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Stephen Dillane

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Stephen Dillane
Dillane at the 2012 Dinard British Film Festival
Stephen John Dillane

(1957-03-27) 27 March 1957 (age 67)
London, England
Alma mater
Years active1985–present
SpouseNaomi Wirthner
Children2, including Frank Dillane

Stephen John Dillane (/dɪˈln/;[1] born 27 March 1957)[2] is a British actor. He is best known for his roles as Leonard Woolf in the 2002 film The Hours, Stannis Baratheon in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones (2012–2015) and Thomas Jefferson in the HBO miniseries John Adams (2008), a part which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination.[3] An experienced stage actor who has been called an "actor's actor",[4][5] Dillane won a Tony Award for his lead performance in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing (2000) and gave critically acclaimed performances in Angels in America (1993), Hamlet (1990), and a one-man Macbeth (2005). His television work has additionally garnered him BAFTA and International Emmy Awards for best actor.

Early life[edit]

Dillane was born in Kensington, London, to an English mother, Bridget (née Curwen), and an Irish-Australian surgeon father, John Dillane, who was born in Australia to Irish parents.[6][7][8] The eldest of his siblings (his younger brother Richard is also an actor), he grew up in West Wickham, Kent.[9]

At school, Dillane began performing in end-of-term plays and had "a certain facility" for funny accents.[9] He often found himself in women's roles, which he says "wasn’t good for my confused adolescent psyche",[10] but also recalls a part in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as being particularly memorable, noting that shouting "Fire!" as Rosencrantz while pointing at the audience was "a very thrilling thing to be able to do."[11]

He studied history and politics at the University of Exeter, concentrating on the Russian Revolution,[12] and afterward became a journalist for the Croydon Advertiser. Unhappy in his career, he read one day how actor Trevor Eve gave up architecture for acting; this, along with reading Hamlet and Peter Brook's The Empty Space back-to-back, made him "light up inside somewhere"[13] and spurred him to enter the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School at 25.[7][14] During his early acting career, he was known as Stephen Dillon but reverted to his birth name in the 1990s.[13][15]


Dillane in October 2009

Dillane is an experienced theatre actor; his notable roles include Archer in The Beaux' Stratagem (Royal National Theatre, 1989), Prior Walter in Angels in America (1993), Hamlet (1994), Clov in Samuel Beckett's Endgame (1996), Uncle Vanya (1998), Henry in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing (for which he won a Tony Award in 2000), The Coast of Utopia (2002), and a one-man version of Macbeth (2005) directed by Travis Preston. He has also performed T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets in London and New York City, and was seen in the 2010 Bridge Project's productions of The Tempest and As You Like It.[16]

Dillane also portrayed Horatio in the 1990 film adaptation of Hamlet. He played Michael Henderson in Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), a character based on British journalist Michael Nicholson, and the impatient and easily agitated Harker in Spy Game (2001).

Dillane is also known for his portrayal of Leonard Woolf in The Hours (2002),[17] legendary English professional golfer Harry Vardon in The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)[18] and Glen Foy in the Goal! trilogy. He also starred in John Adams as Thomas Jefferson.[19]

He joined the cast of Game of Thrones in 2011 as Stannis Baratheon, a major contender for the throne of the fictional realm of Westeros.[20] While admitting he had not read the books on which the series is based,[21] he commented that the show's appeal was due to "the storytelling, the extraordinary world that’s created and the way it reflects our actual world – a naked, ruthless pursuit of power in all its forms."[22]

In 2012, he also played Rupert Keel, head of the private security agency Byzantium, in the BBC drama series Hunted.[23] The following year he went on to take the male lead, opposite Clémence Poésy, in the crime drama series The Tunnel, an Anglo-French remake of the Scandinavian The Bridge.[24] Dillane, who had not seen the original series, plays Karl Roebuck, the laid-back, experienced British detective to Poésy's humourless French counterpart.[21] His performance won him an International Emmy Award for Best Actor.[25] In a second series in 2016, titled The Tunnel: Sabotage, he reprised his role alongside Poésy for a new case involving a deadly airliner crash in the English Channel.[26]

Besides television, Dillane also starred in the 2012 British independent film Papadopoulos & Sons as successful entrepreneur Harry Papadopoulos, who rediscovers his life after being forced to start again from nothing in the wake of a banking crisis. His son, Frank Dillane, plays his son in the film.[27] That same year he also had roles in the films Zero Dark Thirty and Twenty8k.

