Laurence Fox
Fox in 2008
Born
Laurence Paul Fox

(1978-05-26) 26 May 1978 (age 45)
Leeds, England
Occupations
  • Actor
  • musician
  • political activist
Years active2001–present
Political partyReclaim
Spouse
(m. 2007; div. 2016)
Children2
FamilyFox

Laurence Paul Fox (born 26 May 1978) is an English actor, broadcaster, musician, and political activist. A member of the British entertainment industry's Fox family, he graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and debuted in the film The Hole (2001). His best known role is James Hathaway in the drama series Lewis (2006–2015). He has also released a studio album titled Holding Patterns (2016).

A conservative, Fox publicly criticised the George Floyd protests and COVID-19 vaccines in 2020. After founding the right-wing populist political party Reclaim, he stood unsuccessfully in the 2021 London mayoral election in opposition to what he deemed "extreme political correctness". He gained 1.9% of the vote, thus losing his election deposit. Fox's political career has resulted in several controversies and legal disputes.

Early life and education

Laurence Paul Fox was born in Leeds on 26 May 1978,[1][2][3][4] the son of Mary Elizabeth Piper and actor James Fox.[5] His paternal grandfather was talent agent Robin Fox and his paternal grandmother was actress Angela Worthington, whose father was playwright Frederick Lonsdale.[5] He has two older brothers named Tom and Robin, a younger sister named Lydia, and a younger brother named Jack. Robin is a film producer,[6] while Lydia and Jack are actors; Lydia is married to comedian and filmmaker Richard Ayoade.[7] Fox's uncles are actor Edward Fox and producer Robert Fox. He is also the cousin of actors Emilia and Freddie Fox, the children of his uncle Edward.[5]

Fox was raised as an evangelical Christian. At the age of 13, he was enrolled at Harrow School.[8] He was expelled a few weeks before taking his A-Level exams, and was unable to obtain a place at any university due to a report about him from Harrow.[9]

After working as a gardener[9] and in an office,[8] he decided to follow his family into acting, and successfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). During his time there, he appeared in numerous student productions, including the lead roles of Gregers Werle in Ibsen's The Wild Duck, Marcus Andronicus in Titus Andronicus, and Stephen Daedalus in an adaptation of James Joyce's novel Ulysses.[10] He graduated in 2001.[11][12]

Acting career

Fox made his acting debut in the horror-thriller film The Hole (2001). He next appeared in Robert Altman's film Gosford Park (2001). He then donned uniforms in a slew of film and television features, including roles as a German airman in Island at War (2004), an SS officer in The Last Drop (2005), and as British soldiers in the 2002 films Deathwatch and Ultimate Force, and in Colditz (2005). In the last made-for-television film, Fox played Capt. Tom Willis who, after an unsuccessful attempt to break out of a prisoner-of-war camp, is brought to Oflag IV-C in Colditz Castle, one of the most infamous German POW camps for officers in World War II. Actor Kevin Whately caught Fox's performance in the last ten minutes of the film. The next day, at a meeting regarding a new project, Whately mentioned that Fox "would be worth taking a look at".[13]

As a result, Fox was cast in the ITV detective drama Lewis as Detective Sergeant James Hathaway, who becomes the partner of Detective Inspector Robert Lewis, played by Whately. The pilot of this spin-off from Inspector Morse (1987–2000) was ITV's highest-rated drama of 2006.[14]

Fox has also portrayed Prince Charles, in Whatever Love Means (2005);[3][15] Wisley, one of Jane Austen's suitors, in Becoming Jane (2007); and Sir Christopher Hatton, the Lord Chancellor of England in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, also released in 2007. In addition, in that year Fox was seen on ITV as Cecil Vyse in Andrew Davies's adaptation of A Room with a View based on E.M. Forster's 1908 novel.

