Stephen Dillane

Stephen John Dillane (/dɪˈln/;[1] born 27 March 1957)[2] is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Leonard Woolf in the 2002 film The Hours, Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones, and Thomas Jefferson in the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams, a part which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination[3]. An experienced stage actor who has been called an "actor's actor",[4][5] Dillane won a Tony Award for his lead performance in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing (2000) and gave critically acclaimed performances in Angels in America (1993), Hamlet (1994), and a one-man Macbeth (2005). His television work has additionally garnered him BAFTA and International Emmy Awards for best actor.

Stephen Dillane
Dillane at the 2012 Dinard British Film Festival
Stephen John Dillane

(1957-03-27) 27 March 1957
Kensington, London, England
Years active1985–present
Spouse(s)Naomi Wirthner
Children2, including Frank Dillane

Early life

Dillane was born in Kensington, London, to an English mother, Bridget (née Curwen), and an Australian surgeon father, John Dillane.[6][7][8] The eldest of his siblings (his younger brother Richard is also an actor), he grew up in West Wickham, Kent.[9]

At school, Dillane began performing in end-of-term plays and had "a certain facility" for funny accents.[9] He often found himself in women's roles, which he says "wasn’t good for my confused adolescent psyche",[10] but also recalls a part in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as being particularly memorable, noting that shouting "Fire!" as Rosencrantz while pointing at the audience was "a very thrilling thing to be able to do."[11]

He studied history and politics at the University of Exeter, concentrating on the Russian Revolution,[12] and afterward became a journalist for the Croydon Advertiser. Unhappy in his career, he read one day how actor Trevor Eve gave up architecture for acting; this, along with reading Hamlet and Peter Brook's The Empty Space back-to-back, made him "light up inside somewhere"[13] and spurred him to enter the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School at 25.[7][14] During his early acting career, he was known as Stephen Dillon but reverted to his birth name in the 1990s.[13][15]


Dillane is an experienced theatre actor; his notable roles include Archer in The Beaux' Stratagem (Royal National Theatre, 1989), Prior Walter in Angels in America (1993), Hamlet (1994), Clov in Samuel Beckett's Endgame (1996), Uncle Vanya (1998), Henry in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing (for which he won a Tony Award in 2000), The Coast of Utopia (2002), and a one-man version of Macbeth (2005). He has also performed T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets in London and New York City, and was seen in the 2010 Bridge Project's productions of The Tempest and As You Like It.

Dillane also portrayed Horatio in the 1990 film adaptation of Hamlet. He played Michael Henderson in Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), a character based on British journalist Michael Nicholson, and the impatient and easily agitated Harker in Spy Game (2001).

Dillane is also known for his portrayal of Leonard Woolf in The Hours (2002), legendary English professional golfer Harry Vardon in The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) and Glen Foy in the Goal! trilogy. He also starred in John Adams as Thomas Jefferson.

He joined the cast of Game of Thrones in 2011 as Stannis Baratheon, a major contender for the throne of the fictional realm of Westeros.[16] While admitting he had not read the books on which the series is based,[17] he commented that the show's appeal was due to "the storytelling, the extraordinary world that’s created and the way it reflects our actual world – a naked, ruthless pursuit of power in all its forms."[18]

In 2012, he also played Rupert Keel, head of the private security agency Byzantium, in the BBC drama series Hunted.[19] The following year he went on to take the male lead, opposite Clémence Poésy, in the crime drama series The Tunnel, an Anglo-French remake of the Scandinavian The Bridge.[20] Dillane, who had not seen the original series, plays Karl Roebuck, the laid-back, experienced British detective to Poésy's humourless French counterpart.[17] His performance won him an International Emmy Award for Best Actor.[21] In a second series in 2016, titled The Tunnel: Sabotage, he reprised his role alongside Poésy for a new case involving a deadly airliner crash in the English Channel.[22]

Besides television, Dillane also starred in the 2012 British independent film Papadopoulos & Sons as successful entrepreneur Harry Papadopoulos, who rediscovers his life after being forced to start again from nothing in the wake of a banking crisis. His son, Frank Dillane, plays his son in the film.[23] That same year he also had roles in the films Zero Dark Thirty and Twenty8k.

