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Antony Sher

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Citizenship  British
Spouse  Gregory Doran (m. 2005)
Role  Actor

Name  Antony Sher
Years active  1972–present
Partner  Gregory Doran
Antony Sher Antony Sher webchat as it happened Stage The Guardian

Born  14 June 1949 (age 66) (1949-06-14) Cape Town, South Africa
Alma mater  Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation  Actor, writer and theatre director
Organization  Royal National TheatreRoyal Shakespeare Company
Notable work  I.D. (2003)Primo (2004)
Movies and TV shows  Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown
Parents  Margery Sher, Emmanuel Sher
Books  Year of the king, Year of the Fat Knight: The Falst, Woza Shakespeare!, Beside Myself, Middlepost
Similar People  Gregory Doran, Judi Dench, Alex Hassell, Imelda Staunton, Simon Callow

Meet the actors antony sher henry iv part i royal shakespeare company

Sir Antony Sher, KBE (born 14 June 1949) is an English actor of South African origin, a two-time Laurence Olivier Award winner and four-time nominee. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 and toured in many roles, as well as appearing on film and TV, and working as a writer and theatre director. In 2001, he starred in his cousin Ronald Harwood’s play Mahler's Conversion, and said that the story of a composer sacrificing his faith for his career echoed his own identity struggles. Sher and his partner and collaborator Gregory Doran became one of the first gay couples to enter into a civil partnership in the UK.


Antony Sher Antony Sher on The Tempest Stratford Telegraph

National theatre live travelling light starring antony sher talking heads

Early life

Antony Sher BBC NEWS Entertainment Arts amp Culture Sher39s fears

Sher was born into a Lithuanian-Jewish family in Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Emmanuel and Margery Sher, who worked in business. He grew up in the suburb of Sea Point and is a cousin of playwright Ronald Harwood. Sher, however, has worked mainly in the United Kingdom and is now a British citizen.

Antony Sher Antony Sher Ibsen Hated him Telegraph

In 1968, after completing his compulsory military service, he left for London to audition at the Central School of Speech and Drama and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), but was unsuccessful. He instead studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1969 to 1971. After training, and some early performances with the theatre group Gay Sweatshop, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982.


Antony Sher Hysteria

In the 1970s, Sher was part of a group of young actors and writers working at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Comprising figures such as writers Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell and fellow actors Trevor Eve, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Pryce and Julie Walters, Sher has summed up the work of the company with the phrase "anarchy ruled".

Antony Sher Hysteria

With the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sher took the title role in Tartuffe and played the Fool in King Lear. His big break arrived in 1984, when he performed the title role in Richard III and won the Laurence Olivier Award. Since then he has played the lead in such productions as Tamburlaine, Cyrano de Bergerac, Stanley and Macbeth, and most recently played Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV Part 2 in Stratford-upon-Avon and on national tour. He has also played Johnnie in Athol Fugard's Hello and Goodbye, Iago in Othello, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Sher received his second Laurence Olivier Award in 1997 for his performance as the eponymous Stanley Spencer in Stanley.

In 2001, Sher played the role of the composer Gustav Mahler in Ronald Harwood’s play Mahler's Conversion, about Mahler’s decision to renounce his Jewish faith prior to his appointment as conductor and artistic director of the Vienna State Opera House in 1897. Speaking about the role to The Guardian's Rupert Smith, Sher revealed:

"When I came to England in 1968, at 19, I looked around me and I didn't see any Jewish leading men in the classical theatre, so I thought it best to conceal my Jewishness. Also, I quickly became conscious of apartheid when I arrived here, and I didn't want to be known as a white South African. I was brought up in a very apolitical family. We were happy to enjoy the benefits of apartheid without questioning the system behind it. Reading about apartheid when I came to England was a terrible shock. So I lost the accent almost immediately, and if anyone asked me where I was from I would lie. If they asked where I went to school, I.D.say Hampstead, which got me into all sorts of trouble because of course everyone else went to school in Hampstead and they wanted to know which one. Then there was my sexuality. The theatre was full of gay people, but none of them were out, and there was that ugly story about Gielgud being arrested for cottaging, so I thought I.D.better hide that as well. Each of these things went into the closet until my entire identity was in the closet. That's why this play appealed to me so much: it's about an artist changing his identity in order to get what he wants."

In 2015 he played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

He also has several film credits to his name, including Yanks (1979), Superman II (1980), Shadey (1985) and Erik the Viking (1989). Sher starred as the Chief Weasel in the 1996 film adaptation of The Wind in the Willows and as Benjamin Disraeli in the 1997 film Mrs. Brown.

