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David Warner (actor)

David Warner
Warner photographed by Rory Lewis, 2013
Born (1941-07-29) July 29, 1941
Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Education Feldon School
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962–present
Awards Emmy Award

David Warner (born July 29, 1941) is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Cross of Iron, The Omen, Holocaust, Portrait in Evil, Time Bandits, Tron, and various characters in the Star Trek franchise including Star Trek V, VI and Star Trek: The Next Generation. In 1981, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for his portrayal of Pomponius Falco in the television miniseries Masada.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Theatre 2.1
    • Film and television 2.2
    • Voice work 2.3
    • Career renaissance 2.4
    • Other work 2.5
    • Literature 2.6
  • Filmography 3
  • Television work 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Warner was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, the son of Doreen (née Hattersley) and Herbert Simon Warner, who was a nursing home proprietor.[2] He was born out of wedlock and frequently taken to be brought up by each of his parents, eventually settling with his Russian Jewish father and his stepmother.[3][4][5] He was educated at Feldon School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London.



Warner made his professional stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre in January 1962, playing Snout, a minor role in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Tony Richardson for the English Stage Company. In March 1962 at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, he played Conrad in Much Ado About Nothing, following which in June he appeared as Jim in Afore Night Come at the New Arts Theatre in London.

He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1963 to play Trinculo in The Tempest and Cinna the Poet in Julius Caesar, and in July was cast as Henry VI in the John Barton adaptation of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, which comprised the first two plays from The Wars of the Roses trilogy. At the Aldwych Theatre, London, in January 1964, he again played Henry VI in the complete The Wars of the Roses history cycle (1964). Returning to Stratford in April, he performed the title role in Richard II, Mouldy in Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry VI. At the Aldwych in October 1964, he was cast as Valentine Brose in the play Eh? by Henry Livings, a role he reprised in the 1968 film adaptation Work Is a Four-Letter Word.

He first played the title role in Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1965. This production was transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in December of that year. In the 1966 Stratford season, his Hamlet was revived and he also played Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night. Finally at the Aldwych in January 1970, he played Julian in Tiny Alice.

According to his 2007 programme CV, Warner's other work for the theatre has included The Great Exhibition at Hampstead Theatre (February 1972); I, Claudius at the Queen's Theatre (July 1972); A Feast of Snails at the Lyric Theatre (February 2002); Where There's a Will at the Theatre Royal, Bath; King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre (in 2005, see details below); and also Major Barbara on Broadway.

Film and television

In 1963, he made his film debut as the villainous Blifil in Vanessa Redgrave, which established his reputation for playing slightly off-the-wall characters. He also appeared as Konstantin Treplev in Sidney Lumet's 1968 adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Sea Gull and starred alongside Jason Robards and Stella Stevens as Reverend Joshua Duncan Sloane in Sam Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

In horror films, he appeared in one of the stories of From Beyond the Grave, opposite Gregory Peck in The Omen (1976) as the ill-fated photojournalist Keith Jennings, and the 1979 thriller Nightwing. He also starred in cult classic Waxwork (1988), and featured alongside a young Viggo Mortensen in the 1990 film Tripwire.

He has often played villains, in films such as Reinhard Heydrich both in the film Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil, and the television miniseries Holocaust; as sinister millionaire recluse Amos Hackshaw in HBO's original 1991 film Cast a Deadly Spell, who plots to use the world's most powerful spell book – the Necronomicon – to unleash the Lovecraftian Old Ones from eternal imprisonment upon the Earth.

In 1981, Warner received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for Masada as Pomponius Falco. In 1988, he appeared in the Danny Huston film Mr. North.

He subsequently appeared in films such as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Avatar (known as Matrix Hunter in USA), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), Titanic (the second time he has appeared in a film about RMS Titanic) and Scream 2. In 2001, he played Captain James Sawyer in two episodes of A&E's adaptation of C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. He appeared in three episodes of the second season of Twin Peaks (1991). He also continues to play classical roles. In "Chain of Command", a 6th-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he was a Cardassian interrogator. He based his portrayal on the evil "re-educator" from 1984. His less-spectacular roles included a double-role in the low-budget fantasy Quest of the Delta Knights (1993) which was eventually spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also played Admiral Tolwyn in the film version of Wing Commander.

