Adrian Lester
Anthony Harvey

Birmingham, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation(s)Actor, writer, director
Years active1987–present
(m. 1997)
RelativesReeta Chakrabarti (sister-in-law)

Adrian Anthony Lester CBE (born Anthony Harvey) is an English actor, director and writer. He is the recipient of a Laurence Olivier Award, an Evening Standard Theatre Award and a Critics' Circle Theatre Award for his work on the London stage, and has also been nominated for a Tony Award.

Early life and education

Lester was born in Birmingham, the son of Jamaican immigrants, Monica, a medical secretary, and Reginald, a manager for a contract cleaning company.[2][3][4]

From the age of nine, Lester sang as a boy treble in the choir of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham. At 14, he began acting with the Birmingham Youth Theatre.[citation needed] After leaving Archbishop Masterson RC School, Lester attended Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College for one year, before completing three years of training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.[citation needed]



Lester received an Ian Charleson Award commendation[5] and a Time Out Award[6] for his 1991 performance as Rosalind in Cheek by Jowl's all-male production of As You Like It.[7] In 1992 he played Paul in the UK premiere of John Guare's Six Degrees Of Separation, alongside Stockard Channing at the Royal Court Theatre in a production that transferred to the West End's Comedy Theatre. In 1993, he played Anthony Hope in the National Theatre's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.[8] He has also appeared on stage as Robert in the Donmar Warehouse production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company, for which he won an Olivier Award, and in the title role of Hamlet[9] (Carlton TV Theatre Award).

In 2003, he played the title role in Henry V at the National Theatre.

In 2010, he played the part of Brick in Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London.

In 2012, he appeared as Ira Aldridge in the play Red Velvet, written by his wife Lolita Chakrabarti.

Lester played the part of Othello in the Shakespeare play of the same name in 2013 alongside Rory Kinnear as Iago at the National Theatre. Both actors won the Best Actor award in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for their roles; the award is traditionally given to only one actor, but the judges were unable to choose between the pair.[10]

In 2018, he played Sky Masterson in the Royal Albert Hall production of Guys and Dolls.[11]

In 2021, he appeared in the live-streamed production of Hymn written by his wife Lolita Chakrabarti for the Almeida Theatre. The play co-starred Danny Sapani and was performed with social distancing in place in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.[12]

He made his Broadway debut in the 2021 production of The Lehman Trilogy, directed by Sam Mendes. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination.[13]


In 1997, Lester starred in an episode of Silent Witness. It was in a two-part episode of series two entitled "Cease upon the Midnight", where he played the part of Danny Morris.

He is known for playing a big-time con artist named Michael "Mickey Bricks" Stone on the BBC television series Hustle between 2004 and 2012. The character was written out of the fourth series and replaced by Ashley Walters, although Lester returned from the fifth series (2009) onwards.

On American television, he appeared on the sitcom Girlfriends from 2002 to 2003, as Ellis Carter, a film star who dated Tracee Ellis Ross's character, Joan Clayton.

In late 2005, he had a major guest-starring role in Channel 4's police drama The Ghost Squad.

In 2008, he starred on the BBC drama Bonekickers, a programme focusing on a team of archaeologists.

He played the character Myror in a 2009 episode of the British television drama Merlin.[14]


Lester played campaign manager Henry Burton in Mike Nichols' film Primary Colors (1998), based on the novel by Anonymous (Joe Klein). His character is believed to represent George Stephanopoulos. This part earned him a Chicago Film Critics Association award nomination for "Most Promising Actor".

He appeared in Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost, a musical adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, set in the 1930s. The film itself was poorly received, but Lester received a British Independent Film Awards nomination for his performance.

In The Day After Tomorrow, Lester had a small but important role as Simon, one of the three researchers who drink a toast of "twelve-year-old Scotch" shortly before freezing to death.

He filmed scenes for Spider-Man 3 (2007), as a research scientist who is sought after by the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) to find a cure for his ailing daughter. He was seen in one teaser trailer for the film; however, his scenes were cut from the final theatrical version.

Other work

In 2010, Lester appeared in the documentary When Romeo Met Juliet together with his wife Lolita Chakrabarti as acting mentors to the pupils of two Coventry schools involved in a production of Romeo and Juliet.