On stage, Fox appeared in Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw at the Strand Theatre (now the Novello Theatre) in London in 2002,[16] and John Ford's 17th-century play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore in 2005.[17] Between 2006 and 2007 he starred in Treats by Christopher Hampton with his future wife, Billie Piper.[18] In April 2007, Fox received a police caution after he was arrested for assault when he punched a photographer outside the Garrick Theatre in London where he was performing in Treats.[19] The caution remained on his record for three years.[20] In 2013, Fox played Guy Haines[21] in Strangers on a Train at London's Gielgud Theatre.[22] On 9 May 2015, he read a letter written by a soldier three days prior to his death in the Second World War, as part of VE Day 70: A Party to Remember, an anniversary concert for VE Day.[23]

Fox released his debut album Holding Patterns in 2016 through his own label Fox Cub Records.[24] His second album A Grief Observed was released in 2019.[25] Holding Patterns peaked at number 89 in the UK album chart.[26]

In 2018, Fox joined the cast of the ITV series Victoria, playing Lord Palmerston, for its third season, which first aired on PBS in January 2019.[27]

In November 2020, Fox was dropped by his talent agency Artists Rights Group after stating on Question Time that an audience member's description of him as a "white privileged male" was "racist". He had been dropped by his previous managers Authentic Talent earlier in the year.[28]

In 2021, Fox portrayed Hunter Biden in filmmaker Robert Davi's biopic My Son Hunter, starring alongside fellow conservatives Gina Carano and John James, the former of whom was also dropped by her agent after allegedly expressing some of the same opinions as Fox.[29] The film was distributed by the website Breitbart News.[29]

Broadcasting

Fox presented a regular Friday night slot on GB News.[30][31]

Main article: 2023 Laurence Fox GB News scandal

In September 2023, Fox was suspended by GB News after saying of female journalist Ava Evans: "Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever." Dan Wootton, the host of the show on which Fox spoke, along with Calvin Robinson, was also suspended.[32][33] Fox released on Twitter an apparent private message exchange with Wootton in which he had reacted approvingly to what Fox had said.[34]

In early October 2023, GB News confirmed that, following its investigation, it had terminated the contracts of Fox and Robinson.[35]

Views

Political correctness

In 2019, Fox told The Times that YouTube videos had "totally radicalised" him against "woke culture" and "political correctness".[36]

COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox frequently criticised the British government's response to the pandemic and encouraged people to disregard the government's social distancing guidance and disobey other public health restrictions.[37][38] During an interview on Good Morning Britain, he said that "if the NHS can't cope, then the NHS isn't fit for purpose". The show's hosts, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, censured this.[38] During a national lockdown in March 2021, Fox participated in an anti-lockdown protest.[39]

Racial issues

Appearing as a panellist on the BBC's political debate programme Question Time in January 2020, Fox said that Meghan Markle was not a victim of racism and described an audience member who called him a "white privileged male" as racist.[40] The British actors' union Equity called him "a disgrace to our industry" for his views, but withdrew its criticism and apologised two months later.[40]

In January 2020, Fox attracted media attention for stating that the depiction of a Sikh soldier in the film 1917 was "forced diversity" in spite of Sikh soldiers having fought on the Western Front in World War I.[41] When interviewed, he explained, "I suppose it would have been less incongruous to me if he'd got on the truck to a whole regiment of Sikh soldiers. [...] I mean, as you've noticed, I say quite a lot of unfortunate things, but I think it's really important that one is able to express one's opinion."[41] He followed by apologising on Twitter to "fellow humans who are Sikhs" and wrote, "I am as moved by the sacrifices your relatives made as I am by the loss of all those who die in war, whatever creed or colour. Please accept my apology for being clumsy in the way I expressed myself."[42]

In August 2021, Fox posted a tweet stating "get kneeling, fuckers" about the recent arrest of black footballer Benjamin Mendy on charges of rape and sexual assault. The tweet was removed by Twitter and the account was temporarily locked for violating its rules against "hateful conduct".[43]

In August 2023, Fox posted a photo of himself in blackface, describing himself as having "racially transitioned".[44]

Views on progress pride flag

In June 2022, Fox tweeted an image of a swastika made from the Progress Pride flag with the caption, "You can openly call the [Union Flag] a symbol of fascism and totalitarianism on Twatter [sic]. You cannot criticise the holy flags." This led to him being suspended from Twitter for a day.[45] His actions were publicly condemned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Campaign Against Antisemitism.[46][better source needed]

