Charles Dance

Dance in July 2012
Walter Charles Dance

(1946-10-10) 10 October 1946 (age 77)
Years active1971–present
Joanna Haythorn
(m. 1970; div. 2004)

Walter Charles Dance OBE (born 10 October 1946) is an English actor. He is known for playing strict, authoritarian characters and villains. Dance started his career on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) before appearing in film and television. For his services to drama he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.[1]

He made his feature film debut in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981). He since acted in a string of critically acclaimed period films such as Michael Collins (1996), Gosford Park (2001), The Imitation Game (2014), Mank (2020), and The King's Man (2021). He has also appeared in the films The Golden Child (1986), Alien 3 (1992), Last Action Hero (1993), Dracula Untold (2014), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). He made his directorial film debut with the drama film Ladies in Lavender (2004), which he also wrote and executive produced.

On television, Dance played Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Mr Tulkinghorn in Bleak House (2005), Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones (2011–2015), and Lord Mountbatten in the third and fourth seasons of The Crown (2019–2020). For his role in The Crown, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

Early life

Walter Charles Dance was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, on 10 October 1946, the younger son of Eleanor Marion (née Perks; 1911–1984), a cook, and Walter Dance (1874–1949), an electrical engineer who served as a sergeant in the 2nd Regular Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers during the Second Boer War (having previously served in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion) and who was in his 70s when his younger son was born.[2][3] By his father's previous marriage, Dance had two older half-sisters, Norah (1898–1993) and Mary (1903–1908).[4] He also has an elder brother, Michael (born 1936).[5]

During filming of an episode for the genealogical series Who Do You Think You Are? in 2016, Dance also discovered that his mother had Belgian ancestry, which traced back to the city of 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.[4] Growing up in Plymouth, Dance attended the now-defunct Widey Technical School for Boys (then known as Widey High School) in Crownhill.[6] He later attended Arts University Plymouth and De Montfort University (then known as the Leicester College of Arts), where he studied graphic design and photography.[7]


Shadowlands at the Wyndham's.

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.[8]

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 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,[9] 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 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.[10]

Dance made a guest appearance on the BBC drama series Merlin as the Witchfinder Aredian,[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] Dance also played Conrad Knox on the British television series Strike Back: Vengeance as the primary villain in the series.[14]

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.[15] 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 in the same year.

In 2020, Dance portrayed William Randolph Hearst in David Fincher's Mank, co-starring alongside Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried.[16]

In January 2021, Dance was cast in the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman.[17]

Screenwriting and directing

Dance's debut film as a screenwriter 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 lives in North London. He married Joanna Haythorn in 1970, and they had a son named Oliver (born 1974) and a daughter named Rebecca (born 1980) before divorcing in 2004.[18][19] He later dated Eleanor Boorman from 2008 to 2012, and they had a daughter named Rose (born 2012).[20]

Political views

Dance has described his political views as "very left-of-centre"[21] and "a bit left of centre-left". He supported the UK remaining in the European Union in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum, and expressed his wish for the country to be closer to Europe to avoid "being a little satellite of America".[22] In a 2020 interview with the Financial Times, he felt NHS workers were not being offered a decent enough pay rise and called Boris Johnson a "bumbling buffoon".[23]

In light of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Dance was one of over two thousand to sign an Artists for Palestine letter calling for a ceasefire and accusing western governments of "not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them."[24] Dance contributed to a video published by the Palestine Festival of Literature in support of South Africa's legal motion accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).[25]


Dance was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 17 June 2006.[26]