He recorded Alpha Force: Survival, an audio book written by Chris Ryan.

Personal life

In 1997 Lester married actress and writer Lolita Chakrabarti, whom he met while they were both students at RADA.[15][16] They live in East Dulwich, south-east London with their two daughters.[17][18][19]

In 2007, Lester took part in Empire's Children, a Channel 4 documentary exploring the journey taken by the "Windrush Generation" to the United Kingdom. Lester's grandfather, Kenneth Nathaniel Lester, was to be included in the documentary, but was unwell during filming in Jamaica and could not be interviewed. Kenneth died soon after the documentary completed filming and never saw the programme aired.[citation needed]

In April 2013, Lester appeared on the Cultural Exchange feature of Front Row on BBC Radio 4, a feature of the programme where people had to choose a piece of art that meant a great deal to them. He chose "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley.

Lester holds a 4th Dan black belt in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo.[20][21]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Les Soeurs Soleil Isaac Nelson
1997 Up on the Roof Scott
1998 Primary Colors Henry Burton
2000 Love's Labour's Lost Dumaine
2000 Maybe Baby George
2000 Best Rocky
2000 Born Romantic Jimmy
2001 Dust "Edge"
2002 The Final Curtain Jonathan Stitch
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Simon
2006 As You Like It Oliver De Boys
2006 Scenes of a Sexual Nature Peter Brian "Pete" Maxwell
2007 Spider-Man 3 Dr. Wallace Scenes deleted
2007 Starting Out in the Evening Casey Davies
2008 Doomsday Sergeant Norton
2009 Case 39 Wayne
2013 Jimi: All Is by My Side Michael X
2017 Grey Lady Julius Johnson
2017 Euphoria Aron
2018 Mary Queen of Scots Lord Randolph


Year Title Role Notes
1987 A Sort of Innocence Dave 1 episode
1988 Boon Fast Eddie's Staff Member Episode: "Beef Encounter"
1991 For the Greater Good Young Gay Man Episode: "Member"
1992 Touch and Die Lute TV film
The Bill Dotun Konchella Episode: "Just Send Some Flowers"
1995 The Affair Ray TV film
1996 Soldier Soldier Mokete Malange Episode: "Divided Loyalties"
Company Bobby TV film
1997 Silent Witness Danny Thomas Episode: "Cease Upon the Midnight"
2000 Storm Damage Danny TV film
Jason and the Argonauts Orpheus Mini-series
2002 The Tragedy of Hamlet Hamlet TV film
2002–2003 Girlfriends Ellis Carter 9 episodes
2004–2012 Hustle Mickey Stone Series regular
2005 Afterlife D.I. Felix George Episode: "Lower Than Bones"
The Ghost Squad D.I. Gus Philips Episode: "Colour Blind"
2006 Beyond Morris Fitch TV film
2007 Ballet Shoes Mr. Sholsky TV film
2008 Being Human Herrick Episode: "Pilot"
Bonekickers Ben Ergha Mini-series
2009 Merlin Myror Episode: "The Once and Future Queen"
Sleep With Me Richard TV film
2013 Robot Chicken Bow/Lego Man Episode: "Eaten by Cars"
2014–2015 Red Band Society Dr. Naday 4 episodes
2015 London Spy Professor Marcus Shaw Mini-series
2016 Undercover Nick Johnson Mini-series
2017 Riviera Robert Carver 10 episodes
2018 Trauma Jon Allerton Mini-series
2019 Curfew Simon Donahue 2 episodes
The Rook Conrad Grantchester Series regular
2020 Staged Adrian Lester Episode: "Ulysses"
Life David Aston Series regular
2022 Trigger Point Joel Nutkins 1 episode
The Undeclared War Andrew Makinde 6 episodes
2023–2024 Quentin Blake's Box of Treasures Narrator (voice) Animated series[22]
2024 Renegade Nell Earl of Poynton

Awards and honours

Lester was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours[23] and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours,[24][25] both for services to drama.

