Simon Russell Beale was born in Penang, British Malaya in 1961. After graduating with a first in English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he later studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Russell Beale started his London theatre career at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he performed in such plays as The Man of Mode by George Etherege and Restoration by Edward Bond. In 1990, Russell Beale received commendation at the first Ian Charleson Awards for his performances in The Seagull, Troilus and Cressida and the title role in Edward II, all of which were at the RSC.
Later, Russell Beale performed in Iago in Othello at the National Theatre, Malvolio in Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse and the title role in Uncle Vanya alongside Helen McCrory and Mark Strong. Other National Theatre appearances include Volpone, Jumpers and the lead role in Humble Boy which was written especially for him. He also appeared as Joseph Stalin in Collaborators.
In 2005 Russell Beale appeared as Cassius in Julius Caesar opposite Ralph Fiennes at the Barbican, following which he played King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Palace Theatre. But he's also been in musicals, winning an Oliiver Award for his performance in Candide.
Outside the theatre, Russell Beale has appeared in many television and film roles, namely as the Baker’s Father in Into the Woods. In 2014, Russell Beale was honoured as the Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University.
In 2015, he played Samuel Foote in Mr Foote’s Other Leg at the Hampstead Theatre, later transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. In 2017, he played Prospero in The Tempest. More recently, he's starred in productions at the Bridge Theatre, including Bach & Sons and A Christmas Carol at the Bridge Theatre, as well as winning a Tony for The Lehman Trilogy on Broadway.