Born in Camberwell, London, in 1983, Rafe Spall is an English actor of stage and screen. After Olivier Award-nominated turns in recent years, he originated the role of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird in London to Oliver Award-nominated acclaim.
From an early age, Spall was introduced to the performing arts. Named after his father’s role in a RSC production of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, it was as if theatre was ingrained into his body and mind. As a teenager, he decided to take his acting career seriously, applying for National Youth Theatre productions and drama school, but failed to make it in. Spurred on, Spall continued to audition for stage productions, eventually making his professional debut at 19.
Spall’s early shows include A Prayer for Owen Meany at the National Theatre and Just a Bloke at the Royal Court, both in 2002. Unbelievably, he played his character’s namesake in The Knight of the Burning Pestle in 2005 at the Barbican.
Cast in off-West End productions for a few more years, Spall’s stand-out role came in 2012, playing Roland in Constellations at the Royal Court. After an acclaimed run, Constellations transferred to the Duke of York’s, giving what was an “inspirational” performance and was nominated for his first Olivier Award.
The year after, Spall made his Broadway debut as Jerry in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. He returned to home shores shortly after, earning his second Olivier nomination as Brack in Hedda Gabler at the National. He was back at the National in 2020 in Roy Williams and Clint Dyer’s Death of England, staged just before the first lockdown.
Away from the stage, Spall has had a successful career too, appearing in films including Life of Pi, The BFG and Prometheus.