William Fox (born 19 May 1939), known professionally as James Fox, is an English actor, from a well-known acting family. He appeared in several notable films of the 1960s and early 1970s, including The Servant, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Performance, before quitting the screen for several years to be an evangelical Christian. He has since appeared in a wide range of film and TV productions.
19 May 1939
Mary Elizabeth Piper (m. 1973)
|Children||5, including Laurence Fox, Lydia Fox and Jack Fox|
Fox was born in London, the son of theatrical agent Robin Fox and actress Angela Worthington. He is the brother of actor Edward Fox and the film producer Robert Fox. His maternal grandfather was playwright Frederick Lonsdale. Like several members of the Fox family, he attended Harrow School. After leaving Harrow Fox took a short service commission in the Coldstream Guards.
In 1962, Fox was working in a bank when Tony Richardson offered him a minor role in the film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Fox's father attempted to forbid this, claiming that his son had no talent for acting and that it would disrupt his life for him to give up his job in the bank, nevertheless Fox took the part.
During the 1960s, Fox gained popularity. In 1964, he won a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for his role in The Servant (1963).
On June 16 1965, saw the release of Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. In the British period comedy film, Fox is featured among an international ensemble cast including Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Robert Morley, Terry-Thomas, Red Skelton, Benny Hill, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Gert Fröbe and Alberto Sordi. The film, revolving around the craze of early aviation circa 1910, is about a pompous newspaper magnate (Morley) who is convinced by his daughter (Miles) and fiancee (Fox), a young army officer, and they organize an air race from London to Paris, where he decides to race. A large sum of money is offered to the winner, hence it attracts a variety of characters who participate. The film received positives reviews, described as funny, colourful and clever, and capturing the early enthusiasm for aviation. It was treated as a major production, one of only three full-length 70 mm Todd-AO Fox releases in 1965 with an intermission and musical interlude part of the original screenings. Because of the Todd-AO process, the film was an exclusive roadshow feature initially shown in deluxe Cinerama venues, where customers needed reserved seats purchased ahead of time. The film grossed $ 31,111,111 theatrically and on home video $ 29,950,000. Audience reaction both in first release and even today, is nearly universal in assessing the film as one of the "classic" aviation films.
Spiritual life and break from acting
After finishing work on Performance (1970), Fox suspended his acting career. Released in 1970, the film co-starring James Fox and Mick Jagger was deemed so outrageous that critics at a preview screening walked out, with one film executive's wife reportedly throwing up in the cinema.
In a 2008 interview, he said: "It was just part of my journey...I think my journey was to spend a while away from acting. And I never lost contact with it – watching movies, reading about it ... so I didn't feel I missed it."
He became an evangelical Christian, working with the Navigators and devoting himself to the ministry. During this time, the only film in which Fox appeared was No Longer Alone (1978), the story of Joan Winmill Brown, a suicidal woman who was led to faith in Jesus Christ by Ruth Bell Graham.
Return to acting
After an absence from acting of several years, Fox appeared on TV in the Play for Today "Country" by Trevor Griffiths, a comedy drama set against the 1945 UK parliamentary elections. On film he starred in Stephen Poliakoff's Runners (1983), A Passage to India (1984), and Comrades (1986). He was notable as Anthony Blunt in the acclaimed BBC play by Alan Bennett, A Question of Attribution (1992). He also portrayed the character of Lord Holmes in Patriot Games (1992), as well as Colonel Ferguson in Farewell to the King and the Nazi-sympathising aristocrat Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day (1993).
More recently he has appeared in the 2000 film Sexy Beast, the 2001 adaptation of The Lost World as Prof. Leo Summerlee, Agatha Christie's Poirot – Death on the Nile (2004) as Colonel Race and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) playing Mr. Salt, Veruca Salt's father. He appeared in the Doctor Who audio drama Shada, and in 2007, he guest-starred in the British television crime series Waking the Dead. He also appeared opposite his son Laurence Fox in "Allegory of Love", an episode in the third series of Lewis. He was part of the cast of Sherlock Holmes, as Sir Thomas, leading member of a freemason-like secret society.
