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David Thewlis ( Wheeler; born 20 March 1963) is an English film, television and stage actor, as well as a writer.

Early life

Thewlis, second of three children, was born in Blackpoolmarker, Lancashiremarker, the son of Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler. Both of his parents worked at his father's shop, which sold toys in the summer and wallpaper and paint in the winter. As a teenager, he played in a rock band called QED, in which he, Cliff Ashcroft and Chris Swift wrote much of their own music and lyrics. QED played at some of the Blackpool Hotels to earn money for equipment and their first recording session at Storm Studios in Blackpool. Later, Thewlis played lead guitar with a punk-rock band called Door 66. As a musician he was "doing nicely, doing good" and did not want to be an actor. He enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London only because his friends did.

Thewlis graduated in 1984. When he went to register with the actors' union, he intended to use Wheeler as his stage name, but a "David Wheeler" already existed. His mother's maiden name was the first that came to mind.


His first acting job was in a play entitled Buddy Holly at the Regal in Greenwichmarker. Thewlis' first major film role was as the rambling street philosopher Johnny in Naked (1993; dir. Mike Leigh), for which he was named best actor by the National Society of Film Critics (United States), the London Film Critics Circle, the Evening Standard, the New York Film Critics' Circle and the Cannes Film Festivalmarker. Despite the dark nature of the film, he has been critically acclaimed for the role and it is seen as one of his best roles. The same year he appeared on television as the sexual predator James Jackson in Prime Suspect 3, opposite Helen Mirren and Ciaran Hinds. Prior to this Thewlis' first television appearance was alongside Ken Jones in Valentine Park.

Through the 1990s, Thewlis appeared in a variety of films, mostly fantasy and period, including Restoration (1995), Black Beauty (1994), Total Eclipse (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Dragonheart (1996), and Seven Years in Tibet (1997), opposite Brad Pitt (because of this film, Thewlis is barred from entering China). He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Divorcing Jack (1998), and played Clov in a (2000) television film of Samuel Beckett's Endgame. Notable appearances also include Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged (1998) and Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1 (2000), opposite Malcolm McDowell.

He auditioned for the role of Professor Quirrell in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but the role was given to Ian Hart. Despite missing out for the first film, in 2004, he was cast as Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Thewlis did not have to audition for the part as he was director Alfonso Cuarón's first choice for the role. He accepted it on advice from Ian Hart, who told him that Lupin was "the best part in the book". He reprised the role in the fifth and sixth films in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and is slated to play the character again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which is to be split into two films. He also appears in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

His acting talent also led him to a part in the Dinotopia movie as the villain, Cyrus Crabb.

Recent credits include Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005) and The Omen (2006)[The Last King of Scottland](2006). As a director, he was nominated for a BAFTA for best short film for Hello, Hello, Hello (1995); he has also written, directed and starred in the feature Cheeky (2003). When researching for his role in Kingdom of Heaven, Thewlis went to the Hospitaller museum near his home, and the first thing he saw was a mannequin wearing the exact same costume that he wore in the film.

Personal life

In 1992, Thewlis married director Sara Sugarman; they divorced in 1993. He then had a relationship with Bill Oddie's daughter Kate Hardie.

In 2001 he began a relationship with actress Anna Friel, whom he met on a flight to Cannesmarker. Friel had, coincidentally, starred in Sara Sugarman's 1999 film Mad Cows. They both starred in the 2003 film Timeline although they shared no scenes together.

Together they have one daughter, Gracie Ellen Mary Friel (born 9 July 2005). Thewlis noted that he was "excited" and "not at all scared" by fatherhood, and that he loves children. If he was not an actor he would be a teacher as he believes "the most beautiful sound is a child laughing". During Friel's pregnancy she gave up smoking, began jogging and eating more healthily and lost weight.

Thewlis owns a converted Victorian ballroom in Clerkenwellmarker, whilst Friel owns a house in Windsormarker, so the couple divide their time in each property. Their house in Windsor is located near the Long Walk and Windsor Castlemarker; Thewlis once recounted that he "can lie in bed and watch the Queen ride by". He also is often mistaken for fellow actor Rhys Ifans: "Twice a week, people come up to me and say, 'You were great in Notting Hill'. The public seem to think we are the same person." Thewlis has also recently published a novel called The Late Hector Kipling (2007).

Awards and nominations

Thewlis has been praised for his performance in Naked, which, despite its dark tone, is considered by critics and fans alike to be his best role to date. He has won the following awards for his work in Naked.

Thewlis has also received the following awards:

Other award nominations include:



Year Film Role Notes
1987 Road Joey
The Short & Curlies Clive Short film
1988 Vroom Ringe
Little Dorrit George Braddle
1989 Resurrected Kevin Deakin
1991 Life Is Sweet Nicola's lover
Afraid of the Dark Locksmith
Tom Miller
1992 Swords at Teatime Michael Short film
Damage Detective
1993 The Trial Franz
Naked Johnny
1994 Black Beauty Jerry Barker
1995 Total Eclipse Paul Verlaine
Restoration John Pearce
Hello, Hello, Hello N/A Short film; directed and wrote
1996 James and the Giant Peach Earthworm Voice
Dragonheart King Einon
The Island of Dr. Moreau Edward Douglas
1997 American Perfekt Santini
Seven Years in Tibet Peter Aufschnaiter
1998 The Big Lebowski Knox Harrington
Divorcing Jack Dan Starkey
Besieged Jason Kinsky
1999 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? Nesbit
2000 The Miracle Maker Judas Iscariot Voice
Gangster No. 1 Freddie Mays
2001 Goodbye Charlie Bright Charlie's dad
2002 D.I.Y. Hard Man
2003 Cheeky Harry Sankey Also wrote and directed
Timeline Robert Doniger
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Remus Lupin
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Hospitaler
All the Invisible Children Jonathan
The New World Edward Wingfield
2006 Basic Instinct 2 Roy Washburn
The Omen Keith Jennings
2007 The Inner Life of Martin Frost Martin Frost
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Remus Lupin
2008 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Father
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Remus Lupin
Veronika Decides to Die Dr. Blake Awaiting release in USA&UK
2010 Mr. Nice Jim McCann Post production
London Boulevard Jordan In production
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I Remus Lupin filming
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II Remus Lupin filming


Year Series Role Notes
1985 Only Fools and Horses Stew Episode 4.4: "It's Only Rock and Roll"
Radio Pictures Jim Grams TV film
1986 The Singing Detective Second Soldier Episode 1.3: "Lovely Days" and 1.6: "Who Done It"
1987-1988 Valentine Park Max Appeared in nine episodes
1989 A Bit of a Do Paul Simcock Appeared in six episodes
Skulduggery Tony TV film
1990 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Doctor TV serial
1991 Journey to Knock Terry TV film
Shrinks Terry Slater Episode 1.5
Screen One Tim Shanks Episode 3.3: "Filipina Dreamgirls"
1992 Black and Blue Crematorium attendant TV film
1993 Frank Stubbs Promotes Mike Bence Episode 1.6: "Striker"
Prime Suspect 3 James Jackson TV film
1994 Dandelion Dead Oswald Martin TV mini-series
1999 Love Story Dealer TV film
2000 Endgame Clov TV film
2001 Hamilton Mattress Hamilton Mattress TV film; voice
2002 Dinotopia Cyrus Crabb TV mini-series
2007 The Street Joe / Harry Jennerson Episode 2.1: "Twins"



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