Charles Dance

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Charles Dance

Charles Dance 2012 (cropped).jpg
Dance at the 2012 London Film and Comic Con
Born (1946-10-10) 10 October 1946 (age 74)
Alma mater
Years active1971–present
Joanna Haythorn
(m. 1970;div. 2004)
Partner(s) Sophia Myles (2004-2005)
Shambhala Marthe (2005-2008)
Eleanor Boorman (2008-2012)
Alessandra Masi (2018-present)

Walter Charles Dance OBE (born 10 October 1946) is an English actor. Some of his highest-profile roles are Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones (2011–2015), Karellen in Syfy's Childhood's End (2015), Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child (1986), Dr. Jonathan Clemens in Alien 3 (1992), Benedict in Last Action Hero (1993), the Master Vampire in Dracula Untold (2014), Lord Havelock Vetinari in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal (2010), Alastair Denniston in The Imitation Game (2014), Emperor Emhyr var Emreis in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015), and William Randolph Hearst in David Fincher's Mank (2020). Most recently he appeared in Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and portrayed Lord Mountbatten in the third and fourth seasons of The Crown , earning an Emmy nomination for the latter.


Early life

Charles Dance was born 10 October 1946, in Redditch, Worcestershire, the son of Eleanor Marion ( née Perks; 1911–1984), a cook, and Walter Dance (1874–1949), an electrical engineer, who had served as a sergeant in the 2nd Regular Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) during the Second Boer War in South Africa (having previously served in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion). [1] [2] Dance had two older half-sisters, Norah (1898–1993) and Mary (1903–1908), from his father's previous marriage. [3]

When Dance was about three years old, his father died. He had always thought that his father had been in his early fifties when this happened, but later discovered that he was actually some 26 years older than he had believed. Dance disclosed in an interview that his mother had been arranged to a mental institute when he was a child. During filming of an episode for the genealogical series Who Do You Think You Are? in 2016, Dance also discovered that through his maternal line, he is of partial Belgian ancestry, descended from a family whose roots lay in Spa. His immigrant ancestor Charles François Futvoye (1777–1847) had been a pioneer in the art of Japanning during the early half of the 19th century, and a resident of Marylebone in London. [4]

Growing up in Plymouth, Devon, Dance attended Widey Technical School for Boys (it was closed in 1988, then known as Widey High School) in Crownhill. [5] He later attended Plymouth College of Art and the Leicester College of Arts (now known as De Montfort University), where he studied graphic design and photography. [6]


Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Dance was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company during the mid-to-late 1970s and was in many of their productions in London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Later he returned to the RSC to take the title role in Coriolanus at Stratford-upon-Avon and Newcastle in 1989, and at the Barbican Theatre in 1990. He received rave reviews and a Critics' Circle Best Actor award for his performance as C. S. Lewis in William Nicholson's Shadowlands , in the 2007 stage revival. [7]

Television and film

Dance made his screen debut in 1974, in the ITV series Father Brown as Commandant Neil O'Brien in "The Secret Garden". Other small parts followed, including a 1983 cameo as a South African assassin in The Professionals , but his big break came the following year when he played the major role of Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown (Granada Television, Christopher Morahan 1984), an adaptation of Paul Scott's novels that also made stars of Geraldine James and Art Malik. Dance made one of his earliest big-screen appearances in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only as evil henchman Claus. Though he turned down the opportunity to screen test for the James Bond role, [8] in 1989 he played Bond creator Ian Fleming in Anglia Television's dramatised biography directed by Don Boyd, Goldeneye (the name of Fleming's estate in Jamaica and a title later used for a James Bond film).

He has also starred in many other British television dramas such as Edward the Seventh (as dissolute Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, Edward VII's oldest son, and heir to the throne), Murder Rooms , Randall and Hopkirk , Rebecca , The Phantom of the Opera , Fingersmith and Bleak House (for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie). He was name-checked in the British comedy series Absolutely Fabulous , as being slated to play the title character in The Life of Jesus Christ 2, which was filming in Morocco at the same time as the main characters of the series were there for a photo shoot. He also played Guy Spencer, the pro-Hitler propagandist, in the second instalment of Foyle's War , and had an ongoing role as Dr. Maltravers in the ITV drama Trinity . [9]

Dance made a guest appearance on the BBC drama series Merlin as the Witchfinder Aredian, [10] and as a vainglorious version of himself in the third series of Jam & Jerusalem . He played Lord Vetinari in the 2010 Sky adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal , and as the Russian oligarch Aleksandr Borinski in Paris Connections . [11] He played the role of Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones , based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin. Dance was wooed for the role by the producers while filming Your Highness in Belfast. [12] Dance also played Conrad Knox on the British television series Strike Back: Vengeance as the primary villain in the series. [13]

On 30 June 2013, Dance appeared with other celebrities in an episode of the BBC's Top Gear as a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" for the debut of the Vauxhall Astra. [14] In summer 2018, Dance narrated a documentary entitled Spitfire, which featured the legendary Supermarine Spitfire and recounted the efforts of the RAF pilots who flew them during the Second World War.