Sher's television appearances include the mini-series The History Man (1981) and The Jury (2002). In 2003, he played the central character in an adaptation of the J. G. Ballard short story, "The Enormous Space", filmed as Home and broadcast on BBC Four. In Hornblower (1999), he played the role of French royalist Colonel de Moncoutant, Marquis de Muzillac, in the episode "The Frogs and the Lobsters". More recent credits include a cameo in the British comedy film Three and Out (2008) and the role of Akiba in the television play God on Trial (2008).

Sher was cast in the role of Thrain, father of Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but appears only in the Extended Edition of the film.

He is currently playing the title role in King Lear and is the only person to play both the Fool and King Lear at the RSC.

Other work

Sher's books include the memoirs Year of the King (1985), Woza Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus in South Africa (with Gregory Doran, 1997), Beside Myself (an autobiography, 2002), Primo Time (2005), and Year of the Fat Knight (2015), a book of paintings and drawings, Characters (1990), and the novels Middlepost (1989), Cheap Lives (1995), The Indoor Boy (1996) and The Feast (1999).

Sher has also written several plays, including I.D. (2003) and Primo (2004). The latter was adapted as a film in 2005. In 2008, The Giant, the first of his plays in which Sher did not feature, was performed at the Hampstead Theatre. The main characters are Michelangelo (at the time of his creation of David), Leonardo da Vinci and Vito, their mutual apprentice.

In 2005, Sher directed Breakfast With Mugabe at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. The production moved to the Soho Theatre in April 2006 and the Duchess Theatre one month later. In 2007, he made a crime documentary for Channel 4, titled Murder Most Foul, about his native South Africa. It examines the double murder of actor Brett Goldin and fashion designer Richard Bloom. In 2011, Sher appeared in the BBC TV series The Shadow Line in the role of Glickman.

Personal life

In 2005, Sher and his partner – director Gregory Doran, with whom he frequently collaborates professionally – became one of the first gay couples to enter into a civil partnership in the UK. They married on 21 December 2015, the 10th anniversary of their civil partnership.


  • 1972–74: Various roles at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
  • 1974: Ringo Starr in Willy Russell's John Paul George Ringo and Bert at the Everyman Theatre, where it opened in May 1974. Transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London in August.
  • 1982: Mike Leigh's Goosepimples in the West End
  • 1982: The Fool in King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Transferred to the Barbican Centre in 1983.
  • 1984: Richard III with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Transferred to the Barbican Centre in 1985.
  • 1985: Torch Song Trilogy at the Albery Theatre, London
  • 1987: Shylock in The Merchant of Venice with the RSC
  • 1987: Henry Irving in Happy Birthday, Sir Larry at the Royal National Theatre, London (Laurence Olivier 80th birthday tribute)
  • 1990: Singer with the RSC
  • 1991: The Trial and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the National Theatre
  • 1993: Henry Carr in Travesties at the Barbican Centre with the RSC
  • 1994–95: Titus Andronicus at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Transferred to the National Theatre and for a UK tour.
  • 1997: Stanley at the National Theatre (repeated on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre)
  • 1997: Cyrano de Bergerac at the Lyric Theatre
  • 1998–99: The Winter's Tale at the Barbican Centre with the RSC
  • 1999: Macbeth at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, with the RSC
  • 2000–01: Macbeth and The Winter's Tale with the RSC
  • 2002: RSC's Jacobean season transfers to the West End.
  • 2003: I.D. at the Almeida Theatre, London
  • 2004: Primo at the Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National Theatre, London (repeated on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre, July–August 2005)
  • 2007: Kean in Kean at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. Transferred to the Apollo Theatre, London in May.
  • 2008: Prospero in The Tempest at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town; Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon; and on tour in Richmond, Leeds, Bath, Nottingham and Sheffield
  • 2010: Tomas Stockmann in An Enemy of the People at the Sheffield Crucible
  • 2012: Leading Role in Travelling Light at the Royal National Theatre
  • 2013: Wilhelm Voigt in The Captain of Köpenick at the Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre, London
  • 2014: Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV Part 2 with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 2015: Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • 2016: Currently playing the title role in King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • BAFTA TV Awards

    0 win, 1 nomination

    Laurence Olivier Awards

    2 wins, 4 nominations

    Drama Desk Awards

    1 win and 1 nomination

    Evening Standard Theatre Awards

    1 win and 1 nomination

    Evening Standard British Film Awards

    1 win and 1 nomination

    Screen Actors Guild Awards

    1 win and 1 nomination

    Theatre Awards UK (TMA)

    1 win and 1 nomination

    Tony Awards

    0 win and 1 nomination


  • 1998: Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon. Litt.D.) from the University of Liverpool
  • 2000: Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for services to theatre
  • 2007: Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon. Litt.D.) from the University of Warwick
  • 2010: Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon. Litt.D.) from the University of Cape Town
  • References

    Antony Sher Wikipedia