Ian McShane has recently joined the Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films blockbuster franchise Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the fearsome pirate Blackbeard, starring opposite Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Penelope Cruz. The film is scheduled to open May 20, 2011 and is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha). This summer, Ian McShane starred in the television event of the year as Waleran Bigod in The Pillars of the Earth, based on Ken Follet’s best selling novel.
Earlier this year, McShane starred in the motion picture 44 Inch Chest. It was a drama created by the same team as Sexy Beast and co-starred Ray Winstone, who executive produced along with McShane. In early 2009, he voiced the role of Mr. Bobinksy in Laika Entertainment's first animated feature, Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, directed by Henry Selick.
In the past several years, Ian's unique voice could be heard in two Dreamworks releases, first as Captain Hook in Shrek The Third as well as the voice of the villainous snow leopard Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda. In 2007 McShane was in Hot Rod, a comedy directed by Saturday Night Live's Akiva Schaffer, he played the macho, athletic step-father to accident-prone daredevil Andy Sandberg. He also voiced the role of Ragnar Sturlusson in The Golden Compass, alongside Nicole Kidman and was directed by Chris Weitz. In 2006 McShane was seen in Woody Allen's film, Scoop, alongside Scarlett Johanssen and Hugh Jackman, that same year he starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in the Warner Brothers true-life drama We Are Marshall directed by McG.
Ian McShane earned the coveted Golden Globe Award, "Best Actor in a Television Drama", for his versatile performance as Al Swearengen on HBO's hit series Deadwood. His charismatic and alluring performance also led him to a 2005 Emmy and SAG nomination for Lead Actor, as well as being voted by People Magazine in 2005, "TV's Sexiest Villain." Following a wave of critical acclaim for the first season of Deadwood, which also included receiving the Television Critics Association's annual award for "Individual Achievement in Drama," McShane was named as one of GQ's "Men of the Year." They described the character of Swearengen as "infectious" and "darkly irresistible." The New York Times dubbed him as "One of the Most Interesting Villains on Television," and Rolling Stone Magazine bestowed the title of "Hot Barkeep" and described the character as "played to perfection."
Having starred in over thirty films including the indie film Nine Lives, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, it was his film debut in 1962's The Wild and the Willing that lead to other leading roles in The Battle of Britain, The Last of Sheila, Villain (co-starring Richard Burton), Exposed, and Agent Cody Banks. In the critically acclaimed indie Sexy Beast, McShane gave another riveting performance by transforming himself into the dark, sinister and very handsome character Teddy Bass, prompting one London writer to declare McShane, "the king of cool."
McShane has enjoyed a long and creatively diverse career in both British and American television, including a role in David Wolper's seminal 1970's mini-series Roots, as well as BBC and BBC America's Trust, playing the eccentric megalomaniacal head of the firm, Alan Cooper-Fozzard. Starring turns in Whose Life Is It Anyway? for Granada TV, the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights for the BBC, Harold Pinter's Emmy-Award-Winning The Caretaker, and NBC’s drama, KINGS, are among his other television highlights. McShane has also stepped into roles as well known figures, taking on parts as Judas in NBC's Jesus of Nazareth directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Prince Rainer in the network's The Grace Kelly Story and the title role in Masterpiece Theatre's Disraeli. Additional mini-series credits include Charlie the Kid, A.D., The Great Escape II, Marco Polo, Evergreen and War and Remembrance.
In the late 80's the actor formed McShane Productions, which produced the much-adored Lovejoy for the BBC and A&E. Lovejoy gave McShane a vehicle to star in as well as produce and direct. He followed his lovable rogue character Lovejoy by producing and starring in the darker and more serious lead role in Madson and the comedy drama Soul Survivors for BBC. Lovejoy is currently enjoying a revival with audiences worldwide.
In 2000 McShane returned to the West End in London to make his musical debut starring in Cameron Mackintosh's successful musical The Witches of Eastwick as Darryl Van Horne. His varied stage career has included roles as Hal in the original cast of Loot, the title role of The Admirable Crichton at the Chichester Festival, Tom in The Glass Menagerie, and Charlie in The Big Knife. He co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in Promise, which successfully played London and debuted on Broadway. In Los Angeles he starred in three productions at The Matrix Theatre, including the world premiere of Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond and two others for which he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award, Inadmissible Evidence and Betrayal. In 2008 McShane returned to Broadway to star in a revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, it was the 40th Anniversary of the play and of McShane’s Broadway debut.
Born in Blackburn, England, Ian is the son of professional soccer player Harry McShane, who played for Manchester United, and Irene McShane. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Ian and his wife Gwen Humble reside in Venice Beach, California.