Offscreen, the actor in 2014 collaborated with visual artist Tacita Dean for the Sydney Biennale and Carriageworks in a project called Event for a Stage. The work, performed live and later adapted for radio broadcast[28] and film,[29] explored the process of filmmaking and the "concept of artifice on the stage" through a single actor, Dillane.[30] The performance encompassed readings from texts as well as his personal reflections on acting, theatre, and family.[31] 2015 saw Dillane making other brief returns to stage including a reprise of his reading of Four Quartets in London[32] and a one-off appearance in Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree at the National Theatre.[33]

In 2016, besides appearing in the second series of The Tunnel, Dillane returned to the Donmar Warehouse for a revival of Brian Friel's Faith Healer.[34] His performance as Frank, an itinerant Irish healer, was described as "poetic and powerful."[35] In addition, he appeared as artist Graham Sutherland in The Crown, Netflix's TV series about British monarch Elizabeth II. In 2017, Dillane appeared in two biopics, playing Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax in Joe Wright's Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill,[36] and writer William Godwin, the father of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, in the film Mary Shelley.[37]

In 2018, he shot the film The Thin Man, which has since been retitled The Man In The Hat,[38] opposite Ciarán Hinds; it was directed by Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Dillane has two sons with actress-director Naomi Wirthner: Séamus and actor Frank Dillane,[6] with whom he co-starred in Papadopoulos & Sons.[27]


In October 2023, Dillane signed the Artists4Ceasefire open letter to Joe Biden, President of the United States, calling for a ceasefire of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.[40]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 Business as Usual Mr. Dunlop
1990 Hamlet Horatio
1996 Two If by Sea Evan Marsh Alternate title: Stolen Hearts
1997 Welcome to Sarajevo Michael Henderson (Lead role)
1997 Firelight Charles Godwin
1997 Déjà Vu Sean (Lead role)
1998 Love and Rage Dr. Croly
1999 The Darkest Light Tom (Lead role)
2000 Ordinary Decent Criminal Noel Quigley
2001 Spy Game CIA Agent Chuck Harker
2001 The Parole Officer Inspector Burton
2002 The Truth About Charlie Charlie
2002 The Hours Leonard Woolf
2003 The Gathering Simon Kirkman
2004 King Arthur Merlin
2004 Haven Mr. Allen
2005 The Greatest Game Ever Played Harry Vardon
2005 Goal! Glen Foy
2005 Nine Lives Martin
2006 Klimt Secretary
2007 Goal! 2: Living the Dream... Glen Foy
2007 Fugitive Pieces Jakob Beer (Lead role)
2007 Savage Grace Brooks Baekeland
2008 Freakdog Dr. Harris Original title: Red Mist
2009 44 Inch Chest Mal
2009 Storm Keith Haywood
2011 Perfect Sense Stephen Montgomery
2012 Papadopoulos & Sons Harry Papadopoulos (Lead role)
2012 Twenty8k DCI Edward Stone
2012 Zero Dark Thirty National Security Adviser
2017 Darkest Hour Lord Halifax
2017 Mary Shelley William Godwin
2018 Outlaw King Edward I of England
2019 The Professor and the Madman Dr. Richard Brayne
2020 The Man In The Hat The Damp Man
2021 Boxing Day Richard