He married Mary Elizabeth Piper in September of 1973, with whom he has five children: actors Laurence, Lydia, and sons Jack, Robin and Thomas. Laurence married actress Billie Piper in 2007; they divorced in 2016. Lydia Fox is married to TV personality Richard Ayoade.
|1950||The Miniver Story||Toby Miniver|
|The Magnet||Johnny Brent|
|1962||The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner||Gunthorpe|
|1965||King Rat||Flight Lieutenant Peter Marlowe|
|Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines||Richard Mays|
|1966||The Chase||Jason 'Jake' Rogers|
|1967||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Jimmy Smith|
|1984||Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes||Lord Charles Esker|
|A Passage to India||Richard Fielding|
|1986||Absolute Beginners||Henley of Mayfair, Dressmaker to the Queen|
|The Whistle Blower||Lord|
|Comrades||Governor William Norfolk|
|1989||Farewell to the King||Colonel Ferguson|
|The Mighty Quinn||Thomas Elgin|
|1990||The Russia House||Ned|
|1991||Afraid of the Dark||Frank|
|1992||Patriot Games||Lord William Holmes|
|1993||The Remains of the Day||Lord Darlington|
|1997||Anna Karenina||Aleksei Aleksandrovich Karenin|
|Never Ever||Arthur Trevane|
|1999||Mickey Blue Eyes||Philip Cromwell|
|2000||Up at the Villa||Sir Edgar Swift|
|The Golden Bowl||Colonel Bob Assingham|
|2001||Lover's Prayer||Old Vladimir||Voice|
|2004||The Prince and Me||King Haraald|
|2005||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||Mr. Salt|
|2007||Mister Lonely||The Pope|
|2009||Sherlock Holmes||Sir Thomas Rotheram|
|2010||Wide Blue Yonder||George|
|2011||W.E.||King George V|
|2013||Effie Gray||Sir Charles Eastlake|
|The Double||The Colonel|
|A Long Way From Home||Joseph|
|1983||Anna Pavlova||Victor Dandré|
|1990||Never Come Back||Foster||TV mini-series|
|1992||A Question of Attribution||Sir Anthony Blunt||TV movie|
|1993||Heart of Darkness||Gosse||TV movie|
|1994||The Dwelling Place||Lord Fischel||TV mini-series, 3 episodes|
|1994||Doomsday Gun||Sir James Whittington||TV Movie|
|1995||The Choir||The Dean, Hugh Cavendish||TV mini-series, 5 episodes|
|1996||Gulliver's Travels||Dr. Bates||TV mini-series|
|2001||Armadillo||Sir Simon Sherrifmuir|
|The Lost World||Prof. Leo Summerlee||TV movie|
|2002||The Falklands Play||Lord Carrington KCMG MC PC (Foreign Secretary)|
|2003||Cambridge Spies||Lord Halifax||1 episode|
|2004||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Colonel Race||Death on the Nile|
|2005||Agatha Christie's Marple||Colonel Arthur Bantry||The Body in the Library|
|Colditz||Lt. Colonel Jimmy Fordham||TV mini-series|
|Absolute Power||Gerald Thurnham||Episode: Identity Crisis|
|2006||Suez: A Very British Crisis||Anthony Eden||TV documentary|
|2007||Waking the Dead||Dr Bruno Rivelli||Episode: Mask of Sanity|
|2008||New Tricks||Ian Figgis||Episode: Spare Parts|
|2009||Lewis||Professor Norman Dearing||Episode: Allegory of Love|
|Margaret||Charles Powell||TV movie|
|Red Riding 1980||Charles Powell||TV movie|
|2010||Midsomer Murders||Sir Michael Fielding||Episode: Master Class|
|2011||Law & Order: UK||Dr. Edward Austen||Episode: The Wrong Man|
|2012||Merlin||King Rodor||Episode: Another's Sorrow|
|The Great Train Robbery||Henry Brooke||TV movie|
|Downton Abbey: The London Season||Lord Aysgarth|
|2015||Death in Paradise||Martin Goodman||Episode 4.8|
|London Spy||James||Episode 3|
- James M. Welsh, John C. Tibbetts, The Cinema of Tony Richardson: Essays and Interviews (1999), p. 119
- "W./E. | Cast". We-movie.com. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Crowther, Bosley (17 June 1965). "Movie Review: Those Magnificent Men In their Flying Machines (1965)". The New York Times.
- Staff, Variety; Staff, Variety (1 January 1965). "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines – Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes". Variety. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
- "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines – Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes: TV Guide Review". TV Guide.com. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- "Director's Voice-over Commentary". Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines DVD, 2004.
- Munn (1983), p. 161.
- "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 324.
- Hardwick & Schnepf (1989), p. 58.
- Jeeves (22 November 2010). ""Tweedland" The Gentlemen's club: JAMES FOX". Tweedlandthegentlemansclub.blogspot.com. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "Biography at British Cinema Greats". Retrieved 31 July 2006.
- "The Epitome of a Christian Woman". Christianity Today. 20 June 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- Bean, Rampling Join Terrorist Thriller "Cleanskin" Dark Horizons. 2 March 2010
- Church wedding for Piper and Fox, BBC News, 31 December 2007.
- "Billie Piper and Laurence Fox divorce". ITV News. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- White, Adam (23 June 2017). "The Crystal Maze 2017: everything you need to know about host Richard Ayoade". The Telegraph.
- Catherine Cookson's The Dwelling Place at radiotimes.com