Discover James Norton's best theatre performances, TV roles, and more

Find out more about the award-winning actor in popular shows such as Happy Valley and Grantchester. See James Norton in A Little Life in the West End.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Although A Little Life is yet to open in the West End, it's already a hit play. The winning combination of Hanya Yanagihara’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Ivo van Hove’s visionary direction, and an all-star cast make this the hottest ticket in town.

So much so, before the play started its 12-week run at the Harold Pinter Theatre, the show added an extra five weeks at the Savoy Theatre.

James Norton will lead the cast as Jude, a prestigious lawyer who remains haunted by his past. He returns to the West End for the first time in a decade with A Little Life. Read on to learn about Norton’s impressive and versatile stage and screen career, and see A Little Life in London.

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James Norton Cymbeline - 750 - LT

James Norton on stage

Norton impressed leading West End figures during his university years. As part of Cambridge University's The Marlowe Society centenerary events in 2007, Trevor Nunn directed him as Posthumus in Cymbeline. Norton followed in the footsteps of prestigious British actors: Tom Hiddleston, Ian McKellen, Sam Mendes, and Emma Thompson all joined the Marlowe Society.

Following his theology degree, Norton enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). After two and a half years, he left RADA six months before graduation to play Miles Richards in Laura Wade’s Posh at the Royal Court. While in Posh, Norton worked alongside co-stars Harry Hadden-Paton and Kit Harington. In 2010, he played Henry in That Face at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Journey's End - 750 - LT

The following year, Norton made his West End debut as Captain Stanhope in the World War One play, Journey’s End. He played the role on tour, before a three-month season at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

2011 proved busy for Norton. After working on Journey's End, he played Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter at Theatre Royal Haymarket. Trevor Nunn directed an impressive cast, led by Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley. In a London Theatre review, “The characterisations are polished and Stephen Brimson Lewis's setting is impressively detailed and suitably evocative… this is not so much a history play as a domestic sitcom laced with some historical flavouring.”

In recent years, Norton's led gritty dramas: Tracy Lett's Bug in 2016, and Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse in 2017. For Belleville on London Theatre, “it's an anxious, edgy but perplexing play about characters dancing around the abyss of their lives and failing relationship… it is, however, at least partially redeemed by the quietly stunning performances of James Norton and Imogen Poots… whose naturalistic and complicated unease with each other is palpable.”

James Norton on screen

Norton’s early television career CV lists episode-length appearances in Inspector George Gently, Restless, Blandings, Doctor Who, By Any Means, and Death Comes to Pemberley.

James Norton - Photo by Justine Matthew

2014 saw Norton land two leading television roles. Firstly, he played villain Tommy Lee Royce in the BBC crime drama Happy Valley, picking up a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Later in the year, he found himself on the other side of murder investigations, playing crime-solving vicar Sidney Chambers in Grantchester.

Similar to roles in his stage career, Norton's television characters tend to become involved in confrontational discussions. He's played Sir Clifford Chatterley in a risque television film adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in War and Peace, the son of a Russian mafia boss in McMafia, Stephen Ward in The Trial of Christine Keeler, and a pansexual aristocrat in The Nevers.

His film career is similarly varied. He's notably appeared in Greta Gerwig's 2019 version of Little Women alongside Saoirse Ronan and Meryl Streep, and Rogue Agent opposite Gemma Arterton. He's set to star in a biographical film about Bob Marley — the unnamed film is slated for a 2024 release.

See James Norton in A Little Life

James Norton is one of Britain's finest actors, so now is the ideal time to see him in action. He'll play lawyer Jude St. Francis in Ivo van Hove's groundbreaking adaptation of A Little Life. The play revolves around four college friends who move to New York City after graduation. As their tense friendships reach boiling point, the foursome realise how Jude impacts their lives.

A Little Life - 750 - LT

A Little Life is already set to be one of the most popular shows of the year, so you’ll want to book your tickets now.

A Little Life is at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 25 March to 18 June. A Little Life is then at the Savoy Theatre from 4 July to 5 August.

Photo credit: A Little Life, Cymbeline, Journey's End, James Norton (Photos courtesy of production, the Marlowe Society, by Geraint Lewis, photo by Justine Matthew)

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