Warner's sympathetic side had been evident in Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron (1977), where he portrayed Captain Kiesel. Other "nice guy" roles include the charismatic "Aldous Gajic" in "Grail", a first season (1994) episode of Babylon 5 and "Chancellor Gorkon" in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he played Superman's deceased Kryptonian father Jor-El, who appeared to his son through holographic recordings. Warner has also played "ambiguous nice guys" such as vampire bat exterminator Philip Payne in 1979's Nightwing; and Dr. Richard Madden in 1994's Necronomicon: Book of the Dead. In Seven Servants by Daryush Shokof, he co-starred with Anthony Quinn in 1996.

Another 'sympathetic' role was in 2013, when he played Professor Grisenko in the Doctor Who episode "Cold War" in which he battled a revived Ice Warrior and struck up a rapport with the Doctor's companion Clara Oswald.

David also appeared in the second series of the Sky 1 comedy-drama Mad Dogs.

In 2014 Warner starred in two episodes of the Horror series Penny Dreadful as Abraham Van Helsing.

Voice work

Warner contributed "Sonnet 25" to the 2002 compilation album, When Love Speaks (EMI Classics), which consists of Shakespearean sonnets and play excerpts as interpreted by famous actors and musicians. He has performed in many audio plays, starring in the Doctor Who "Unbound" play Sympathy for the Devil (2003) as an alternative version of the Doctor, and in a series of plays based on ITV's Sapphire & Steel as Steel, both for Big Finish Productions. He reprised his incarnation of the Doctor in a sequel, Masters of War (2008). In 2007, he guest starred as Isaac Newton in the Doctor Who audio drama Circular Time and as Cuthbert in four of the seven stories in the second Fourth Doctor series. He also guest starred in the BBC Radio 4 science fiction comedy Nebulous (2005) as Professor Nebulous' arch-enemy Dr. Joseph Klench. In all these productions, Warner has worked with writer and comedian Mark Gatiss of the League of Gentlemen, and plays a guest role in the League's 2005 feature film The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse. He has also performed in radio plays for the distinguished American companies L.A. Theatre Works and the Hollywood Theater of the Ear. In 2005, Warner read a new adaptation of Oliver Twist for BBC Radio 2 (adapted by Neville Teller and directed by Neil Gardner). In 2008, he guest-starred as Mycroft Holmes in the Bernice Summerfield audio play The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel. In 2009, he was the voice of Lord Azlok of the Viperox, an insectoid alien race in the animated Doctor Who serial "Dreamland".

He has also contributed voice acting to a number of computer games, most notably playing the villain Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and Morpheus in Fallout.

Warner also did voice work on the short-lived FOX animated series Toonsylvania as Dr. Vic Frankenstein. On the Cartoon Network animated television series The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, David provided the voice of Nergal, a demonic creature from the Earth's core. He voiced the character until 2003, when he was replaced by Martin Jarvis. He also voiced one of Batman's greatest enemies, Ra's al Ghul, in Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and an episode of Batman Beyond. He also voiced the Lobe in Freakazoid and Alpha in Men in Black: The Series, Herbert Landon in Spider-Man, as well as the Archmage in Gargoyles.

Warner narrated the Disney's direct-to-video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin.

In March 2010, it was announced that Warner would be joining the cast of the Dark Shadows audio drama miniseries Kingdom of the Dead.

Career renaissance

David Warner in July 2008

In 2001, Warner returned to the stage after a nearly three-decade hiatus to play Andrew Undershaft in a Major Barbara. In May 2005, at the Chichester Festival Theatre Warner made a return to Shakespeare, playing the title role in Steven Pimlott's production of King Lear. Tim Walker, reviewing the performance in the Sunday Telegraph, wrote: "Warner is physically the least imposing king I have ever seen, but his slight, gaunt body serves also to accentuate the vulnerability the part requires. So, too, does the fact that he is older by decades than most of the other members of the youthful cast."

