Joss Ackland CBE
(1928 - )
All images are
Joss Ackland remains one of Britain’s finest characters actors of the last fifty years, famed especially for his villainous roles. In fact he is so good with a variety of foreign accents - few actually realise he's British!
He was born on the 29th February 1928 in North Kensington, London. His career began after graduating from London's Central School of Speech and Drama. During the next 10 years, he honed his skills by working for a variety of regional theatre troupes, making a brief film debut in 1949's Seven Days to Noon. Although he left acting in 1955 to manage a Central African tea plantation, he still found time to write plays and work as a radio disc jockey. When he returned to the British theatre in 1957, Ackland joined the Old Vic.
From 1962 to 1964, he was associate director of the Mermaid Theatre, and later established himself on the West End musical stage, playing such showcase roles as Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Juan Peron in Evita. In 1969, at the age of 41, he appeared alongside Brian Blessed in very popular British TV series 'The Avengers' where he played Brigadier Hansing. In the 70s he made many stage and screen appearances, including 'The House that Dripped Blood', 'Hitler: The Last Ten Days' (1973) with the great Sir Alec Guinness as Hitler, Ackland playing General Burgdorf and then in 1973 'The Three Musketeers'. Here he played alongside Michael York, Oliver Reed, Charlton Heston and Christopher Lee. Good movie and worth a watch.
He had to wait until the 1980s to attractive the massive blockbusters. It was his 1987 role as a decadent aristocrat in 'White Mischief' and then as a corrupt South African official in 1989's 'Lethal Weapon 2' that made his name with filmgoers. He also won great acclaim for his portrayal of author CS Lewis in the TV film Shadowlands. He also appeared in the excellent TV Series ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ starring Jeremy Brett.