19 May 1939
Mary Elizabeth Piper
(m. 1973; died 2020)
|Children||5, including Jack and Laurence|
|Parent||Robin Fox (father)|
William Fox (born 19 May 1939), known professionally as James Fox, is an English actor. He appeared in several notable films of the 1960s and early 1970s, including King Rat, The Servant, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Performance, before quitting the screen for several years to be an evangelical Christian. He has since appeared in a wide range of film and television productions.
Fox was born on 19 May 1939 in London, the second son of theatrical agent Robin Fox and actress Angela Worthington. His elder brother is actor Edward Fox and his younger brother is film producer Robert Fox. His maternal grandfather was playwright Frederick Lonsdale. Like several members of the Fox family, he attended Harrow School. After leaving Harrow, Fox took a short service commission in the Coldstream Guards.
Fox first appeared on film in The Miniver Story in 1950. His early screen appearances, both in film and television, were made under his birth name, William Fox.
He was working in a bank when Tony Richardson offered him a minor role in the film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). Fox's father attempted to forbid this, claiming that his son had no talent for acting and that it would disrupt his life for him to give up his job in the bank; nevertheless, Fox took the part.
In 1964, he won a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his role in The Servant (1963).
On 16 June 1965, Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines was released. In this British period comedy film, Fox is featured among an international ensemble cast including Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Robert Morley, Terry-Thomas, Red Skelton, Benny Hill, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Gert Fröbe and Alberto Sordi. The film, revolving around the craze of early aviation around 1910, is about a pompous newspaper magnate (Morley) who is convinced by his daughter (Miles) and her fiancé (Fox), a young army officer, to organize an air race from London to Paris. A large sum of money is offered to the winner, attracting a variety of characters to participate. The film received positive reviews, being described as funny, colourful and clever, and as capturing the early enthusiasm for aviation. It was treated as a major production, one of only three full-length 70 mm Todd-AO Fox releases in 1965 with an intermission and musical interlude part of the original screenings. The film was initially an exclusive roadshow presentation shown in deluxe Cinerama venues, where customers needed reserved seats purchased ahead of time. The film grossed $31,111,111 theatrically and on home video $29,950,000. Audience reaction, both in first release and even today, is nearly universal in assessing the film as one of the "classic" aviation films.
Some of the other films he acted in during this time are King Rat (1965), The Chase (1966), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Isadora (1968), and Performance (1970).
After finishing work on Performance (released 1970, but shot in 1968), Fox suspended his acting career. The film co-starring James Fox and Mick Jagger was deemed so outrageous that critics at a preview screening walked out, with one film executive's wife reportedly throwing up in the cinema.
In a 2008 interview, he said: "It was just part of my journey...I think my journey was to spend a while away from acting. And I never lost contact with it – watching movies, reading about it ... so I didn't feel I missed it."
He became an evangelical Christian, working with the Navigators and devoting himself to the ministry. During this time, the only film in which Fox appeared was No Longer Alone (1976), the story of Joan Winmill Brown, a suicidal woman who was led to faith in Jesus Christ by Ruth Bell Graham.
After an absence from acting of several years, in 1981 Fox appeared on television in the Play for Today "Country" by Trevor Griffiths, a comedy drama set against the 1945 UK parliamentary elections. On film he starred in Stephen Poliakoff's Runners (1983), A Passage to India (1984), and Comrades (1986). He played Anthony Blunt in the BBC play by Alan Bennett, A Question of Attribution (1992). He also portrayed the character of Lord Holmes in Patriot Games (1992), as well as Colonel Ferguson in Farewell to the King and the Nazi-sympathising aristocrat Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day (1993).
He has since appeared in the 2000 film Sexy Beast, the 2001 adaptation of The Lost World as Prof. Leo Summerlee, Agatha Christie's Poirot – Death on the Nile (2004) as Colonel Race and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) playing Mr. Salt, Veruca Salt's father. He appeared in the Doctor Who audio drama Shada, and in 2007, he guest-starred in the British television crime series Waking the Dead. He also appeared opposite his son Laurence Fox in "Allegory of Love", an episode in the third series of Lewis. He was part of the cast of Sherlock Holmes (2009), as Sir Thomas, leading member of a freemason-like secret society.
In 2010, he filmed Cleanskin, a terrorist thriller directed by Hadi Hajaig, and in 2011 he played King George V in Madonna's film W.E.
Fox married Mary Elizabeth Piper in September 1973, with whom he has five children: four sons, Robin, Thomas, Laurence, Jack, and a daughter, Lydia. Piper died at their home on 19 April 2020.
