David Thewlis

David Thewlis

Thewlis at the 2008 San Sebastian Film Festival
Born David Wheeler
(1963-03-20) 20 March 1963
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Occupation Actor, author, film director, screenwriter
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Sara Sugarman (m. 1992; div. 1993)
Partner(s) Anna Friel (2001–2010)
Children 1

David Thewlis (also Wheeler; born 20 March 1963)[1] is an English actor. His most commercially successful role to date has been that of Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film series. Other notable performances include the films Naked (for which he won the Best Actor award at Cannes Film Festival), Dragonheart, Kingdom of Heaven, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Theory of Everything, Black Beauty and Macbeth, in which he played King Duncan. He has also done voice work in the films James and the Giant Peach (1996), The Miracle Maker (2000) and Anomalisa (2015). He is also known for the role of Cyrus Crabb in the TV mini series Dinotopia.

Early life

Thewlis, the second of three children, was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, the son of Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler.[2] Both parents worked at his father's shop. As a teenager, he played in a rock band called QED, and played lead guitar with a punk rock band called Door 66. He was educated at Highfield High School, a state secondary school in South Shore, Blackpool. Later, he enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 1984.[3]

Acting career

Thewlis had a minor role in an episode of the 1980s sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle.[4] He also appeared in an episode of popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses (1985) as a friend of Rodney. His first professional role was in the play Buddy Holly at the Regal in Greenwich.[3]

Thewlis' breakout role was in Naked (1993; dir. Mike Leigh), as the main character, Johnny, a highly intelligent, embittered, rambling street philosopher, for which Thewlis was named Best Actor by the National Society of Film Critics (United States), the London Film Critics Circle, the Evening Standard, the New York Film Critics' Circle and the Cannes Film Festival. That same year, he appeared on television as a sexual predator named James Jackson in Prime Suspect 3, opposite Helen Mirren and Ciarán Hinds. Before that, his first television appearance was alongside Ken Jones in Valentine Park.

During the 1990s, Thewlis appeared in a variety of films, mostly fantasy and period, including Restoration (1995), Black Beauty (1994), Total Eclipse (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Dragonheart (1996) and Seven Years in Tibet (1997), opposite Brad Pitt. He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Divorcing Jack (1998), and played Clov in a (2000) television film of Samuel Beckett's Endgame. Notable appearances also include Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged (1998) and Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 (2000), opposite Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell.

He auditioned for the role of Quirrell in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but the part went to Ian Hart. Despite missing out on the first film, he was cast in 2004 as Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He did not have to audition as he was director Alfonso Cuarón's first choice for the role.[5] Thewlis reprised the role in four other films in the series.

He appeared as an SS Commandant of a Nazi death camp and father of the main character in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was well received. Other credits include Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005) and The Omen (2006).

Thewlis played the late Dr. Michael Aris, husband of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, with Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, in the biopic The Lady directed by Luc Besson. In 2012, he received an International Festival of Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera Award. in the same year, He also played in Separate we come, separate we go, directed by Harry Potter co-star Bonnie Wright.

In June 2015, Thewlis was reported to be filming scenes for a Donald Crowhurst biopic, The Mercy, on the beach at Teignmouth, Devon, playing Donald Crowhurst's press agent, Rodney Hallworth, while Colin Firth is playing Donald Crowhurst.[6] He also starred in Regression, a thriller released in autumn 2015, in which he was reunited with Harry Potter co-star Emma Watson, who starred alongside Ethan Hawke. In September 2015, Thewlis starred as Inspector Goole in Helen Edmundson's BBC TV adaptation of J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, alongside Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson. In October 2015, he played King Duncan in the film Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender starring as Macbeth.

Thewlis' next film project is reported to be a role in Wonder Woman, the upcoming DC Comics film adaptation based on the character of the same name,[7] set for release in 2017 and then Thewlis play as Rufus in film The Dreamstone.

Directing and other ventures

Thewlis directed Hello, Hello, Hello in 1995, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. He also wrote, directed and starred in the feature Cheeky (2003). Thewlis is also an author; his debut novel, The Late Hector Kipling, is a black comedy set in the art world and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007.[8]

Personal life

In 1992, Thewlis married director Sara Sugarman; they divorced in 1994. He then had a brief relationship with Bill Oddie's daughter Kate Hardie. In 2001, he began a relationship with actress Anna Friel, whom he met on a flight to Cannes. They have one child together.[9] Friel and Thewlis ended their relationship in late 2010.[10]