Political ambitions

Reclaim Party

Main article: Reclaim Party

In September 2020, Fox attracted funding for a new political party, provisionally called Reclaim,[47][48] and dubbed "UKIP for culture".[49] In October 2020, Fox became leader of the party, succeeding Jeremy Hosking.[50]

It emerged in October 2020 that the party name had yet to be successfully registered with the Electoral Commission and that there was a naming conflict with the "Reclaim Project" of Manchester, an established charity in Manchester endeavouring to give opportunities to working-class children.[51] The name Reclaim Party was approved in February 2021 as an identity mark for Brexit Express.[52][37]

In May 2023 the Reclaim Party gained its first MP, Andrew Bridgen, after he was expelled from the governing Conservative Party.[53] Bridgen resigned from the party in December 2023.[54]

In July 2023, Fox stood in the 2023 Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election as a Reclaim Party candidate.[55] He finished fourth with 2.3% of the vote, losing his deposit.[56]

2021 candidacy for London mayor

In March 2021, Fox announced he would stand in the London mayoral elections, in order to "fight against extreme political correctness" and pledging to "end the Met's obsession with diversity and inclusivity."[57][58] His candidacy was endorsed by Reform UK, who stood aside for him in the election, and Nigel Farage.[59][better source needed]

The major source of Fox's campaign funds was Brexit backer Jeremy Hosking,[60] who, in the first quarter of 2021, gave the Reclaim Party more than £1,000,000 in cash and services.[61] Fox finished in sixth place with 47,634 votes (1.9%) in the mayoral election. He lost his £10,000 election deposit.[62][63]

Legal issues

Defamation lawsuit

In October 2020, Fox announced he would boycott the supermarket Sainsbury's because they "support racial segregation and discrimination", making reference to the store establishing safe spaces for black employees, while asking others to do the same. Sainsbury's later clarified that the safe spaces were online support groups established in response to Black Lives Matter and were promoted as part of support for Black History Month.[64] Feeling he was "falsely smeared as a racist", Fox replied to a number of tweets reacting to that announcement by calling their authors paedophiles. Two of those people, RuPaul's Drag Race UK contestant Crystal and Simon Blake, deputy chair of the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, both gay men, later announced they would sue Fox for defamation. Fox deleted the tweets and explained in further tweets that he wanted to teach people a lesson in calling people something which they are not.[65]

In April 2021, Crystal and Blake lodged a claim for defamation in the High Court and were joined in the legal action by actress Nicola Thorp, whom Fox also called a paedophile.[66] In response, Fox filed a countersuit over the accusations of racism.[67] In December 2021, judge Barbara Fontaine urged the protagonists to reach a compromise; Fox's lawyers had estimated his legal costs would be between £360,000 and £500,000 for a full trial.[68]

In April 2022, Fox requested a jury trial and said that "a judge could show involuntary bias", the first such request since the Defamation Act 2013 and it was refused.[69] Court documents revealed that this request cost Fox legal fees of more than £116,000.[70][71] Later that month the High Court ruled that Fox must pay more than £36,000 in legal fees to Crystal, Blake and Thorp.[72]

The trial progressed at the High Court to decisions on preliminary issues such as the "natural and ordinary" meanings of the tweets, which included that they were a factual claim that "Ms Thorp was a paedophile". Fox took this decision to the Court of Appeal, who ruled in August 2023 that they were "satisfied that the ordinary reasonable reader of that tweet would not have taken the word [paedophile] literally", but dismissed Fox's other challenges.[73]

2023 arrest

On 4 October 2023, multiple news sources reported that Fox had been arrested by police on suspicion of conspiring to commit criminal damage to Ulez cameras and encouraging or assisting offences to be committed. The previous day in an interview on Rumble he declared support for a Ulez vigilante group, saying: "I encourage them to tear down every single camera there is and I will be joining them ... I am pretty close with several and I will be out there with my angle grinder."[74][75]