In 2019, he played an antagonist in Godzilla: King of the Monsters and appeared as Lord Mountbatten in series 3 of The Crown later in the same year.

In 2020, Dance portrayed William Randolph Hearst in David Fincher's Mank , co-starring alongside Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried. [15]

In January 2021, Dance was cast in the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman . [16]

Screenwriting and directing

Dance's debut film as a writer and director was Ladies in Lavender (2004), which starred Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. In 2009, he directed his own adaptation of Alice Thomas Ellis's The Inn at the Edge of the World.

Personal life

Dance married Joanna Haythorn in 1970. They have two children, Oliver Matthew (born 1974) and Rebecca (born 1980). [17] [18] Haythorn and Dance divorced in 2004. In 2012, Dance and his partner Eleanor Boorman had a daughter, Rose Boorman. The pair have since separated. [19]


Dance was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 17 June 2006. [20]



1981 For Your Eyes Only Claus
1985 Plenty Raymond Brock
1986 The Golden Child Sardo Numspa
1987 White Mischief Josslyn Hay
Good Morning, Babylon D. W. Griffith
Hidden City James Richards
1988 Pascali's Island Anthony Bowles
1992 Alien 3 Clemens
1993 Last Action Hero Benedict
Century Professor Mandry
1994 China Moon Rupert Munro
Kabloonak Robert J. Flaherty Paris Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Shortcut to ParadiseQuinn
1995The SurgeonDr. Ed Mittlesbay
1996 Space Truckers Nabel / Macanudo
Michael Collins Soames
1997 The Blood Oranges Cyril
1998 What Rats Won't Do Gerald
Hilary and Jackie Derek Du Pré
1999 Don't Go Breaking My Heart Frank
2001 Gosford Park Raymond Stockbridge
JurijPadre di Jurij
Dark Blue World Wing Commander Bentley
2002 Black and White Roderic Chamberlain
Ali G Indahouse David Carlton
2003 Swimming Pool John Bosload
2003LabyrinthCharles Lushington
City and CrimesCox William
Ladies in Lavender Director
Executive producer
2006 Dolls NarratorVoice; short film
Scoop Mr. Malcolm
Twice Upon a TimeMaster of Ceremonies
Starter for 10 Michael Harbinson
2007 The Contractor DCS Andrew Windsor Direct-to-DVD
Intervention Private Investigator
2010 Paris Connections Aleksandr Borinski
The CommuterTraffic WardenShort film
2011 Ironclad Archbishop Langton
Your Highness King Tallious
There Be Dragons Monsignor Solano
2012 Midnight's Children William Methwold
Underworld: Awakening Thomas
St George's Day Trenchard
2013 Patrick Doctor Roget
Justin and the Knights of Valour LegantirVoice
2014 Viy Lord DudleyCredited as Charlz Dens
Dracula Untold Master Vampire
The Imitation Game Commander Alastair Denniston
2015 Victor Frankenstein Frankenstein
Michiel de Ruyter Charles II
Woman in Gold Sherman
Child 44 Major Grachev
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Mr. Bennet
2016 Me Before You Stephen Traynor
Ghostbusters Harold Filmore
Despite the Falling Snow Old Alexander
Underworld: Blood Wars Thomas
2017 Euphoria Mr. Daren
That Good Night The Visitor
2018 Johnny English Strikes Again Agent SevenCameo
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead Bertie
2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters Alan Jonah
Viy 2: Journey to China Lord Dudley
Fanny Lye Deliver'd John Lye
2020 The Book of Vision Johan Anmuth
Mank William Randolph Hearst [15]
2021 The King's Man General Kitchener [21] Post-production [22]
Against The Ice