On 30 October 2005, he appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Christopher Eccleston, Bruno Langley, Navin Chowdhry, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. In December 2006, he starred in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather on Sky1 as Lord Downey. And in August 2007, as an RSC Honorary Artist, he returned to Stratford for the first time in over 40 years to play Sir John Falstaff in the Courtyard Theatre revival of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 which were part of the RSC Histories Cycle.

In February 2008, Warner was heard as the popular fictional character Hugo Rune in a new 13-part audio adaptation of Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicon released by Hokus Bloke Productions and BBC Audiobooks. He starred alongside some high-profile names including cult science fiction actress and Superman star Sarah Douglas, Rupert Degas, The Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis, Harry Potter villain Jason Isaacs, Mark Wing-Davey and Martin Jarvis (written by Elliott Stein & Neil Gardner, and produced/directed by Neil Gardner).

In October 2008, Warner played the role of Lord Mountbatten of Burma in the BBC Four television film In Love with Barbara, a biopic about the life of romantic novelist Barbara Cartland.[6] He plays Povel Wallander, the father of Kurt Wallander, in BBC One's Wallander.

Other work

In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Warner about his role in The Omen (1976) for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror.[7][8] In November 2013, David Warner posed for Rory Lewis Photographers 'Northerners' Exhibition,[9] David's image was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London, and was the first professional portrait sitting of David since 1966.[10]


  • Who's Who in the Theatre, 17th edition (1981) Gale Publishing, ISBN 0-8103-0235-7
  • RSC programme for Stratford-upon-Avon's, Courtyard Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2
  • Theatre Record magazine's annual indexes of each year's reviewed theatrical productions


Year Title Role Notes
1962 We Joined the Navy Sailor painting ship Uncredited
The King's Breakfast 1st Trumpeteer Short Film
Tom Jones Blifil
1966 Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment Morgan Delt
The Deadly Affair Edward II Uncredited
1968 The Bofors Gun Terry "Lance Bar" Evans
Work Is a 4-Letter Word Valentine Brose
A Midsummer Night's Dream Lysander
The Fixer Count Odoevsky
The Sea Gull Konstanting Treplev, her son
1969 Michael Kohlhaas - Der Rebell Michael Kohlhaas
1970 The Ballad of Cable Hogue Joshua
Perfect Friday Lord Nicholas "Nick" Dorset
1971 Straw Dogs Henry Niles Uncredited
Swêden Poruno: Yokujô Shotaiken
1973 A Doll's House Torvald Helmer
1974 From Beyond the Grave Edward Charlton Segment 1 "The Gate Crasher"
Little Malcolm Dennis Charles Nipple
1975 The Old Curiosity Shop Sampson Brass
1976 The Omen Keith Jennings
1977 Providence Kevin Langham/Kevin Woodford
Cross of Iron Hauptmann (Capt.) Kiesel
Age of Innocence Henry Buchanan
The Disappearance Burbank
1978 Silver Bears Agha Firdausi
The Thirty Nine Steps Sir Edmund Appleton
1979 Nightwing Phillip Payne
The Concorde ... Airport '79 Peter O'Neill
Time After Time Jack the Ripper - John Leslie Stevenson Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1980 The Island John David Nau
1981 Time Bandits Evil
The French Lieutenant's Woman Murphy
1982 Tron Ed Dillinger/Sark/Master Control Program
1983 The Man with Two Brains Dr. Alfred Necessiter
1984 Summer Lightning George Millington
The Company of Wolves Father
A Christmas Carol Bob Cratchit
1985 Portrait in Evil Reinhard Heydrich The second time Warner played SS-General, Gestapo & SD Chief and Holocaust architect Heydrich
1987 Hansel and Gretel Father
My Best Friend Is a Vampire Prof. Leopold McCarthy
1988 Keys to Freedom Nigel Heath
Waxwork Waxwork Man
Mr. North Doctor McPherson
Hanna's War Captain Julian Simon
Hostile Takeover Eugene Brackin
1989 Magdalene Baron von Seidl
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier St. John Talbot
Mortal Passions Doctor Terrence Powers
Grave Secrets Dr. Carl Farnsworth
1990 Tripwire Josef Szabo
1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Chancellor Gorkon
Cast a Deadly Spell Amos Hackshaw
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze Professor Jordan Perry
1992 The Lost World Professor Summerlee
1993 H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon Dr. Madden
Quest of the Delta Knights Baydool / Lord Vultare / Narrator
Perry Mason & The Case of the Skin Deep Scandal Harley Griswold
1995 In the Mouth of Madness Dr. Wrenn
1996 Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny Dr. Eugene Botkin
1997 Money Talks Barclay (James' Boss)
Scream 2 Gus Gold
Titanic Spicer Lovejoy Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1998 The Last Leprechaun Simpson
1999 Wing Commander Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn
2001 Planet of the Apes Senator Sandar
Back to the Secret Garden Dr. Snodgrass
Superstition Judge Padovani
2002 The Code Conspiracy Professor
The Little Unicorn Ted Regan
2003 Kiss of Life Pap
2004 Avatar Joseph Lau
Ladies in Lavender Dr. Francis Mead
Straight Into Darkness Deacon
Cortex Master of Organisation
2005 The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Dr. Erasmus Pea
2007 Terry Pratchett's Hogfather Lord Downey
2010 Black Death Abbot
2011 A Thousand Kisses Deep Max
2013 Before I Sleep Eugene Devlin Post-Production