Acting credits


Year Title Role Notes
1981 For Your Eyes Only Claus
1985 Plenty Raymond Brock
1986 The Golden Child Sardo Numspa
1987 White Mischief Josslyn Hay
Good Morning, Babylon Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Hidden City James Richards
Out on a Limb Gerry Stamford
1988 Pascali's Island Anthony Bowles
1992 Alien 3 Clemens
Kalkstein Surveyor
1993 Last Action Hero Mr. Benedict
Century Professor Mandry
1994 China Moon Rupert Munro
Kabloonak Robert J. Flaherty Paris Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Shortcut to Paradise Quinn
1995 The Surgeon Dr. 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
Jurij Padre di Jurij
Dark Blue World Wing Commander Bentley
2002 Black and White Roderic Chamberlain
Ali G Indahouse David Carlton
2003 Swimming Pool John Bosload
2003 Labyrinth Charles Lushington
City and Crimes Cox William
Ladies in Lavender Director, writer and executive producer only
2006 Dolls Narrator Voice; short film
Scoop Mr. Malcolm
Twice Upon a Time Master 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 Commuter Traffic Warden Short 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 Legantir Voice
2014 Viy Lord Dudley Credited by his name in Russian: Чарльз Дэнс, romanizedCharlz Dens
Dracula Untold Master Vampire
The Imitation Game Commander Alastair Denniston
2015 Victor Frankenstein Baron 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 Seven Cameo
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 [16]
2021 The King's Man Lord Kitchener [27]
2022 Against the Ice Neergaard
Lancaster Narrator
The Hanging Sun Jacob
TBA The Liar Tickford Post-production
Rumours (upcoming film) TBA Post-production
Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Father Brown Commandant Neil O'Brien Episode: "The Secret Garden"
The Inheritors Simon Leadbetter Episode: "Fathers and Sons"
1975 Edward the Seventh Prince Eddy 2 episodes
1977 Raffles Teddy Garland Episode: "Mr. Justice Raffles"
1980, 1984 Play for Today Colin / Captain John Truman 2 episodes
1982 Nancy Astor Edward Hartford-Jones Episode: "Guest for the Weekend"
1983 The Professionals Parker Episode: "The Ojuka Situation"
The Last Day Alan Television
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Guy Perron 5 episodes
The Secret Servant Harry Maxim Mini-series
1985 Time for Murder James Latimer Episode: "This Lightning Always Strikes Twice"
1987 Out on a Limb Gerry Stamford 2 episodes
Tales of the Unexpected Robert Smythe Episode: "Skeleton in the Cupboard"
1988 First Born Edward Forester 3 episodes
Out of the Shadows Michael Hayden Television film
1989 Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming Ian Fleming 2 episodes
Mission: Impossible Prime Minister Episode: "Command Performance"
1990 The Phantom of the Opera Erik/The Phantom 2 episodes
1996 Undertow Lyle Yates Television film
1997 Rebecca Maxim de Winter 2 episodes
In the Presence of Mine Enemies Captain Richter Television film
1999 Chrono-Perambulator James "Dougie" Douglas Television short
2000 The Real Spartacus Narrator
Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes Sir Henry Carlyle Episode: "The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes"
A History of Britain Winston Churchill (voice) Episode: "The Two Winstons"
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Kenneth Crisby Episode: "Drop Dead"
2001 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Ralph Nickleby Television film
2002 Foyle's War Guy Spencer Episode: "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 & Retribution Greg Harwood Television film
Looking for Victoria Charles Greville Television film
2004 When Hitler Invaded Britain Narrator Documentary
Saint John Bosco: Mission to Love Marquis Clementi Television film
2005 Fingersmith Mr. Lilly 2 episodes
Bleak House Mr. Tulkinghorn 12 episodes
To the Ends of the Earth Sir Henry Somerset Episode: "Close Quarters"
Last Rights Richard Wheeler 3 episodes
Titanic: Birth of a Legend Narrator Documentary
2006 Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs Septimus Bligh Episode: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"
2007 Fallen Angel David Byfield 3 episodes
Consenting Adults John Wolfenden Television film
2009 Merlin Aredian Episode: "The Witchfinder"
Trinity Dr. Edmund Maltravers 8 episodes
2010 Going Postal Havelock Vetinari 2 episodes
2010–2011 Rosamunde Pilcher's Shades of Love Edmund Aird 4 episodes
2011–2015 Game of Thrones Tywin Lannister 27 episodes
2011 Neverland Dr. Richard Fludd Episode: "Part 1"
2012 Secret State John Hodder 4 episodes
Strike Back: Vengeance Conrad Knox 10 episodes
2013 Bones of the Buddha Narrator Documentary
2014 The Great Fire Lord Denton 4 episodes
2015 Childhood's End Karellen 3 episodes
Deadline Gallipoli General Ian Hamilton 2 episodes
And Then There Were None Justice Lawrence Wargrave 3 episodes
2018 The Woman in White Mr. Fredrick Fairlie 4 episodes
Hang Ups Jeremy Pitt 4 episodes
The Little Drummer Girl Commander Picton 2 episodes
2019 The Widow Martin Benson 7 episodes
2019–2020 The Crown Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma Main role (Seasons 34)
5 episodes
2020 The Singapore Grip Mr. Webb Episode: "Singapore for Beginners"
2020–2022 Rise of Empires: Ottoman Narrator 12 episodes
2022 The Sandman Roderick Burgess 1 episode
The Serpent Queen Pope Clement VII 2 episodes
This England Max Hastings 1 episode
2023 Rabbit Hole Ben Wilson 8 episodes

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes Ref.
2015 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Emperor Emhyr var Emreis English Dub [28][29]
2018 Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Godfrey The Butler "Dead of the Night" Zombies Map [30][31]