1974 Father Brown Commandant Neil O'BrienEpisode: "The Secret Garden"
The InheritorsSimon LeadbetterEpisode: "Fathers and Sons"
1975 Edward the Seventh Prince Eddy 2 episodes
1977 Raffles Teddy GarlandEpisode: "Mr. Justice Raffles"
1980, 1984 Play for Today Colin / Captain John Truman2 episodes
1982Nancy AstorEdward Hartford-JonesEpisode: "Guest for the Weekend"
1983 The Professionals ParkerEpisode: "The Ojuka Situation"
The Last DayAlanTelevision
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Guy Perron5 episodes
The Secret ServantHarry MaximMini-series
1985Time for MurderJames LatimerEpisode: "This Lightning Always Strikes Twice"
1987 Out on a Limb Cpt. Truman2 episodes
Tales of the Unexpected Robert SmytheEpisode: "Skeleton in the Cupboard"
1988 First Born Edward Forester3 episodes
Out of the ShadowsMichael HaydenTelevision film
1989 Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming Ian Fleming 2 episodes
Mission: Impossible Prime MinisterEpisode: "Command Performance"
1990 The Phantom of the Opera Erik/The Phantom 2 episodes
1996 Undertow Lyle YatesTelevision film
1997 Rebecca Maxim de Winter2 episodes
In the Presence of Mine Enemies Captain RichterTelevision film
1999Chrono-PerambulatorJames "Dougie" DouglasTelevision short
2000The Real SpartacusNarrator
Mysteries of the Real Sherlock HolmesSir Henry CarlyleEpisode: "The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes"
A History of Britain Winston Churchill (voice)Episode: "The Two Winstons"
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Kenneth CrisbyEpisode: "Drop Dead"
2001 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Ralph NicklebyTelevision film
2002 Foyle's War Guy SpencerEpisode: "The White Feather"
Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future Col. Simon Lasker (voice)Episode: "Pilot of the Future"
2003 Henry VIII Duke of Buckingham Television film
Trial and RetributionGreg HarwoodTelevision film
Looking for Victoria Charles Greville Television film
2004When Hitler Invaded BritainNarratorDocumentary
Saint John Bosco: Mission to Love Marquis ClementiTelevision film
2005 Fingersmith Mr. Lilly2 episodes
Bleak House Mr. Tulkinghorn12 episodes
To the Ends of the Earth Sir Henry SomersetEpisode: "Close Quarters"
Last Rights Richard Wheeler3 episodes
Titanic: Birth of a LegendNarratorDocumentary
2006 Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs Septimus BlighEpisode: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"
2007Fallen AngelDavid Byfield3 episodes
Consenting Adults John Wolfenden Television film
2009 Merlin Aredian Episode: "The Witchfinder"
Trinity Dr. Edmund Maltravers8 episodes
2010 Going Postal Havelock Vetinari 2 episodes
2010–2011Rosamunde Pilchers's Shades of LoveEdmund Aird4 episodes
2011–2015 Game of Thrones Tywin Lannister 27 episodes
2011 Neverland Dr. Richard FluddEpisode: "Part 1"
2012 Secret State John Hodder4 episodes
Strike Back: Vengeance Conrad Knox10 episodes
2013 Bones of the Buddha NarratorDocumentary
2014 The Great Fire Lord Denton4 episodes
2015 Childhood's End Karellen3 episodes
Deadline Gallipoli General Ian Hamilton 2 episodes
And Then There Were None Justice Lawrence Wargrave3 episodes
2018 The Woman in White Mr. Fredrick Fairlie4 episodes
Hang Ups Jeremy Pitt4 episodes
The Little Drummer Girl Commander Picton2 episodes
2019 The Widow Martin Benson7 episodes
2019–2020 The Crown Lord Mountbatten 5 episodes
2020 Rise of Empires: Ottoman Narrator6 episodes
The Singapore Grip Mr. WebbEpisode: "Singapore for Beginners"
2021 The Sandman Roderick Burgess Upcoming series

Video games

Year(s)TitleVoice roleNotesRef.
2015 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Emperor Emhyr var EmreisEnglish Dub [23] [24]
2018 Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Godfrey The Butler"Dead of the Night" Zombies Map [25] [26]


Year(s)TitleAuthorVoice roleISBNNotesRef.
1985 The Fourth Protocol Frederick ForsythNarrator0886461340Voice [27]


Year(s)TitleVoice roleNotesRef
2020HindsightNarratorAn Al Jazeera Podcast [28]

Theatre credits


Awards and nominations

BAFTA TV Awards 1985 Best Actor The Jewel in the Crown Nominated [29]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2002 Best Acting Ensemble Gosford Park Won [30]
Primetime Emmy Awards 2006 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Bleak House Nominated [31]
2018 Outstanding Narrator Savage KingdomNominated
2019 Nominated
2021 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The Crown Pending
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2002 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Gosford ParkWon [32]
2014 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Game of Thrones Nominated
2015 Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Imitation Game Nominated
2020 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesThe CrownWon

Further reading

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