Jun. 3rd, 1964
Taunton, Somerset, England, UK
James Purefoy's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
James Purefoy was born and brought up in Somerset. After leaving school at the age of sixteen he took a succession of different jobs, including working on a pig farm and as a porter at Yeovil District Hospital, before travelling and working extensively throughout Europe. At eighteen James returned to college to take his A-Levels, one of which was Drama. It was there that he realised that this was something he felt inspired by and so applied for and was accepted onto the acting course at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Whilst playing the title role in Henry V in the first term of his final year at Central he was seen by a casting director from the RSC and invited to join the company immediately in Stratford. Although initially asked only to play Ferdinand in Nick Hytner's production of The Tempest he left the RSC two years later having performed in eight productions and been directed by the likes of Adrian Noble, Roger Michell and Gene Saks playing, amongst other, Edgar in King Lear and Malcolm in Macbeth. Over the next six years he divided his time between theatre and television. In the theatre he worked with Katie Mitchell on Women of Troy at the Gate; Matthew Warchus, Ken Stott and Jude Law on Death of a Salesman at the West Yorkshire Playhouse; Iain Glen on Hamlet at Bristol Old Vic; Bill Alexander in a critically acclaimed season at Birmingham Rep playing leading parts in The Servant, The Way of the World and Macbeth and with Simon Callow, Joseph Fiennes Rupert Graves, and Helen McCrory, on Les Enfants du Paradis, again for the RSC. As well as appearing in the BBC's landmark period drama, _"Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The" (1996) (mini)_ he has always chosen to do a wide variety of parts on television, to avoid being typecast. From the psychopathic rapist in BBC1's Calling the Shots (1993) (TV) with Lynn Redgrave to the fraudster Darius Guppy in LWT's The Prince; from the urbane observer Nick Jenkins in Channel 4's "A Dance to the Music of Time" (1997) to the sad stalker in Granada's series "Metropolis" (2000), James has always managed to confound people's expectations of him. Over the last few years he has been busy making feature films, on average at the rate of three a year. Early credits include Jedd in Feast of July (1995) for Merchant Ivory, and as the bisexual Irish baker, Brendan in Rose Troche's Bedrooms and Hallways (1998). From the alcoholic roustabout Tom in Mansfield Park (1999) to the wannabee 'Bond' actor Carl Phipps in Maybe Baby (2000); the gambling, womanising Daniel in Women Talking Dirty (1999) with Helena Bonham Carter to the noble, enigmatic Prince Edward in Brian Helgeland's A Knight's Tale (2001). He has continued to surprise those who seek to pidgeon-hole him in his film career - always choosing to play parts that juxtapose strongly with the one he has just completed. Last year he returned to the theatre to play the rake Ned Loveless in Trevor Nunn's acclaimed production of 'The Relapse' at the National Theatre in London, before embarking on the biggest challenge he has yet faced - playing George in the big budget _George and the Dragon (2003)_, with, among others, Michael Clarke Duncan, Val Kilmer, Piper Perabo and Patrick Swayze. This movie will be released in the summer of 2003. He lives alone in London.
- He has a son named Joseph born in 1997 with ex-wife 'Holly Aird' (qv).
- In 1997, Purefoy was voted "hunk of the year" by a British television magazine.
- Screen tested for the Bond role in _GoldenEye (1995)_ (qv).
- James' co-star in 'Rome', Kevin McKidd, also played his love interest in 'Bedrooms and Hallways'.
- He was cast as the leading man in _V for Vendetta (2005)_ (qv) but departed halfway in having had creative differences with the makers of the film.
- The name, Purefoy, is originally Norman French and literally means "good faith" or "my word or bond is in good faith." Some Purefoys went to England during the Norman Conquest and others emigrated to England as French Huguenot expatriates in the fifteenth century.
- At boarding school, he once serenaded the girls at a nearby school with thirteen stanzas of "Greensleeves."
- At his London home, Purefoy personally constructed a tree house for his young son.