Ian McShane: biography
Ian David McShane is a British actor. He has appeared in many movies and TV shows, but is mostly known for playing in the BBC series Lovejoy, and the Western HBO series Deadwood.
Childhood and youth
Ian's birthplace is Blackburn, Lancashire – he was born there on September 29, 1942, to the family of Irene (née Cowley; born 1921) and Scottish footballer Harry McShane (1920–2012). Ian has Scottish, Irish and English roots: his dad was from Holytown, Lanarkshire, and his mother was born in England.
When Ian was a child, his family moved to Davyhulme, Manchester, where he studied at Stretford Grammar School. Later he attended National Youth Theatre and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir John Hurt were his classmates.
McShane tried out playing where he was young: in 1962 he got a leading role in the movie The Wild and the Willing by Ralf Thomas. His character was a troubled young boy from a provincial university. For the sake of playing there, Ian dropped out of the Academy (although there only one semester of studying left).
After such a successful debut, Ian kept working in acting: he appeared in many various British TV-series. So, in the 1960s he played in the drama The Pleasure Girls by Gerry O'Hara, in the Wuthering Heights based on Emily Jane Brontë's novel as Heathcliff.
Besides playing in movies and TV-shows, the actor appeared in West End and Broadway theaters. In early November 1967, he starred in playing The Promise (about the besieged Leningrad) by Aleksei Arbuzov. There Ian worked with Sir Ian Murray McKellen and Dame Eileen June Atkins.
In the 1970s professional critics described McShane as a “new, the most romantic England star.” That time he played in epic Battle of Britain, in Tam Lin – the story based on Scottish fairytale about the sorceress, the enchanted knight and the girl who was in love with him. Ian worked there with Ava Lavinia Gardner. Besides, he starred in thrillers such as Villain (featuring Richard Burton ) and Sitting Target (featuring Robert Oliver Reed ) and The Ransom where he acted terrorist fighting against the character of Thomas Sean Connery.
In the magazine New York Times Ian shared his thoughts:
The bad boy: always more fun. It’s funny. When you’re in your early 20s, you go ahead and do everything.
When McShane played in Hollywood, the directors offered him secondary roles – he didn't like it. One of the most successful Hollywood movies he played in was The Last of Sheila where he acted Anthony Wood. Also, he gained popularity due to starring as Judas Iscariot in TV-series Jesus of Nazareth.
Franco Zeffirelli, its director, said that Judas is more political than religious character. Ian played an idealist hoping Jesus to encourage Jewish people to strike against the Roman and rejoice Kingdom's greatness. When Judas understood Jesus was not going to do it, he betrayed him.
Ian's fans note his perfect job while acting as one of the most outstanding British politicians – Benjamin Disraeli.
In the 1980s McShane played only secondary roles but appeared in many popular TV-shows. So, the actor came to prominence only after playing in the Lovejoy as a protagonist. It is a comedy and detective. Ian launched his own production company McShane Productions for its promotion. The series appeared on TV screens for the first time in 1986, but had some problems with corporate law, was put off and could return to TV only at the beginning of the 1990s. Every episode has a unique plot - a separate story about the attractive swindler Lovejoy.
In the 1990s Ian played rarely, and the viewers could see him on TV only in 2000 – he starred in the movie Sexy Beast by Jonathan Glazer as a violent gangster. The same year, he got the role of Devil in the musical The Witches of Eastwick but had to give up working there in 2001 because of a sickness.
Later the actor played in the American TV-series Deadwood. His character was a brutal owner of Al Swearengen. In the series, there were scenes of violence and sex, profanity. Television Critics Association evaluated Ian's playing there highly. The New York Times magazine called the actor “the most interesting villain.” For his role there, McShane won the 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama. He was also nominated at the 2005 Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In 2005 Ian took part in the film Nine Lives. Its plot told about the nine women with different destinies. Ian played a disabled person there.
In 2006 Deadwood was closed, and the actor was involved in other projects. In drama We Are Marshall he played the father of dead sportsman, Heywood "Woody" Allen invited him to the comedy Scoop where he acted as a killed journalist. That time he also worked in the movies Hot Rod, The Seeker, Death Race.
In 2007 he played the ruthless head of the family – Max in the famous playing The Homecoming by Harold Pinter. In 2009 Ian got the role in the series Kings – he acted as an absolute monarch. The story told about the rivalry between Saul and David.
In January 2010 the new movie 44 Inch Chest appeared on screens. Its plot is about British gangsters. Ian worked there with Raymond Andrew Winstone and John Vincent Hurt. Its scenario was written by the directors of Sexy Beast. The same year, viewers of the movie The Pillars of the Earth Tandem Communications (based on Ken Follett's novel) could see McShane as a bishop Waleran.
McShane also starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – he acted as Edward Teach (Blackbeard).
In 2011 the actor was invited to play in the movie Jack the Giant Slayer by Bryan Jay Singer as a King. Besides, he starred in Snow White & the Huntsman. In October 2012, we could see Ian in the second season of American Horror Story. At the beginning of 2013, he appeared in the movie Hercules.
In 2016 Ian joined the NBO series Game of Thrones in the sixth season. In March, he got the role in the movie American Gods based on Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman's novel. In October 2018, McShane returned to work in the series Deadwood – it will be released on May 31, 2019.
Ian's net worth is evaluated at $10 million.
Ian's first wife was Suzan Farmer - his colleague while working in The Wild and the Willing. They divorced several years later their wedding.
In 1977, he began a relationship with Sylvia Kristel after meeting her on the set of The Fifth Musketeer. The affair ended his marriage to his second wife, model Ruth Post, with whom he had two children, Kate and Morgan.Through his daughter Kate, McShane has three grandchildren.
On 30 August 1980, McShane married actress Gwen Humble (born 4 December 1953). In an interview, the actor said they lived together in Venice, California
- The Pleasure Girls (1965);
- If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969);
- Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (1970);
- Freelance (1971);
- The Great Riviera Bank Robbery (1979);
- Torchlight (1985);
- Nemesis Game (2003);
- Agent Cody Banks (2003);
- John Wick (2014);
- The Hollow Point (2016);
- Hellboy (2019).