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Remington Steele Bradford Galt Episode: "Steel Searching: Part 1"
1986 Coronation Street Mark Siddall Episode: "#1.2624"
1987 The Secret Garden Captain Lennox Television film
1988 The One Game Nicholas Thorne
1988 Christabel Peter Bielenberg
1988 The Face of Trespass Gray Harston Television film; alternate title: An Affair in Mind
1989 The Yellow Wallpaper John Television film
1991 Boon Paul Lyle Episode: "Help Me Make It Through the Night"
1991 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Philip Blackstock Episode: "Achilles Heel"
1991 Heading Home Leonard Meopham Television film
1992 Frankie's House Antony Strickland Television film
1992 Hostages Chris Pearson Television film
1993 Soldier Soldier Captain Mike Davidson Episode: "Hard Knocks"
1994 The Rector's Wife Jonathan Byrne 3 episodes
1995 The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd Mr. Blackmore Play for television
1998 Kings in Grass Castles Patsy Television film
2000 Anna Karenina Karenin
2001 The Cazalets Edward Cazalet
2008 John Adams Thomas Jefferson 6 episodes
2008 The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall Anthony Hurndall Television film
2008 God on Trial Schmidt Television film
2010 Agatha Christie's Marple Inspector Finch Episode: "The Secret of Chimneys"
2012 Eternal Law Carl 2 episodes
2012 Hunted Rupert Keel
2012 Secret State Paul J. Clark
2012 Murder: Joint Enterprise Arlo Raglin Television single drama
2012–15 Game of Thrones Stannis Baratheon 24 episodes
2013 A Touch of Cloth Macratty 2 episodes
2013–17 The Tunnel Karl Roebuck 24 episodes
2016 The Crown Graham Sutherland Episode: "Assassins"
2020–24 Alex Rider Alan Blunt Main role
2021 Vigil Rear Admiral Shaw Miniseries
Red Election MI5 director William Ogilvy [41]

Stage (select work)[edit]

Title Year Role Venue
1989 The Beaux' Stratagem Archer Royal National Theatre
1990 Long Day's Journey into Night Edmund Tyrone
1993–94 Angels in America Prior Walter
1994–95 Hamlet Prince Hamlet International Tour and Gielgud Theatre
1996 Endgame Clov Donmar Warehouse
1998 Uncle Vanya Vanya Young Vic Theatre
1999–2000 The Real Thing Henry Donmar, West End, Broadway
2002 The Coast of Utopia Alexander Herzen Royal National Theatre
2004–06 Macbeth Various Almeida Theatre, Various
2010 As You Like It Jaques Tour including Old Vic and Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Tempest Prospero
2010–11 The Master Builder Halvard Solness Almeida Theatre
2016 Faith Healer Francis Hardy Donmar Warehouse
2019 When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other Man Royal National Theatre

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Work Result
1995 Richard Burton Shakespeare Globe Award Hamlet Won
1998 AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama Kings in Grass Castles Won
1999 Evening Standard Award for Best Actor[42] The Real Thing Won
2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor Nominated
Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Won
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Won
2003 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Hours Nominated
2004 London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Supporting Actor of the Year Nominated
2006 Helpmann Awards for Best Actor in a Play[43] Macbeth Nominated
2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie John Adams Nominated
2009 British Academy Television Award for Best Actor The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall Won
2010 San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble 44 Inch Chest Won
2014 Royal Television Society Programme Award for Best Male Actor The Tunnel Nominated
International Emmy Award for Best Actor Won
2016 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor[44] Faith Healer Won
2019 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for Best Actor[45] How It Is: Part One Nominated
2023 The Offies, Lead Performance in a Play[46] How It Is: Part Two Nominated