Personal life

Fox met actress Billie Piper while they were performing together in the play Treats in 2006.[8] They started dating soon after,[8] and were married on 31 December 2007.[76][77] They had two sons together,[78][79] before divorcing in May 2016.[80][81]

In an October 2012 Independent interview, Fox described himself as a "vaguely lapsed Christian" who occasionally prays and thinks "the world is a better place for people who believe in God" despite not having "squared that circle" himself.[82]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role(s) Ref(s)
2001 The Hole Geoff Bingham [83][84]
2001 Gosford Park Lord Rupert Standish [85]
2002 Deathwatch Captain Bramwell Jennings [83]
2003 Al sur de Granada Ralph Partridge [83]
2005 The Last Drop SS Major Kessler [83]
2007 Becoming Jane Mr. Wisley [83]
2007 Elizabeth: The Golden Age Sir Christopher Hatton [83]
2011 W.E. Bertie [83]
2019 The Professor and the Madman Philip Lyttelton Gell [86]
2022 My Son Hunter Hunter Biden [29]

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Ultimate Force Cpl. Mick Sharp "Something to Do with Justice"
"Natural Selection"
2003 Foyle's War Simon Walker Episode: "War Games"
2004 Island at War Airman Bernhardt Tellemann
2004 AD/BC: A Rock Opera Townsfolk
2005 Colditz[87] Capt. Tom Willis
2005 Jericho Peter Bridgewater Episode: "The Killing of Johnny Swan"
2005 Egypt
Leonard "The Search for Tutankhamun"
"The Curse of Tutankhamun"
2005 Whatever Love Means[3][15] Charles, Prince of Wales
2006–2015 Lewis[14][88][89] D.S. James Hathaway
2006 Agatha Christie's Marple: The Sittaford Mystery James Pearson
2007 A Room with a View Cecil Vyse
2008 Wired Philip Manningham
2011 Fast Freddie, The Widow and Me Jonathan Donald
2015 Bear Grylls: Mission Survive Himself, contestant
2017 The Frankenstein Chronicles (series 2) Frederick Dipple
2017 Frankie Drake Mysteries Greg Mills "The Pilot" (S1:E8)
2019 Victoria Lord Palmerston
2020 White Lines David

Some information in this table was obtained from Laurence Fox: Filmography, Internet Movie Database (IMDb), retrieved 16 March 2008.

Theatre

Year Title Role Venue
19–28 October 2000 Kit's Play[90] by Howard Brenton The DG/Earl of Northumberland Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, London, England
[While at RADA] The Wild Duck (1884) by Henrik Ibsen Gregers Werle
[While at RADA] Titus Andronicus (1584 – early 1590s) by William Shakespeare Marcus Andronicus
[While at RADA] Ulysses based on the James Joyce novel first published in its entirety in 1922 Stephen Daedalus
[While at RADA] The Wild Goose Chase (1652) by John Fletcher Belleur
[While at RADA] The Provoked Wife (17th century) by John Vanbrugh Constant
8–17 February 2001 Hobson's Choice[91] (first performed 1916) by Harold Brighouse Fred Beanstock Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, London, England
2002 Mrs Warren's Profession (1893)[16] by George Bernard Shaw Frank Gardner Strand Theatre, London, England
2005 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (first performed 1629–1633)[17] by John Ford Soranzo Southwark Playhouse, London, England; and United Kingdom tour
2006–2007 Treats (1975)[18] by Christopher Hampton Patrick Garrick Theatre, Richmond Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Southwark Playhouse, London, England
2012 Our Boys (1993)[18] by Jonathan Guy Lewis Joe Duchess Theatre, London, England
2013–2014 Strangers on a Train[21] Guy Haines Gielgud Theatre, London, England
2016 The Patriotic Traitor Charles de Gaulle Park Theatre, London, England

Some information in this table was obtained from the following websites: Laurence Fox, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, archived from the original on 3 February 2008, retrieved 18 March 2008; Laurence Fox: Other works, Internet Movie Database (IMDb), retrieved 16 March 2008.

Discography

Albums
Singles/EPs[92]

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