Year Title Author Voice role Ref.
1985 The Fourth Protocol Frederick Forsyth Narrator [32]


Year Title Voice role Notes Ref.
2020 Hindsight Narrator An Al Jazeera Podcast [33]


Awards and nominations

Organizations Year Category Work Result Ref.
BAFTA TV Awards 1985 Best Actor The Jewel in the Crown Nominated [34]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2002 Best Acting Ensemble Gosford Park Won [35]
Primetime Emmy Awards 2006 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Bleak House Nominated [36]
2018 Outstanding Narrator Savage Kingdom Nominated
2019 Nominated
2021 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The Crown Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2002 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Gosford Park Won [37]
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 Series The Crown Won

Further reading


  1. ^ London Gazette issue 58014 17 June 2006 page 10
  2. ^ "Charles Dance Biography (1946–)". Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Charles Dance - Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Charles Dance on Who Do You Think You Are?: Everything you need to know". Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Charles Dance - Who Do You Think You Are - A secret family and a tragic accident..." Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  6. ^ "Widey High School, previously Widey Technical Secondary School, previously Plymouth Junior Technical School". Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Winter is coming. DMU Alumnus is back on our screens with the return of Game of Thrones". Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  8. ^ Nicholas de Jongh (9 October 2007). "Dance is poignant perfection – Theatre & Dance – Arts – London Evening Standard". Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Dance as the man who created James Bond". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  10. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (15 July 2008). "ITV2 plans 'sex, drugs and murder' drama to follow Billie Piper hit series". London. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
  11. ^ "Guest stars confirmed for 'Merlin' – Merlin News – Cult". Digital Spy. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  12. ^ Gibson, Linda (25 May 2010). "Interview Extra". TV Choice Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Game of Thrones: News – Charles Dance Cast as Tywin Lannister". 29 July 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Strike Back: Vengeance on Sky 1 HD". 15 August 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Top Gear returns to BBC Two at 8pm, featuring Warwick Davis, Charles Dance and Joss Stone". TV Newsroom. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  16. ^ a b ‘Mank’: Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, ‘Downton Abbey's Tuppence Middleton & More Join David Fincher Pic
  17. ^ Neil Gaiman's ‘The Sandman’ Casts Tom Sturridge, Gwendoline Christie, Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry And Sanjeev Bhaskar
  18. ^ Riggs, Thomas (2006). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 67. Gale / Cengage Learning. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-7876-9040-3.
  19. ^ Walker, Tim (24 September 2010). "Charles Dance is to marry his artist girlfriend". The Daily Telegraph. London. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  20. ^ Bayley, Jon (11 December 2017). "The celebrities you didn't realise are forever connected to Plymouth". Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  21. ^ McMullen, Marion (2012). "Of Joy". Coventry Newspapers. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  22. ^ Powell, Emma (24 June 2016). "Charles Dance on EU Referendum: Britain should avoid becoming a 'satellite of America'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  23. ^ Gilmour, Alexander (12 September 2020). "Charles Dance: 'I'm not a movie star, I'm a working actor'". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  24. ^ "Tilda Swinton among 2000+ artists calling for Gaza ceasefire". Artists for Palestine. 17 October 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  25. ^ Roxborough, Scott (12 January 2024). "Susan Sarandon, Charles Dance, Cynthia Nixon Among Stars Supporting South Africa's Genocide Charges Against Israel'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  26. ^ London Gazette issue 58014 17 June 2006 page 10
  27. ^ Sneider, Jeffrey (29 November 2018). "Exclusive: 'Game of Thrones' Star Joins 'Kingsman' Prequel; Rhys Ifans in Talks". Collider. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  28. ^ "The Witcher – News". CD Projekt Red. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  29. ^ "Charles Dance - 2 Character Images". Behind The Voice Actors.
  30. ^ Wade, Jessie (12 December 2018). "Game of Thrones, Metal Gear Stars among Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Zombies Mode Cast". IGN. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  31. ^ McWhertor, Michael (13 December 2018). "Black Ops 4's new Zombies mode stars Kiefer Sutherland, Helena Bonham Carter". Polygon. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  32. ^ "The Fourth Protocol". Dh Audio. 1985.
  33. ^ "Al Jazeera Podcasts Launches Historical Docudrama Series, Hindsight". Al Jazeera Media Network. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  34. ^ "Television in 1985 - BAFTA Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 16 April 2020.
  35. ^ "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards 2001". Broadcast Film Critics Association. 11 January 2002. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  36. ^ "Charles Dance". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 14 July 2021.
  37. ^ "Search - Screen Actors Guild Awards". 16 April 2020. Search for Charles Dance.