Ian McShane

Ian David McShane[1] (born 29 September 1942) is an English actor.[2][3][4] He is known for his television performances, particularly the title role in the BBC series Lovejoy (1986–1994),[5] as Al Swearengen in Deadwood (2004–2006) and its 2019 film continuation, the original series garnering him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama and a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Mr. Wednesday in American Gods (2017–2021).

Ian McShane
McShane in December 2006
Ian David McShane

(1942-09-29) 29 September 1942
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1962–present
  • Suzan Farmer
    (m. 1965; div. 1968)
  • Ruth Post
    (m. 1970; div. 1976)
  • Gwen Humble
    (m. 1980)
  • Harry McShane (father)

His film roles include Harry Brown in The Wild and the Willing (1962), Charlie Cartwright in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), Wolfe Lissner in Villain (1971), Teddy Bass in Sexy Beast (2000), Frank Powell in Hot Rod (2007), Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda (2008), Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), and Winston in the John Wick film series (2014–present).

Early life

McShane was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, the only child of Irene (née Cowley; born 1921) and professional footballer Harry McShane (1920–2012).[6][5][7][8] His father was Scottish, from Holytown, Lanarkshire, and his mother, who was born in England, was of Irish and English descent.[9] McShane grew up in Davyhulme in Lancashire (now part of Greater Manchester), and attended Stretford Grammar School. After being a member of the National Youth Theatre,[10] he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), alongside Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. McShane shared a flat with Hurt, whom he called his "oldest friend in the business",[6] and was still a student at RADA when he appeared (along with Hurt) in his first film The Wild and the Willing (1962).[5]


In the United Kingdom, McShane's best known role is antiques dealer Lovejoy in the eponymous series.[6][5][7] He also enjoyed fame in the United States as British film director Don Lockwood in Dallas. Long before Lovejoy he was a pin-up as a result of appearances in television series, such as Wuthering Heights (1967, as Heathcliff), Jesus of Nazareth (1977, as Judas Iscariot), and Disraeli (1978)—as well as films like Sky West and Crooked (1965) and Battle of Britain (1969).[11][12]

In the United States, he is known for the role of historical figure Al Swearengen in the HBO series Deadwood,[7] for which he won the 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama.[5] He was also nominated at the 2005 Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Among science fiction fans, McShane is known for playing the character Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls.[13] In a 2004 interview with The Independent, McShane stated that he wished that he had turned down the role of Bryson as he had struggled with the technical dialogue and found looking at Martin Sheen, who was wearing an eye in the middle of his forehead, to be the most embarrassing experience that he had ever had while acting.[14]

In 1985, he appeared as an MC on Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm, a concept album which featured his narration interspersed throughout and which sold over a million copies worldwide.[15][16]

His other recent roles include Captain Hook in Shrek the Third, Ragnar Sturlusson in The Golden Compass,[17] Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda[18] (for which he received an Annie Award nomination), and Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline.[19] In live-action, he has performed in Hot Rod,[20] the action/thriller Death Race,[21] and The Seeker.[22] He has appeared in The West Wing as a Russian diplomat.[23] During 2007–08, he starred as Max in the 40th anniversary Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, co-starring Eve Best, Raúl Esparza, and Michael McKean, and directed by Daniel Sullivan, at the Cort Theatre (16 December 2007 – 13 April 2008).[24]

In 2009, he appeared in Kings, which was based on the biblical story of David. His portrayal of King Silas Benjamin, an analogue of King Saul, was highly praised with one critic saying: "Whenever Kings seems to falter, McShane appears to put bite marks all over the scenery."[25]

In 2010, McShane starred in The Pillars of the Earth as Bishop Waleran Bigod.[26] The series was a historical drama set in 12th-century England and adapted from Ken Follett's novel of the same name.[27] That same year, the Walt Disney Company confirmed that McShane would portray Blackbeard in On Stranger Tides.[28]

In 2013, he played King Brahmwell in Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer.[29]

Since 2010, McShane has narrated the opening teases for each round of ESPN's coverage of The Open Championship.[30] In 2012, McShane had a guest role for two episodes as Murder Santa, a sadistic serial killer in the 1960s in the second season of American Horror Story.[31] In 2016, he joined the cast of Game of Thrones in Season 6 as Ray.[32][33]