Thewlis owns a converted Victorian ballroom in Clerkenwell. He is often mistaken for fellow actor Rhys Ifans (Friel's subsequent partner): "Twice a week, people come up to me and say, 'You were great in Notting Hill.' The public seem to think we are the same person."[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Road Joey
Short & Curlies, TheThe Short & Curlies Clive Short film
1988 Vroom Ringe
Little Dorrit George Braddle
1989 Resurrected Kevin Deakin
1991 Life Is Sweet Nicola's lover
Afraid of the Dark Locksmith
Tom Miller
1992 Swords at Teatime Michael Short film
Damage Detective
1993 Trial, TheThe Trial Franz
Naked Johnny
1994 Black Beauty Jerry Barker
1995 Total Eclipse Paul Verlaine
Restoration John Pearce
Hello, Hello, Hello N/A Short film; directed and wrote
1996 James and the Giant Peach Earthworm (voice)
Dragonheart King Einon
Island of Dr. Moreau, TheThe Island of Dr. Moreau Edward Douglas
1997 American Perfekt Santini
Seven Years in Tibet Peter Aufschnaiter Banned from entering the People's Republic of China.
1998 Big Lebowski, TheThe Big Lebowski Knox Harrington
Divorcing Jack Dan Starkey
Besieged Jason Kinsky
1999 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? Nesbit
2000 Miracle Maker, TheThe Miracle Maker Judas Iscariot (voice)
Gangster No. 1 Freddie Mays
Beckett on Film – Endgame Clov
2001 Goodbye Charlie Bright Charlie's dad
2002 D.I.Y. Hard Man
2003 Cheeky Harry Sankey Also directed and wrote
Timeline Robert Doniger
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Remus Lupin
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Hospitaller
All the Invisible Children Jonathan
New World, TheThe New World Edward Wingfield
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Roy Washburn
Omen, TheThe Omen Keith Jennings
2007 Inner Life of Martin Frost, TheThe Inner Life of Martin Frost Martin Frost
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Remus Lupin
2008 Boy in the Striped Pajamas, TheThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas SS-Obersturmbannführer Ralph
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Remus Lupin
Veronika Decides to Die Dr. Blake
2010 Mr. Nice Jim McCann
London Boulevard Jordan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Remus Lupin
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Lady, TheThe Lady Michael Aris
Anonymous William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
War Horse Lyons
2012 Separate We Come, Separate We Go Norman Short film
2013 RED 2 The Frog
The Fifth Estate Nick Davies
The Zero Theorem Joby
2014 The Theory of Everything Dennis Sciama
Stonehearst Asylum Mickey Finn
Queen and Country Bradley
2015 Regression Professor Kenneth Raines
Legend Leslie Payne
Macbeth King Duncan
Anomalisa Michael Stone (voice)
2016 The Mercy Rodney Hallworth Filming
2017 Wonder Woman Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Only Fools and Horses Stew Episode: "It's Only Rock and Roll"
Radio Pictures Jim Grams TV film
1986 Singing Detective, TheThe Singing Detective Second Soldier Episodes: "Lovely Days"
"Who Done It"
1987–1988 Valentine Park Max
1989 Bit of a Do, AA Bit of a Do Paul Simcock Episodes: "The White Wedding"
"The Dentist's Dinner Dance"
"The Angling Club Christmas Party"
"The Charity Horse-Racing Evening"
"The Crowning of Miss Frozen Chicken"
"The Registry Office Wedding"
Skulduggery Tony TV film
1990 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Doctor TV mini-series
1991 Journey to Knock Terry TV film
Shrinks Terry Slater Episode 1.5
Screen One Tim Shanks Episode: "Filipina Dreamgirls"
1992 Black and Blue Crematorium attendant TV film
1993 Frank Stubbs Promotes Mike Bence Episode: "Striker"
Prime Suspect 3 James Jackson TV film
1994 Dandelion Dead Oswald Martin TV mini-series
1999 Love Story Dealer TV film
2000 Endgame Clov
2001 Hamilton Mattress Hamilton Mattress (voice)
2002 Dinotopia Cyrus Crabb TV mini-series
2007 Street, TheThe Street Joe
Harry Jennerson
Episode: "Twins"
2014 Family Guy British Father Episode: "Chap Stewie"
2015 An Inspector Calls Inspector Goole TV film

Video games

Year Title Role
2004 World of Warcraft Lord Darius Crowley
2010 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film Result
1993 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Naked Won
Evening Standard British Film Award Best Actor Won
London Film Critics Circle Award British Actor of the Year Won
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actor Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actor Won
1995 BAFTA Award Best Short Film
Shared with Helen Booth and James Roberts
Hello, Hello, Hello Nominated
1998 British Independent Film Award Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film Divorcing Jack Nominated
2006 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor Basic Instinct 2 / The Omen Nominated
2007 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Golden Nymph for Outstanding Actor – Drama Series The Street Nominated
2008 British Independent Film Awards Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Film Won
2009 Scream Award Best Ensemble
Shared with the entire cast
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Won
2010 Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy London Boulevard Won
2011 Scream Award Best Ensemble
Shared with the entire cast
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated
2016 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction
Shared with Jennifer Jason Leigh
Anomalisa Won


  1. "Behind The Voice Actors - David Thewlis". Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  2. "David Thewlis profile at FilmReference.com". Film Reference.com. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 Grice, Elizabeth (4 May 2005). "'Anna has changed me for the better'". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  4. "Up the Elephant and Round the Castle(1983–1985) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  5. Morris, Clint (9 June 2004). "Interview: David Thewlis". Movie Hole. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
  6. "PICTURES: Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz on a Teignmouth film set".
  7. Mendelson, Scott. "Gal Gadot Releases First 'Wonder Woman' Image While Warner Bros. Announces The Cast".
  8. ISBN 9781416541219
  9. MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  10. "Friel, David split after nine years". Digital Spy. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
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