Denis Lawson

Denis Stamper Lawson[1] (born 27 September 1947) is a Scottish actor and director. He is known for his roles as John Jarndyce in the BBC's adaptation of Bleak House, as Gordon Urquhart in the film Local Hero, as DI Steve McAndrew in BBC One's New Tricks, and as Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy. He is an uncle of actor Ewan McGregor.

Denis Lawson
Denis Lawson at the 2006 Crieff Highland Games
Denis Stamper Lawson[1]

(1947-09-27) 27 September 1947
Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland
Years active1969–present
Sheila Gish
(m. 2004; died 2005)

Karen Prentice
(m. 2017)
RelativesEwan McGregor (nephew)

Early life

Lawson was born in Crieff, Perthshire, the son of Phyllis Neno (née Stamper), a merchant, and Laurence Lawson, a watchmaker.[1] Lawson was educated at Crieff Primary School (then called Crieff Public School). After the Control examination (Scottish equivalent of the 11-plus examination), he went on to Morrison's Academy before attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, having first unsuccessfully auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He then sold carpets and did amateur theatre work for a year in Dundee before auditioning again at RADA in London and successfully at RSAMD in Glasgow.[2]


Lawson began his acting career with a small role in a 1969 stage production of The Metamorphosis in London's West End. and has since starred in television dramas such as The Merchant of Venice (1973) opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock, Rock Follies (1976) and Dead Head (1986).

Lawson played X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in all three films of the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2001, he reprised the role, in voiceover form, for the Nintendo GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

He has appeared often on the West End stage, notably in the musical Mr. Cinders at the Fortune Theatre from 1983–84.[3]

In 1999, Lawson directed a production of Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against the Eunuchs which was first staged at the Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End starring his nephew Ewan McGregor in the lead role of Malcolm Scrawdyke.

He appeared on an episode of Loose Ends hosted by Ned Sherrin on BBC Radio 4 on 10 December 2005.

In 2005, he played the leading role of John Jarndyce in the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, receiving an Emmy nomination. Two years later he played Peter Syme in the BBC One drama serial Jekyll, a modern version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.[4] Lawson also appeared as Captain "Dreadnought" Foster in ITV's dramatisations of C.S. Forester's Hornblower. He appeared in Robin Hood in which he played the Sheriff of Winchester.

He also appeared in the West End playing the character of Georges in the revival of the musical hit La Cage Aux Folles. No stranger to musical theatre, Lawson previously starred in the London revival of Pal Joey.

He starred as the lead in Above Their Station, a sitcom for the BBC written by Rhys Thomas about Community Support Officers; it was made as a pilot but never commissioned, being shown only as a one-off special.[5] Lawson appeared alongside actress Helena Bonham Carter in the BBC Four movie based on the life of Enid Blyton, playing Kenneth Darrell Waters, a London surgeon who becomes Blyton's second husband. In July 2009 Lawson appeared as Alexander Fleming in a BBC Four drama called Breaking the Mould: The Story of Penicillin alongside Dominic West. Lawson played the part of Alice's grandfather in ITV1's supernatural crime thriller Marchlands which was shown in February 2011.

Lawson appeared at the Royal Court Theatre once more in The Acid Test by Anya Reiss in 2011.[6]

Lawson replaced James Bolam in the BBC One series New Tricks in its ninth series in 2012.[7]

Lawson has said he was asked to reprise his role as Wedge Antilles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but reportedly turned down the role because he believed it would have "bored" him.[8] However, Lawson later said he actually declined to appear in The Force Awakens due to a scheduling conflict, and would have appeared in the film had he been available.[9] Lawson will return the role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.[10]

Personal life

In 1979, Lawson fathered a child, Jamie Lawson,[11] with actress Diane Fletcher, with whom he had a seven-year relationship after meeting in a stage production of Twelfth Night.

He met his wife, actress Sheila Gish, on the set of the 1985 film That Uncertain Feeling. They lived together for nearly 20 years before marrying in March 2004 in Antigua; she died of cancer a year later (9 March 2005). He married Karen Prentice in Italy in the summer of 2017.[12]



2019Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerWedge Antilles
2013The MachineThomson
2013The Wee ManWillie
2012BrokenMr Buckley
2011Perfect SenseRestaurant Owner
2006DollsMonsieur NicholasShort film
2001LeonardLeonardShort film
1996Cervellini fritti impanati
1988The ZipEricShort film
1984The ChainKeith
1983Local HeroGordon Urquhart
1983Return of the JediWedge Antilles
1983Bitter CherryShort film
1980The Empire Strikes BackWedge Antilles
1977ProvidenceDave Woodford
1977Star WarsWedge Antilles