Television work

Year Title Role Notes
1978 Holocaust Reinhard Heydrich
1979 S.O.S. Titanic Lawrence Beesley TV film
1981 Masada Falco Won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special
1984 Charlie Charlie Alexander
1990 Murder, She Wrote Justin Hunnicut
1991 Uncle Vanya Uncle Vanya
1991 Twin Peaks Thomas Eckhardt
1992 Star Trek: The Next Generation Gul Madred
1992 Tales From the Crypt: The New Arrival Dr. Alan Getz
1993 Body Bags Dr. Lock TV film
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Jor-El Episode "The Foundling"
Babylon 5 Aldous Gajic
1995-1997 Freakazoid! The Lobe
1995 The Outer Limits Bill Trenton Episode "Virtual Future"
1999 The Outer Limits Inspector Harold Langford Episodes "Ripper" and "Better Luck Next Time"
2001 Hornblower Captain James Sawyer
2004 Conviction (UK TV series) Lenny Fairburn
2004 4.50 from Paddington(Agatha Christie's Marple) Luther Crackenthorpe
2007 Wild at Heart Gerald Season 2, episode 8
2008 - 2010 Wallander Povel Wallander
2008 In Love with Barbara Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
2009 Doctor Who: Dreamland Lord Azlok
2010 Dark Shadows: Kingdom of the Dead Seraph
2011 Mad Dogs (TV series) Mackenzie
2012 The Secret of Crickley Hall Percy Judd All 3 episodes
2012 Midsomer Murders Peter Fossett Death in the Slow Lane (episode)
2013 Doctor Who Professor Grisenko Episode "Cold War"
2014 Penny Dreadful Abraham Van Helsing 2 episodes
2015 Inside No.9 Justice Pike Episode "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge"
2015 The Amazing World of Gumball Rob's new "evil voice" Episode "The Nemesis"


  1. ^ David-Warner. The New York Times. Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  2. ^ Photos Page 3. (12 December 1916). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  3. ^ David Warner: An Actor's Life and Art: A Portrait of the Actor as a Young Man at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  4. ^ David Warner Biography (1941–). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  5. ^ David Warner Biography. Yahoo! Movies. (29 July 1941). Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  6. ^ Four Programmes – In Love with Barbara. BBC. Retrieved on 26 July 2011.
  7. ^ Clarke, Donald. "Mark Gatiss’s History of Horror".  
  8. ^ "A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss – Home Counties Horror Ep 2/3". BBC. 18 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Rory Lewis Photographer Blog
  10. ^ National Portrait Gallery London David Warner

External links

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