Derek Jacobi

Sir Derek Jacobi is a British actor born in October 1938 in Leytonstone, London.  After attending Cambridge, reading History on a scholarship he was invited to be a member of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre at age 22. His talent was recognised by Laurence Olivier who invited him to London to cofound the new National Theatre. It was here where he played Laertes in Hamlet alongside Peter O’Toole in 1963. Jacobi was later cast as Cassio by Olivier in the esteemed production of Othello, which then went on to be filmed for the 1965 film version, which Jacobi resumed the role for. Jacobi spent eight years at the National Theatre before leaving in pursuit of other roles. Following this he joined the Prospect Theatre Company, touring in many classical pieces such as Ivanov, Pericles, Prince and Tyre. Jacobi has worked closely with Sir Ian Mckellen who also admired Jacobi during their time at Cambridge together.

In 1986 Jacobi made his West End debut in Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code, who wrote the play with Jacobi specifically in mind for the starring role of Alan Turing. This play was then taken to Broadway and received great reviews. Jacobi first directed for Keneth Branagh in the Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet. Later Jacobi went on to play in Becket, Macbeth, Kean all on the West End or at the RSC.

On the back of Hamlet’s success he toured the world through Egypt, Greece, Sweden, China, Japan, Australia and England, even being invited to play at the setting of the play at Kronborg Castle, Denmark. He made his Broadway debut in 1980 in The Suicide which was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

Jacobi has won the Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in Cyrano de Bergerac and for the second time in Twelfth Night playing Molvolio at the Wyndham's Theatre. He has also received a Tony Award in 1984 for his performance in Much Ado About Nothing along with two other Best Actor awards for the same role. His award winning doesn’t stop there, he also received the Primetime Emmy Award for The Tenth Man in 1988 as well as the Lifetime Achievement award at the Helen Hayes Awards. More recent notable works are the acclaimed Don Carlos which initially was shown at the Crucible Theatre and then taken to the Gielgud Theatre in 2005. He also starred in King Lear in 2010 as the title role of King Lear and again later in 2010 at the Olivier Theatre.

Outside the theatre Jacobi became well known for his breakthrough role as Emperor Claudius in I, Claudius, BBC series in 1976. Later Jacobi appeared in Richard II, the BBC Televised Shakespeare production, along with Sir John Gielgud and Dame Wendy Hiller. After which taking the leading role in BBC’s Hamlet in 1980. His appearance in Frasier TV series, mocking his thespian background saw him win an Emmy Award in episode “The Show Must Go Off”Jacobi has also appeared in a vast amount of films over the years, namely Award nominated Gladiator (2000), Breaking the Code, playing Alan Turing. More recently he appeared as The King in Cinderella (2015) and Cosmo Gordon Lang in The King’s Speech (2010).

Jacobi returns to the West End in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre. He will play the role of Mercutio alongside Richard Madden and Lily James who are playing Romeo and Juliet. The show is set to run from 12 May 2016 until 13 August 2016.


as King Lear at the Donmar Warehouse in 2010

 


as King Phillip II of Spain in Don Carlos (2005) 


as Prospero in The Tempest at Old Vic

 

Selected London & West End Stage Appearances

Show Role Theatre Year Link
Romeo and Juliet Mercutio Garrick Theatre 2016

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Review

King Lear King Lear Olivier Theatre 2014 Review
King Lear King Lear Donmar Warehouse 2010 Review
Twelfth Night Malvolio Wyndham's Theatre 2009  
Twelfth Night Malvolio Apollo Theatre 2008 Review
Voyage Round My Father   Donmar Warehouse 2006 Review
Don Carlos King Phillip II of Spain Gielgud 2005 Review
Tempest Prospero Old Vic 2003 Review
God Only Knows Humphrey, Biddulph Vaudeville 2001 Review
Uncle Vanya Vanya Albery 1996 Review
Breaking the Code Alan Turing The Theatre Royal 1986  
Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac Barbican 1983  
Much Ado About Nothing Signior Benedick of Padua Royal Shakespeare Company 1982  

 

Shows Featuring Derek Jacobi

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