British Celebrity Spotlight | Rupert Penry-Jones
Penry-Jones was born in London in 1970 to Welsh actor Peter Penry-Jones, and actress Angela Thorne. His brother Laurence Penry-Jones and sister-in-law Polly Walker are also actors.
He was educated at Dulwich College in south-east London, until age 17 when he was enrolled at Bristol Old Vic, only to be expelled in his second year for being a bad influence.. His bad influence was a result of a broken relationship in which Rupert stated he tried to get over it by “shagging everything in sight” . Being dyslexic, he struggled at school, eventually leaving with no A-levels.
In 1995 he appeared with his mother on television in Cold Comfort Farm.
Penry-Jones trained for the stage at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He made his London stage debut at the Hackney Empire in 1995 playing Fortinbras to Ralph Fiennes’s Hamlet in an Almeida production of Hamlet.
He was cast as Richard in the premiere staging of Stephen Poliakoff’s Sweet Panic at Hampstead Theatre in 1996. The following year he appeared in both The Paper Husband at Hampstead Theatre and as the upper class Pip Thompson in a prestigious revival of Arnold Wesker’s Chips with Everything on the Lyttelton stage at the Royal National Theatre.
In 1998 he created the role of the Boy in Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby at the Almeida Theatre. In 1999 he joined the RSC at Stratford-upon-Avon, playing the title role in Don Carlos at The Other Place and Alcibiades in Timon of Athens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both productions transferred to the Barbican Centre in 2000, where his performance as Don Carlos won the Ian Charleson Award.
At the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds in 2001 he was cast as Robert Caplan in J. B. Priestley’s thriller “time-play” Dangerous Corner opposite Dervla Kirwan, who played Olwen Peel. The production then successfully transferred for a four-month run at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End.
From July to October 2003 at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre he played the leading role of Louis XIV in Nick Dear’s historical drama Power.
He returned to the theatre at the end of 2009 playing the role of Carl in Michael Wynne’s new play The Priory at the Royal Court Theatre, London, from 19 November 2009 to 16 January 2010.
On television, he has played barrister Alex Hay in C4’s 10 part serial North Square in 2000, Donald McLean in the BBC’s 4-part production of Cambridge Spies in 2003 and Grimani in Russell T. Davies’ production of Casanova in 2005.
In 2004, he joined the cast in series 3 of the BBC’s BAFTA-winning series Spooks. He played the lead role of section leader, Adam Carter for 4 series before leaving the show in 2008. He won ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards for his role in Spooks in 2008. He also went on to play the role of Captain Wentworth in ITV’s adaptation of Persuasion.
In 2008, he starred with Bradley Whitford and Neve Campbell in Burn Up playing an oil executive who becomes embroiled in the politics surrounding global warming and oil stocks.
He played Richard Hannay in the BBC adaptation of The 39 Steps which was screened at Christmas 2008.
In 2009, he was cast as the lead in the unaired ABC pilot The Forgotten but was unceremoniously replaced when the pilot was picked up and replaced by Christian Slater. Penry-Jones was apparently devastated and proceeded to give a number of interviews in the UK in which he attacked the US television industry. His charms appear lost on Americans, however, with Rupert being unceremoniously dumped from a major TV series. He has since described American television as a “factory”.
In February 2009, he took the lead in an ITV drama, Whitechapel, a three-part thriller based on a the copycat killings of Jack the Ripper. Whitechapel was the highest performing new drama in 2009. A second series of the show based around the Kray twins was broadcast in autumn 2010; the third series began in January 2012.
He was scheduled to appear alongside other celebrities in Soccer Aid 2010, but broke a bone in his knee during training, putting him in a plaster cast and ruling him out of the final match on 6 June 2010.
Rupert was also recently cast opposite Maxine Peake in a legal drama Silk created by Peter Moffat. The show revolves around two barristers, played by Penry-Jones and Peake who are competing to become QCs.
Rupert also joined the cast of the film Manor Hunt Ball. Filming commenced in late 2010/early 2011.
Rupert is notable for being passed over for membership for the BAFTA, nevertheless he was a presenter at the BAFTA TV Awards in 2009 and 2012.
Rupert is known to be very critical of the British television and film industry. He stated that Doctor Who is a “very good children’s show…but has low production values.” He also said the Harry Potter films are “shit”. He admitted walking out of the first three films.