Through his daughter Lydia, his son-in-law is actor Richard Ayoade. His former daughter-in-law is actress Billie Piper, who was married to his son Laurence from 2007 to 2016.
|1950||The Miniver Story||Toby Miniver|
|The Magnet||Johnny Brent|
|1962||The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner||Gunthorpe|
|1965||King Rat||Flight Lieutenant Peter Marlowe|
|Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines||Richard Mays|
|1966||The Chase||Jason 'Jake' Rogers|
|1967||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Jimmy Smith|
|1984||Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes||Lord Charles Esker|
|A Passage to India||Richard Fielding|
|1986||Absolute Beginners||Henley of Mayfair, Dressmaker to the Queen|
|The Whistle Blower||Lord|
|Comrades||Governor William Norfolk|
|1989||Farewell to the King||Colonel Ferguson|
|The Mighty Quinn||Thomas Elgin|
|1990||The Russia House||Ned|
|1991||Afraid of the Dark||Frank|
|1992||Patriot Games||Lord William Holmes|
|1993||The Remains of the Day||Lord Darlington|
|1997||Anna Karenina||Aleksei Aleksandrovich Karenin|
|Never Ever||Arthur Trevane|
|1999||Mickey Blue Eyes||Philip Cromwell|
|2000||Up at the Villa||Sir Edgar Swift|
|The Golden Bowl||Colonel Bob Assingham|
|2001||Lover's Prayer||Old Vladimir||Voice|
|The Mystic Masseur||Mr. Stewart|
|2004||The Prince and Me||King Haraald|
|2005||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||Mr. Salt|
|2007||Mister Lonely||The Pope|
|2009||Sherlock Holmes||Sir Thomas Rotheram|
|2010||Wide Blue Yonder||George|
|2011||W.E.||King George V|
|2013||A Long Way From Home||Joseph|
|The Double||The Colonel|
|Effie Gray||Sir Charles Eastlake|
|2018||Surviving Christmas with the Relatives||Uncle John|
|1959||Armchair Theatre||Jay Minton||Episode: Light from a Star|
|1981||Play for Today||Philip Carlion||Episode: Country|
|1982||Nancy Astor||Waldorf Astor||TV Mini-series|
|1983||Anna Pavlova||Victor Dandré|
|The Road to 1984||George Orwell||TV Movie|
|1989||She's Been Away||Hugh Ambrose||TV Movie|
|1990||Never Come Back||Foster||TV Mini-series|
|1992||A Question of Attribution||Sir Anthony Blunt||TV Movie|
|1993||Heart of Darkness||Gosse||TV Movie|
|1994||The Dwelling Place||Lord Fischel||TV Mini-series, 3 episodes|
|Doomsday Gun||Sir James Whittington||TV Movie|
|The Old Curiosity Shop||The Single Gentleman||TV Mini-series|
|1995||The Choir||The Dean, Hugh Cavendish||TV Mini-series, 5 episodes|
|1996||Gulliver's Travels||Dr. Bates||TV Mini-series|
|2001||Armadillo||Sir Simon Sherrifmuir|
|The Lost World||Prof. Leo Summerlee||TV Movie|
|2002||The Falklands Play||Lord Carrington KCMG MC PC (Foreign Secretary)|
|2003||Cambridge Spies||Lord Halifax||TV Mini-series|
|2003||Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale||Jonas Collin||TV Movie|
|2004||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Colonel Race||Episode: Death on the Nile|
|2005||Agatha Christie's Marple||Colonel Arthur Bantry||Episode: The Body in the Library|
|Colditz||Lt. Colonel Jimmy Fordham||TV Mini-series|
|Absolute Power||Gerald Thurnham||Episode: Identity Crisis|
|2006||Suez: A Very British Crisis||Anthony Eden||TV Documentary|
|2007||Waking the Dead||Dr Bruno Rivelli||Episode: Mask of Sanity|
|2008||New Tricks||Ian Figgis||Episode: Spare Parts|
|2009||Lewis||Professor Norman Dearing||Episode: Allegory of Love|
|Margaret||Charles Powell||TV Movie|
|Red Riding 1980||Philip Evans||TV Movie|
|2010||Midsomer Murders||Sir Michael Fielding||Episode: Master Class|
|2011||Law & Order: UK||Dr. Edward Austen||Episode: The Wrong Man|
|2012||Merlin||King Rodor||Episode: Another's Sorrow|
|2013||Utopia||The Assistant||6 episodes|
|The Great Train Robbery||Henry Brooke||TV Movie|
|Downton Abbey||Lord Aysgarth||Episode: The London Season|
|2015||Death in Paradise||Martin Goodman||2 episodes|
|London Spy||James||Episode: Blue|