Simon McBurney

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Simon McBurney
The Encounter 5468-Michelides.jpg
McBurney in August 2015
Born Simon Montagu McBurney
(1957-08-25) 25 August 1957 (age 58)
Cambridge, England
Alma mater University of Cambridge
  • Actor
  • writer
  • theatre director
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Cassie Yukawa
Children 2

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. He has had roles in the films The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Friends with Money (2006), The Golden Compass (2007), The Duchess (2008), Robin Hood (2010), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Magic in the Moonlight (2014), and The Theory of Everything (2014).

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.[2] His parents were distant cousins who met during World War II.[3] He studied English literature at Peterhouse, Cambridge, graduating in 1980. After his father died, he moved to Paris and trained for the theatre at the Jacques Lecoq Institute.[3]


McBurney is a founder and artistic director of the UK-based theatre company Complicite, which performs throughout the world.[4] 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 Berger collaboration); Mnemonic (1999); The Elephant Vanishes (2003); A Disappearing Number (2007); A Dog's Heart (2010); and The Master and Margarita (2011).

McBurney at the Edinburgh International Festival on 6 August 2015

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.[5] 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), Nigel 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.

From 2010 to 2014, he appeared in the BBC comedy television series Rev., portraying the role of Archdeacon Robert. McBurney provided the voice of Kreacher in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010). In the series The Borgias, he portrayed the canon law expert Johannes Burchart. He is the Artiste Associé of the 66th Festival d'Avignon (2012). In the premiere of The Encounter at the 2015 Edinburgh International 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[6]. in July 2015 ,he starred as the director of MI6 ,Atlee, the secondary antagonist of the blockbuster action spy film Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

Personal life[edit]

He lives in London with his wife and two children.[7] In the 2005 New Year Honours, McBurney was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "for services to Drama".[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Kafka Assistant Oscar
1994 A Business Affair Salesman
1994 Being Human Hermas
1994 Tom & Viv Dr. Reginald Miller
1994 Mesmer Franz
1996 The Ogre Brigadier
1997 The Caucasian Chalk Circle Azdak the Judge Video
1998 Cousin Bette Vauvinet
1999 Onegin Monsieur Triquet
2000 Eisenstein Sergei Eisenstein
2003 The Reckoning Stephen
2003 Bright Young Things Sneath (Photo-Rat)
2003 Skagerrak Thomas
2004 The Manchurian Candidate Dr. Atticus Noyle
2004 Human Touch Bernard
2006 Friends with Money Aaron
2006 The Last King of Scotland Nigel Stone
2007 The Golden Compass Fra Pavel
2008 Body of Lies Garland
2008 The Duchess Charles James Fox
2009 Boogie Woogie Robert Freign
2010 Robin Hood Father Tancred
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Kreacher Voice
2011 Jane Eyre Mr. Brocklehurst
2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Oliver Lacon
2013 For Those Who Can Tell No Tales Tim Clancy
2014 Magic in the Moonlight Howard Burkan
2014 The Theory of Everything Frank Hawking
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Director Atlee
2016 The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist Maurice Grosse Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Screenplay Martin Episode: "Burning Ambition"
1989 The Two of Us The Man Episode: "Trust"
1992 The Bill Shaun Anderton Episode: "Man of the People"
1992–93 The Comic Strip Presents Mick / Madman 2 episodes
1994–2004 The Vicar of Dibley Choirmaster Cecil 4 episodes
1995 Performance Ancient Pistol Episode: "Henry IV"
1996 Absolutely Fabulous Conductor Episode: "The Last Shout (Part 1)"
1999 Midsomer Murders Henry Carstairs Episode: "Death of a Stranger"
2010–14 Rev. Archdeacon Robert 19 episodes
2011–13 The Borgias Johannes Burchart 6 episodes
2014 Knifeman Houdyshell Unsold pilot
2015 The Casual Vacancy Colin "Cubby" Wall Miniseries; 3 episodes


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Costa, Maddy (11 September 2010). "A life in theatre: Simon McBurney". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b O'Mahony, John (1 January 2005). "Anarchy in the UK - Profile: Simon McBurney". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa. "Sophie Hunter: The Opera Director Who Has to Dodge Paparazzie". Sophie Hunter Central. 
  5. ^ A Disappearing Number at the Barbican
  6. ^ "The Encounter". Edinburgh International Festival. 
  7. ^ Jacques, Adam (20 September 2011). "How We Met: Simon McBurney and Kathryn Hunter". The Independent. 
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 12. 31 December 2004.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sarah Palmer
Footlights Vice President
Succeeded by
Emma Thompson