  1. ^ "NLS Other Writings: Say How, D". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. ^ Willis, John, ed. (2003). Theatre World Volume 57: 2000–2001. New York City: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 227. ISBN 9781557835239.
  3. ^ "Stephen Dillane". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 31 December 2022.
  4. ^ Wolf, Matt (18 January 2000). "Where it's playing". The Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 16 October 2000. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  5. ^ McNulty, Burnadette (26 September 2008). "Stephen Dillane". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Stephen Dillane Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  7. ^ a b Matt Wolf (16 April 2000). "Getting Out of the Way of 'The Real Thing'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 August 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  8. ^ "Stephen DILLANE". Bob and Joy Salt Family Tree. Ancestry.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  9. ^ a b Powell, Lucy (12 June 2010). "Stephen Dillane, actor of rare introspection". The Times. (Subscription required.)
  10. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (4 April 1998). "In retreat from vulgar stardom". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  11. ^ van der Zee, Bibi (12 January 2000). "The unknown heart-throb". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  12. ^ Rorke, Robert (13 April 2008). "'Adams' alter-ego". New York Post. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  13. ^ a b Wolf, Matt (19 November 1997). "The conscientious objector". The Times.
  14. ^ de Lisle, Tim (16 November 1997). "The unwilling war hero". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  15. ^ Wolf, Matt (2003). Sam Mendes at the Donmar: Stepping into Freedom (1st Limelight ed.). New York: Proscenium Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 978-0879109820.
  16. ^ Billington, Michael (23 June 2010). "The Tempest/As You Like It". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen (27 December 2002). "FILM REVIEW; Who's Afraid Like Virginia Woolf?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  18. ^ Hunter, Stephen (30 September 2005). "Keep Your Head Down". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  19. ^ Garron, Barry (13 March 2008). "HBO's "John Adams" a masterpiece". Reuters. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. ^ Hibberd, James (19 July 2011). "'Game of Thrones' casts sorceress Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon". EW.com. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  21. ^ a b Smedley, Rob (13 January 2014). "Stephen Dillane on The Tunnel and Game Of Thrones". Den of Geek. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  22. ^ Mackenzie, Steven (23 January 2014). "Stephen Dillane interview: "Game of Thrones reflects the naked, ruthless pursuit of power in our actual world"". The Big Issue. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  23. ^ Ryan, Maureen (18 October 2012). "'Hunted' Review: An Entertaining Thriller For Fans Of 'Alias' And 'X-Files'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  24. ^ Munn, Patrick (23 January 2013). "Stephen Dillane & Clémence Poésy Cast As Co-Leads in Sky Atlantic/Canal+ Series 'The Tunnel'". TVWise. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  25. ^ "International Emmys: Dillane and Krijgsman pick up top prizes". The Guardian. Associated Press. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  26. ^ Dowell, Ben (11 February 2016). "First look at The Tunnel series two starring Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy". Radio Times. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  27. ^ a b Farber, Stephen (11 January 2013). "Papadopoulos & Sons: Palm Springs Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  28. ^ "Tacita Dean's Event for a Stage – Soundproof – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". ABC Radio National. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  29. ^ "Berliner Festspiele – Theatertreffen: Event for a Stage". Berliner Festspiele. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  30. ^ Blake, Elissa (22 April 2014). "Tacita Dean: act for a vanishing medium". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  31. ^ Pigott, Mark (4 May 2014). "EVENT FOR A STAGE". Sydney Arts Guide. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  32. ^ "The Horse Hospital / T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  33. ^ "An Oak Tree". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  34. ^ Broadway.com (1 December 2015). "Tony Winner Stephen Dillane, Gina McKee, Nick Payne & More Tapped for Donmar Warehouse's 2016 Spring Season". Broadway.com. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  35. ^ Shenton, Mark (28 June 2016). "Faith Healer review at the Donmar Warehouse, London – 'stunning'". The Stage.
  36. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (8 November 2016). "Stephen Dillane Joins Working Title's Churchill WWII Epic 'Darkest Hour' As Production Begins In UK". Deadline Hollywood.
  37. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2 March 2016). "Tom Sturridge, Maisie Williams & More Join Haifaa Al-Mansour's 'A Storm In The Stars'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  38. ^ "British Films Directory". film-directory.britishcouncil.org. 24 May 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  39. ^ "Ciaran Hinds starring in The Thin Man". Screen. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  40. ^ "Artists4Ceasefire". Artists4Ceasefire. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  41. ^ Kanter, Jake (12 May 2021). "Stephen Dillane, Lydia Leonard & James D'Arcy Lead Viaplay/A+E Networks Spy Noir 'Red Election'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  42. ^ "Evening Standard Theatre Awards 1980-2003". standard.co.uk. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  43. ^ "Past nominees and winners | Helpmann Awards". www.helpmannawards.com.au. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  44. ^ "2016 Results | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards". Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  45. ^ "The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards: all this year's nominees". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  46. ^ "The Offies 2023 Nominations, Finalists and Winners". The Offies. 12 February 2023.

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