derek jacobi biog.




British Actor
(b. 1938)




jacobi




Date of Birth
22 October 1938, Leytonstone, London, England, UK



Biography:

  • Hamlet (BBC, 1980) | Hamlet (Branagh)
  • Human Factor | Richard II
  • Strings | Philby, Burgess And Maclean
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 2
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 5
  • Trivia | Advertise
  • British Dvd War Films | Search Site


    Fine actor as Derek Jacobi is, he is another of those actors (I'm thinking of people like Donald Sinden and Nigel Hawthorne) who frankly does not deserve a knighthood (which he received in 1994). Don't get me wrong, he is one of the finest theatre actors of the last twenty years and despite his talent seems to have remained modest about his achievements. But does his work and the fact that he's a nice guy really warrant a 'Sir' before his name? Has he really done enough? I have my doubts.

    Surely an actor should have contributed more to TV & film (both more important than theatre if only in terms of viewing numbers) to earn such an honour? He may have been good on TV in the 90s in Cadfael and his role in the BBC's 1976 I, Claudius is quite breathtaking but are they enough?

    Moreover, I find it astonishing that he would be awarded a knighthood nearly a decade before someone who has been commercially vastly more successful (a vulgar term to many when talking about the arts but should it be used to exclude someone?). Who am I referring to? That living legend who is so much of a living legend that he is one of the best known British geezers on the planet. The guy who makes acting look so easy it's a breeze. The guy who selflessly risked life and limb for years to save his country from destruction from wannabee evil despots. I'm of course referring to Roger Moore.

    To me, too many of these awards are given to the wrong people. I may be exaggerating (alright I am exaggerating but it might get a laugh so I'll put it in) but if this genorousity is continued in other mediums then get ready for one day hearing the words 'Arise, Sir Timmy ... and thank-you for your contribution to popular music' and seeing Timmy Mallett get up!

    And I bet you never thought you'd see Derek Jacobi and Timmy Mallett in the same sentence?!!

    Food for thought.

    ~ Paul Page, Lenin

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    jacobi

    The light-haired, blue-eyed Derek George Jacobi was born and raised in East London, an only child. His mother, who harbored theatrical ambitions of her own, encouraged her son's early interest in the theater. By age six, Jacobi began appearing in local library productions. A childhood bout with rheumatic fever temporarily paralyzed him, but his desire to act continued. While attending Cambridge, he joined amateur theatrical clubs and began appearing in productions, including essaying the title role in Hamlet (at age 18) for the England Youth Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival and the title role of Edward II for the university's Marlowe Society. Upon graduating, Jacobi joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where he played roles ranging from Henry VIII in both Shakespeare's play and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons and Ferdinand in The Tempest.

    Spotted by Laurence Olivier, Jacobi was invited to perform with the Chichester Festival in Shaw's Saint Joan in 1963. Later that year, Olivier asked him to become a founding member of the newly formed National Theatre. Jacobi made his London stage debut as Laertes in Hamlet at the National. The following year, he was Cassius to Olivier's Othello in a production that was filmed in 1965. Over the next three decades, Jacobi offered distinguished performances in such roles as Touchstone in an all-male As You Like It (1967, opposite Anthony Hopkins as Audrey), the title role in Oedipus Rex (1972), Hamlet (1977, 1979), Kean (1990), Macbeth (1993-94) and Uncle Vanya (1996). Venturing to America in 1980, he made his New York stage debut in the short-lived The Suicide. He fared better four years later when he appeared opposite Sinead Cusack in both Cyrano de Bergerac and Much Ado About Nothing. For the latter, Jacobi won the 1985 Best Actor in a Play Tony Award. A year later, he offered a tour-de-force portrayal of Alan Turing, a gay man who cracked the German Enigma code during WWII, in Breaking the Code.

    After his feature debut in Othello, Jacobi subsequently appeared as Andrei in Laurence Olivier's Three Sisters (1970), as a detective's assistant in Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal (1973), as a printer in a pivotal sequence of The Odessa File (1974) and as a victim of mistaken identity in Otto Preminger's The Human Factor (1979). He voiced Nicodemus, a rat, in the animated feature The Secret of NIMH (1982). The actor has twice worked with director Christine Edzard, in Little Dorrit (1988, as the middle-aged bachelor in love with the title character) and The Fool (1990, as a 19th-century clerk who leads a double life). The actor landed one of his best screen roles, though, playing the homosexual artist Francis Bacon in the 1997 biopic Love Is the Devil. Jacobi continued to offer scene-stealing supporting turns like his almost over-the-top art aficionado in Up at the Villa or his rebellious senator in Gladiator (both 2000). He also stood out as a valet in the all-star ensemble of Robert Altman's Gosford Park (2001).

    In addition to his other theater and screen work, Jacobi also has forged a working relationship with actor-director Kenneth Branagh. On stage, he directed Branagh in "Hamlet" in 1988 and later that year was The Chorus in Branagh's feature remake of Henry V (1989). In 1991, Jacobi was mesmerizing as an antiques-collecting hypnotist in the Branagh-directed thriller Dead Again and he once again teamed with the younger actor-director to portray Claudius in Hamlet (1996).

    On the small screen, Jacobi is perhaps best recalled for his brilliant, award-winning turn as the twitching, stuttering Emperor in the British miniseries I, Claudius (1977). He went on to give memorable performances as Richard II (1979), as Adolf Hitler in the ABC miniseries Inside the Third Reich (1982), as the villainous Frollo to Anthony Hopkins' The Hunchback of Notre Dame (CBS, 1982) and as Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden (CBS, 1987).

    Jacobi won an Emmy as a mysterious stranger pretending to be a released German prisoner in Graham Greene's The Tenth Man (CBS, 1988). In the 1990s, he has lent his mellifluous voice to several projects including Ken Burns' The Civil War (1990) and Burns' Baseball (1994). Jacobi reprised his stage roles of Cyrano de Bergerac (1994) and Alan Turing in Breaking the Code (1997) and found a new set of fans as a 12th-century sleuthing monk in Cadfael (1995-99).

    In 2001, he garnered an Emmy nomination for his guest performance as a hammy Shakespearean actor in a memorable episode of the NBC sitcom Frasier.



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  • Biog.
  • Hamlet (BBC, 1980) | Hamlet (Branagh)
  • Human Factor | Richard II
  • Strings | Philby, Burgess And Maclean
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 2
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 5
  • British Dvd War Films | Search Site
  • Top of Page | Advertise



    jacobi


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    Trivia:

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    Height 5' 10"

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    Long-term partner of Richard Clifford

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  • Biog. | Trivia
  • Hamlet (BBC, 1980) | Hamlet (Branagh)
  • Human Factor | Richard II
  • Strings | Philby, Burgess And Maclean
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 2
  • Tales of the Unexpected Series 5
  • British Dvd War Films | Search Site
  • Top of Page


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