2018Death in ParadisePhilip Marston1 episode: Series 7, Episode 1
2017VictoriaDuke of Atholl1 episode: Series 2, Episode 7 "The King Over the Water"
2016In Plain Sight Episode 2
2014Inside No. 9Gerald1 episode: Series 1, Episode 2 "A Quiet Night In"
2012–2015New TricksDI Steve McAndrew
2011Candy CabsKenny Ho
2011MarchlandsRobert Bowen
2011HustleBenny1 episode: Series 7, Episode 4
2010Just WilliamHeadmaster
2010Above Their StationChief Constable Keith Boone
2009Mister ElevenLen
2009No Holds BardMiekel
2009EnidKenneth Darrell Waters
2009Breaking the Mould – The Story of PenicillinAlexander Fleming
2009Criminal JusticeDCI Bill Faber
2009Law and Order:UKPhilip Woodleigh1 episode: "Sacrifice"
2008The PassionAnnasEpisode 1–3
2008Mumbai CallingPhillip Glass
2007Robin HoodHarold of Winchester1 episode: "For England!"
2007JekyllPeter Syme
2007MarpleLeo Argyle1 episode: "Ordeal By Innocence"
2006Dalziel and PascoeJohn Barron2 episodes: "The Cave Woman", Parts 1 and 2
2006The Thieving HeadmistressFather Plunkett
2006Feel the ForceGordon Campbell
2005Bleak HouseJohn Jarndyce
2005Sensitive SkinAl Jackson
2003Lucky JimJulius Gore-Urquat
2003A World in ArmsNarrator
2003The RideTommy
2002–2004, 2019Holby CityTom Campbell-GoreRegular character
2001The Fabulous Bagel BoysDI Morris RoseTV film
2000Other People's ChildrenTomSeries 1, Episodes 2 and 3
1999Bob MartinGreg
1998The Round TowerArthur Brett
1998The AmbassadorJohn Stone
1998HornblowerCaptain 'Dreadnought' Foster1 episode: "The Examination for Lieutenant"
1998Cold FeetAlex Welch1 episode: Series 1, Episode 4
1996A Royal ScandalHenry Brougham
1997Pie in the SkyNick Spencer1 episode: "In the Smoke"
1996Tales from the CryptFrank
1992Natural LiesJames Towne
1992Screen One; Born KickingVictor Grace
1992El C.I.D.1 episode: "My Brother's Keeper"
1990BoonJames Marian1 episode: "Bully Boys"
1989The Justice GameDominic Rossi
1989Screen One; One Way OutBernard
1987Love After LunchMiles
1986Dead HeadEddie Cass
1986Kit CurranKit Curran
1985That Uncertain FeelingJohn Aneurin Lewis
1985Victoria Wood As Seen on TVPhiilip and Singer2 episodes: Series 1, Episode 2 and 5
1984The Kit Curran Radio ShowKit Curran
1983BergeracGiroux1 episode: "Miracle Every Week"
1982Crown CourtJohn Dickens1 episode: "Talking to the Enemy"
1980The Good CompanionsAlbert Tuggridge2 episodes:
 "Stumbling Chronicles"
 "In Which We Meet the Company"
1980If Winter Comes
1980Play for Today: The Flipside of Dominick HideFelix
1979Diary of a NobodyFrank Mutlar
1978Play of the Week: Fearless FrankErnest Dowson/Prof Byron Smith
1978Armchair Thriller: The Girl Who Walked QuicklyDavid Cooper
1977The Man in the Iron MaskClaude
1977Rock Follies of '77Ken Church
1977Seven Faces of WomanJerome1 episode: "She: Anxious Anne"
1977ProvidenceDave Woodford
1976Play for Today; The Jumping Bean BagSnare
1975Rock FolliesKen Church
1975SurvivorsNorman1 episode: "The Future Hour"
1974Ms or Jill and JackJerry
1973Beryl's LotPeter Jaret1 episode: "Getting Up"
1973The Merchant of VeniceLauncelot Gobbo
1969Dr. Finlay's CasebookAndy Donald1 episode: "Action, Dr. Cameron"


Year Title Character Production Notes
2018 Art Marc UK and Ireland tour
2011The Acid TestJimRoyal Court Theatre
2008La Cage Aux FollesGeorgePlayhouse Theatrenominated for the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical
1995LustHornerHaymarket Theatre
1993OleannaJohnDuke of York's Theatre
1990VolponeMoscaAlmeida Theatre
1988The Film SocietyJonathon BaltonHampstead Theatre
1987The Importance of Being EarnestAlgernon MoncrieffRoyalty Theatre
1986–87AshesColinBush Theatre
1986Lend Me a TenorMaxGlobe Theatre
1984The Lucky ChanceBellmourRoyal Court Theatre
1983–84Mr CindersJim LancastarKing's Head Theatre then Fortune Theatrewon the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical
1979Fifty Words—Bits of Lenny BruceKing's Head Theatre
1978A Greenish ManPatrickBush Theatre
1978We Can't Pay! We Won't Pay!LuigiHalf Moon Theatre
1977Censored Scenes from King KongStephenOpen Space Theatre
1977The Dog Ran AwayBrother DavidHampstead Theatre
1975Kidnapped at ChristmasWarder MullinsShaw Theatre
1973Sarah B. DivineCochrane Theatre
1973KasparAlmost Free Theatre
1972England's IrelandRound House Theatre
1971Titus AndronicusMartiusRound House Theatre


  1. Pendreigh, Brian (April 1999). Ewan McGregor. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 1-56025-239-1.
  2. "Denis Lawson interview". The Wright Stuff. 25 March 2010 via YouTube.
  3. "Mr. Cinders". Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  4. "An all-star cast to appear in BBC ONE's Jekyll". BBC Press Office. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  5. "Above Their Station". BBC Three.
  6. "Cast update for The Acid Test at Royal Court Theatre".
  7. "Denis Lawson replaces James Bolam on New Tricks". Digital Spy.
  8. McCormick, Rich (12 May 2014). "Wedge Antilles actor rejected 'Star Wars: Episode VII' role because it would 'bore' him". TheVerge. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  9. Johnston, Rich (9 December 2017). "Denis Lawson, Wedge Antilles from Star Wars, Did Not Reject Doing the New Films After All". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  10. Nero, Dom (8 October 2019). "Wedge Antilles's Return in the 'Rise of Skywalker' Confirms a Huge 'Star Wars' Theory". Esquire. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  11. "Jamie Lawson". Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2006.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. Churchill, Carolyn (11 October 2017). "Star Wars actor marries in Italy" (PDF).
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