardy.[6] It played at the Barbican in autumn 2008 and toured internationally. In February 2009 McBurney directed the Complicite production Shun-kin, based on two texts by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. It was produced in London and Tokyo in 2010.

On a freelance basis, McBurney directed the following: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and All My Sons (2008) (both in New York City), and live comedy shows, including Lenny Henry's So Much Things To Say and French and Saunders Live in 2000.

McBurney is an established screen actor: he played the recurring role of Cecil the choirmaster in The Vicar of Dibley, CIA computer whiz Garland in Body of Lies, Dr. Atticus Noyle in The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Stone in The Last King of Scotland, the metrosexual husband Aaron in Friends with Money, Fra Pavel in The Golden Compass, Charles James Fox in The Duchess and Oliver Lacon in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He also wrote the story and was an executive producer for Mr. Bean's Holiday.

He appears in the BBC TV comedy series Rev., where he plays Archdeacon Robert.

Frequently collaborates with writer John Berger.

McBurney played the role of taxidermist Henry Carstairs in Midsomer Murders (1999).

He provides the voice of Kreacher in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010).

In the series The Borgias he plays the canon law expert Johannes Burchard (2011).

He is the Artiste Associé of the 66th Festival d'Avignon (2012).

In the premier of The Encounter at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival, McBurney tells the story of photographer Loren McIntyre, who in 1969, found himself lost amongst the remote Korubo people of the Javari Valley, on the border between Brazil and Peru.[7]


Personal life[edit]

He lives in London with his wife and two children.[9]





  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Anarchy in the UK | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books
  3. ^ "The rhino now standing on platform two", The Guardian, Unlimited Arts
  4. ^ "The John Tusa Interviews", Radio 3[dead link]
  5. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa. "Sophie Hunter: The Opera Director Who Has to Dodge Paparazzie". Sophie Hunter Central. 
  6. ^ Productions – Complicite[dead link]
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 12. 31 December 2004.
  9. ^ [2] The Independent, article How We Met: Simon McBurney and Kathryn Hunter, interview by Adam Jacques, 20 September 2011

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sarah Palmer
Footlights Vice President
Succeeded by
Emma Thompson