ALSO: See how Al Swearengen fared in our Badass Bracket!
Despite making his first screen appearance in 1962 at the tender age of 20, it wasn’t until more than 4 decades later when Ian McShane finally entered the general public eye as Al Swearengen on HBO’s “Deadwood.” Now, he’s a Golden Globe winner, a grandfather, and a regular at playing craggy foul-mouthed villains – among other things. Born to a Manchester United footballer in 1942 in England, Ian studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. By the time he was hired for roles on television and movies, he was an accomplished stage performer. While dabbling in as many roles he could get his hands on, he was preparing himself for a lifelong career as an entertainer – one that would finally pay off handsomely in his 60s.
Working on both sides of the Atlantic, Ian was a part of some mammoth TV events of the 1970s. He’s part of “Roots,” is Judas in Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth,” and portrays Christopher Marlowe in “Life of Shakespeare.” In the ensuing decade, Ian made appearances on “Magnum P.I.,” a recurring character in the later years of “Dallas,” and is two different characters on “Miami Vice,” but his real claim to fame was as the title character “Lovejoy,” which ran on U.K. television between 1986 and 1994. Just under 10 years later, creator David Milch offered Ian the role of Al Swearengen, boss of “Deadwood,” which Ian gleefully took. Ian immediately embraced the character, helping the HBO show become a hit, and earning him his first Golden Globe.
With the show now complete, and no sign of a rumored "Deadwood" movie on the horizon, Ian has turned his attention to a variety of other projects including the true-life drama "We Are Marshall" and the comedy "Hot Rod." Additionaly, he has lent his voice to a number of animated films including "Coraline" and "Kung Fu Panda," proving his versatility as well as his love for the craft he pursued so long ago.
Ian on the Web
HBO: Ian McShane Profile
Biography charting Ian’s rise to critical acclaim on “Deadwood.”
Discussion with Ian when he first landed the “Deadwood” gig.
Film Stew Interview
Ian discusses his recent roles, from “Deadwood” to “We Are Marshall.”
Cinema Source Interview
Ian on appearing in “Scoop” and the differences to shooting “Deadwood.”
Cinema Source Interview II
Second Cinema Source interview with Ian on “We Are Marshall.”
Ian on the Screen
It all started with “The Wild and the Willing” in 1962, an apt title for the course of Ian McShane’s career. In the end of the decade he’s part of the sprawling “Battle of Britain,” which included such heavyweights as Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier and Christopher Plummer. He’s Wolfe Lissner in the offbeat 1971 gangster flick “Villain,” opposite Sean Connery in “Ransom," Fouquet in “The Fifth Musketeer,” Prince Rainier of Monaco in the TV movie “Grace Kelly,” and portrays Dick Francis’ character David Cleveland in three made for TV movies in the late 80s. More recently he starred as Teddy Bass in “Sexy Beast,” earned a Golden Globe for his work as the curse-happy Al Swearengen on "Deadwood," and voices Captain Hook in "Shrek the Third" and Mr. Sergei Alexander Bobinsky in Henry Selick's "Coraline."
Ian currently wrapped filming as the fearsome pirate Blackbeard on the fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, "On Stranger Tides," due out next summer, and can currently be seen on the Starz miniseries, "The Pillars of the Earth."
On the Golden Globe awards:
“The shrimp was lousy and the champagne tasted like water.”
On his character Al Swearengen:
“When something like this comes along, you say, 'Oh, yes, thank you very much.”