McShane announced on 20 April 2017 that a script for a two-hour Deadwood movie had been submitted by creator David Milch to HBO and that a film is as close as ever to happening. "[A] two-hour movie script has been delivered to HBO. If they don't deliver [a finished product], blame them," McShane said.[34] The film began production in October 2018.[35] Deadwood: The Movie was released on 31 May 2019, concluding the story of the series.[36]

Personal life

McShane married and divorced Suzan Farmer in the 1960s. In 1977, he began a relationship with Sylvia Kristel after meeting her on the set of The Fifth Musketeer.[37] The relationship between Kristel and McShane was tumultuous and violent.[38][39][40] According to Kristel's autobiography, a fight between the two when she was three months pregnant led to her losing her balance and falling down the stairs, causing her to miscarry and to end their relationship.[41] The affair with Kristel ended his marriage to his second wife, model Ruth Post, with whom he had two children, Kate and Morgan.[5] Through his daughter Kate, McShane has three grandchildren. On 30 August 1980, McShane married Gwen Humble (born 4 December 1953). They live in Venice, California.[5]

He supports Manchester United Football Club.[42][43]



1962 The Wild and the Willing Harry Brown
1965 The Pleasure Girls Keith Dexter
1966 Sky West and Crooked Roibin
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Charlie Cartwright
Battle of Britain Sgt. Pilot Andy
1970 Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You Fred C. Dobbs
Tam-Lin Tom Lynn
1971 Freelance Mitch
Villain Wolfe Lissner
1972 Left Hand of Gemini
Sitting Target Birdy Williams
1973 The Last of Sheila Anthony Wood
1974 Ransom Ray Petrie
1975 Journey into Fear Banat
1979 The Great Riviera Bank Robbery The Brain
The Fifth Musketeer Fouquet
Yesterday's Hero Rod Turner
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her Dr. Alfred Sunshine
1983 Exposed Greg Miller
1985 Ordeal by Innocence Philip Durant
Too Scared to Scream Vincent Hardwick
Torchlight Sidney
2000 Sexy Beast Teddy Bass
2002 Bollywood Queen Frank
2003 Agent Cody Banks Dr. Brinkman
Nemesis Game Jeff Novak
2005 Nine Lives Larry
2006 Scoop Joe Strombel
We Are Marshall Paul Griffen
2007 Shrek the Third Captain Hook Voice
Hot Rod Frank Powell
The Seeker Merriman Lyon
The Golden Compass Ragnar Sturlusson Voice
2008 Kung Fu Panda Tai Lung Voice
Nominated — Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Death Race Coach
2009 Coraline Mr. Bobinsky Voice
Case 39 Detective Mike Barron
44 Inch Chest Meredith Also executive producer
2010 The Sorcerer's Apprentice Narrator Uncredited voice
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Blackbeard Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain
2012 Snow White and the Huntsman Beith
2013 Jack the Giant Slayer King Brahmwell
2014 Cuban Fury Ron Parfitt
Hercules Amphiaraus
John Wick Winston
El Niño El Inglés
2015 Bilal Umayya Voice
2016 Grimsby MI6 Spy Boss Uncredited
The Hollow Point Sheriff Leland Kilbaught
2017 John Wick: Chapter 2 Winston
Jawbone Joe Padgett
Pottersville Bart
2018 Here Comes the Grump[44] The Grump Voice
2019 Hellboy Trevor Bruttenholm
Bolden Judge Leander Perry
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Winston
2022 John Wick: Chapter 4 Winston Filming