In July 2013, he received an honorary degree from the University of Warwick.[26]

In July 2019, Lester was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts at De Montfort University, Leicester.[27]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1994 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Supporting Performance in a Musical Sweeney Todd Nominated [28]
1995 Best Actor As You Like It Nominated [29]
1996 Best Actor in a Musical Company Won [30]
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising Actor Primary Colors Nominated [31]
2000 British Independent Film Award Best Actor Love's Labour's Lost Nominated [32]
2012 Evening Standard Theatre Award Best Actor Red Velvet Nominated [33][34]
Critics' Circle Theatre Award Best Actor Won [35]
2013 Evening Standard Theatre Award Best Actor Othello Won [36]
2016 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actor Red Velvet Nominated [37]
2022 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play The Lehman Trilogy Nominated [38]
Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated [39]


  1. ^ "Adrian Lester". Front Row. 25 April 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Touch of Colour takes Brum star Adrian to Hollywood". Sunday Mercury. 11 October 1998. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  3. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (3 February 2006). "The player; Not only is Adrian Lester the National Theatre's Henry V, he's also the chief con man in Hustle..." The Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  4. ^ Leitch, Luke (16 August 2002). "National's new chief casts black actor as Henry V." The Evening Standard. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  5. ^ Lees, Caroline. "Classic recipes for success". Sunday Times. 9 February 1992.
  6. ^ "Adrian Lester". Warwick University. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  7. ^ Donnellan, Declan (12 November 2014). "All you need is love: Adrian Lester and the miraculous all-male As You Like It". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Sondheim Guide / Sweeney Todd".
  9. ^ Billington, Michael (18 December 2008). "Archive theatre review: Who is Hamlet anyway?". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  10. ^ Kennedy, Maev (17 November 2013). "Othello and Iago share best actor prize in London Evening Standard awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  11. ^ Guys and Dolsl Royal Albert Hall
  12. ^ "Adrian Lester: 'As an artist, you have to promote the kind of work you want to see'". The Stage. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  13. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (6 October 2021). "Adrian Lester Finally Arrives on Broadway, via Wall Street". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  14. ^ ""Merlin" The Once and Future Queen (TV Episode 2009)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  15. ^ Dickson, E. Jane (3 April 2016). "Adrian Lester on Undercover: "It would be so much more powerful if we did all the press for this show without once mentioning colour"". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  16. ^ Patterson, Christina (6 January 2009). "Adrian Lester: Back on the Hustle". The Independent. Archived from the original on 19 January 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  17. ^ Machell, Ben (12 March 2016). "Adrian Lester on 29 years of marriage". The Times. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Adrian Lester Biography". Tina Price Consultants. 7 March 2019. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  19. ^ Lytton, Charlotte (13 June 2017). "Adrian Lester: 'Riviera is Dynasty-sur-Mer'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  20. ^ Group, Diversity. "Adrian Lester | The Diversity Group".
  21. ^ "My body & soul: Adrian Lester, actor, 40". The Guardian. 4 January 2009. Archived from the original on 14 February 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  22. ^ "BBC teases first look at Quentin Blake's Box of Treasures animated specials". Retrieved 11 December 2023.
  23. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 12.
  24. ^ "Birthday Honours 2020: Marcus Rashford and Joe Wicks honoured alongside key workers". BBC News. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  25. ^ "No. 63135". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 2020. p. B10.
  26. ^ "Warwick honorary degrees for stars of Gavin & Stacey & Hustle, RSC & Royal Court Artistic Directors, scientists, historians, philanthropist & a US government adviser". University of Warwick. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  27. ^ "CLASS OF 2019: 'We're all relying on you' graduates told". De Montfort University. 15 July 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Olivier Winners 1994". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  29. ^ "Olivier Winners 1995". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  30. ^ "Olivier Winners 1996". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Winners Nominations · BIFA · British Independent Film Awards". BIFA · British Independent Film Awards. 24 October 2000. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Evening Standard theatre awards shortlist embraces young talent". The Guardian. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  34. ^ "Danny Boyle And Dame Judi Dench Triumph At Theatre Awards". HuffPost UK. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  35. ^ "2012 Results | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards". 28 November 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  36. ^ Reporter, Evening Standard (18 November 2013). "London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2013: the winners and shortlist". Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  37. ^ "Olivier Winners 2016". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  38. ^ "Tony Awards 2022". Tony Awards. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  39. ^ "71st Outer Critics Circle Awards". Outer Critics Circle Awards. Retrieved 17 May 2022.