Acclaimed Shakespearean actor Simon Russell Beale talks to Sonia Massai, professor of Shakespeare Studies at King’s, about his career so far, the challenges of playing Shakespeare’s most famous characters, and his love of the text.
Simon Russell Beale is a British actor, author and music historian, and has been described by The Independent as "the greatest stage actor of his generation”. He has appeared in many Shakespeare productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and others including Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, the title role in Richard III, Iago in Othello, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and as a striking Ariel in The Tempest.
For his performance as Hamlet at the National Theatre he won the 2000 Evening Standard Award for Best Actor and the inaugural John & Wendy Trewin Award from the Critics’ Circle for Best Shakespearean Performance.
For Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse, he won the 2002 Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Olivier Awards for Best Actor.
In 2013, he won the British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Falstaff in the BBC's The Hollow Crown series.
Simon is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, an Associate of the National Theatre and Almeida Theatre, and in 2003 was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to the Arts.
He is an Honorary Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis. He holds Honorary Doctorates from Warwick University, City University, London and the Open University, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
In 2014 Simon was appointed the Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University, based at St Catherine's College.