1964 Redcap Sapper Russell Episode: "Epitaph for a Sweat"
1964 Spanner in the Grass Works Frank Barnes
1964 The Sullavan Brothers David Hemming 1 episode
1966 You Can't Win Joe Lunn 7 episodes
1967 Wuthering Heights Heathcliff 4 episodes
1972 Whose Life Is It Anyway? Ken Harrison Television play
1975 Space: 1999 Anton Zoref Episode: "Force of Life"
The Lives of Jenny Dolan Saunders Television film
1976 The Fantastic Journey Sir James Camden Episode: "The Fantastic Journey"
1977 Roots Sir Eric Russell Episode: "Part Nine"
Jesus of Nazareth Judas Iscariot 2 episodes
Code Name: Diamond Head Sean Donovan Television film
1978 Will Shakespeare Christopher Marlowe Episode: "Dead Shepherd"
Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli 4 episodes
The Pirate Rashid Television film
1980 Armchair Thriller - High Tide Curtis 4 episodes
1981–1982 Magnum, P.I. David Norman / Edwin Clutterbuck 2 episodes
1982 The Letter Geoff Television film
1982 Marco Polo Ali Ben Yussouf 2 episodes
1983 Bare Essence Niko Theophilus 11 episodes
Grace Kelly Prince Rainier of Monaco Television film
1985 Evergreen Paul Lerner 3 episodes
A.D. Sejanus 5 episodes
Braker Alan Roswell Television film
1986 American Playhouse Willy Wax Episode: "Rocket to the Moon"
Lovejoy Lovejoy 71 episodes
1987 Grand Larceny Flanagan Television film
Miami Vice Esteban Montoya 2 episodes
1988 The Dirty Dozen Lindberger Television film
War and Remembrance Philip Rule 4 episodes
Chain Letter The Messenger of Death Television film
1989 Dallas Don Lockwood 13 episodes
Wonderworks: Young Charlie Chaplin Charles Chaplin Sr. 6 episodes
Minder Jack Last Episode: "The Last Video Show"
Miami Vice Gen. Manuel Borbon Episode: "Freefall"
Dick Francis Mysteries: Blood Sport David Cleveland Television film
Dick Francis Mysteries: In The Frame David Cleveland Television film
Dick Francis Mysteries: Twice Shy David Cleveland Television film
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception Andre Marchand Television film
Columbo Leland St. John Episode: "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
Mistress of Suspense Steven Castle Episode: "Sauce for the Goose"
1994 White Goods Ian Deegan Television film
1995 Soul Survivors Otis Cooke 2 episodes
1996 Madson John Madson 6 episodes
1997 The Naked Truth Leland Banks 2 episodes
1998 Babylon 5: The River of Souls Robert Bryson, PhD Television film
1999 D.R.E.A.M. Team Oliver Maxwell Television film
2001 Thieves Jack Episode: "Jack's Back"
2002 The West Wing Nikolai Ivanovich Episode: "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
In Deep Jamie Lamb 2 episodes
Man and Boy Marty Mann Television film
2003 Trust Alan Cooper-Fozzard 6 episodes
The Twilight Zone Dr. Chandler Episode: "Cold Fusion"
2004–2006 Deadwood Al Swearengen 36 episodes
2008 SpongeBob SquarePants Gordon Voice
Episode: "Dear Vikings"
2009 Kings King Silas Benjamin 12 episodes
2010 The Pillars of the Earth Waleran Bigod 8 episodes
Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special Tai Lung Voice
Television film
2012 American Horror Story: Asylum Leigh Emerson 2 episodes
2015 Ray Donovan Andrew Finney[45] 9 episodes
2016 Doctor Thorne Sir Roger Scatcherd[46] 3 episodes
Game of Thrones Brother Ray Episode: "The Broken Man"
2017–2021 American Gods Mr. Wednesday[47] 24 episodes
2019 Deadwood: The Movie Al Swearengen Television film; also executive producer
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sir Tobias Moore Episode: "I'm Going To Make You a Star"
2021 The Simpsons Artemis[48] Voice
Episode: "The Last Barfighter"

Video games

YearTitleVoice role
2019John Wick HexWinston

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2004 Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Drama Deadwood Won
2005 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Won
2005 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Nine Lives Nominated
2005 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Deadwood Nominated
2005 Satellite Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
2005 Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Drama Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2009 Annie Awards Best Voice Acting in an Animated Featured Production Kung Fu Panda Nominated
2010 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Performance 44 Inch Chest Won
2010 Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film The Pillars of the Earth Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2011 Golden Nymph Awards Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries Nominated
2011 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Villain Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Nominated
2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series American Gods Nominated
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Television Movie (as executive producer) Deadwood: The Movie Nominated


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