Offscreen, the actor in 2014 collaborated with visual artist Tacita Dean for the Sydney Biennale and Carriageworks in a project called Event for a Stage. The work, performed live and later adapted for radio broadcast[24] and film,[25] explored the process of filmmaking and the "concept of artifice on the stage" through a single actor, Dillane.[26] The performance encompassed readings from texts as well as his personal reflections on acting, theatre, and family.[27] 2015 saw Dillane making other brief returns to stage including a reprise of his reading of Four Quartets in London[28] and a one-off appearance in Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree at the National Theatre.[29]

In 2016, besides appearing in the second series of The Tunnel, Dillane returned to the Donmar Warehouse for a revival of Brian Friel's Faith Healer.[30] His performance as Frank, an itinerant Irish healer, was described as "poetic and powerful."[31] In addition, he appeared as artist Graham Sutherland in The Crown, Netflix's TV series about British monarch Elizabeth II. In 2017, Dillane appeared in two biopics, playing Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax in Joe Wright's Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill,[32] and writer William Godwin, the father of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, in the film Mary Shelley.[33]

Personal life

Dillane has two sons with actress-director Naomi Wirthner: Seamus and actor Frank Dillane, who is best known for playing the young Tom Riddle in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince[6] and Nick Clark on AMC's Fear The Walking Dead.



Year Title Role Notes
1988Business as UsualMr. Dunlop
1996Two If by SeaEvan MarshAlternate title: Stolen Hearts
1997Welcome to SarajevoMichael Henderson(Lead role)
1997FirelightCharles Godwin
1997Déjà VuSean(Lead role)
1998Love and RageDr. Croly
1999The Darkest LightTom(Lead role)
2000Ordinary Decent CriminalNoel Quigley
2001Spy GameCharles Harker
2001The Parole OfficerInspector Burton
2002The Truth About CharlieCharlie
2002The HoursLeonard Woolf
2003The GatheringSimon Kirkman
2004King ArthurMerlin
2004HavenMr. Allen
2005The Greatest Game Ever PlayedHarry Vardon
2005Goal!Glen Foy
2005Nine LivesMartin
2007Goal! 2: Living the Dream...Glen Foy
2007Fugitive PiecesJakob Beer(Lead role)
2007Savage GraceBrooks Baekeland
2008FreakdogDoctor HarrisOriginal title: Red Mist
200944 Inch ChestMal
2009StormKeith Haywood
2011Perfect SenseStephen Montgomery
2012Papadopoulos & SonsHarry Papadopoulos(Lead role)
2012Twenty8kDCI Edward Stone
2012Zero Dark ThirtyNational Security Adviser
2017Darkest HourLord Halifax
2017Mary ShelleyWilliam Godwin
2018Outlaw KingEdward I of England
2019The Professor and the MadmanDr. Richard Brayne


Year Title Role Notes
1985Remington SteeleBradford GaltEpisode: "Steel Searching: Part 1"
1986Coronation StreetMark SiddallEpisode: "#1.2624"
1987The Secret GardenCaptain LennoxTelevision film
1988The One GameNicholas Thorne
1988ChristabelPeter Bielenberg
1988The Face of TrespassGray HarstonTelevision film; alternate title: An Affair in Mind
1989The Yellow WallpaperJohnTelevision film
1991BoonPaul LyleEpisode: "Help Me Make It Through the Night"
1991The Ruth Rendell MysteriesPhilip BlackstockEpisode: "Achilles Heel"
1991Heading HomeLeonard MeophamTelevision film
1992Frankie's HouseAntony StricklandTelevision film
1992HostagesChris PearsonTelevision film
1993Soldier SoldierCaptain Mike DavidsonEpisode: "Hard Knocks"
1994The Rector's WifeJonathan Byrne3 episodes
1995The Widowing of Mrs. HolroydMr. BlackmorePlay for television
1998Kings in Grass CastlesPatsyTelevision film
2000Anna KareninaKarenin
2001The CazaletsEdward Cazalet
2008John AdamsThomas Jefferson6 episodes
2008The Shooting of Thomas HurndallAnthony HurndallTelevision film
2008God on TrialSchmidtTelevision film
2010Agatha Christie's MarpleInspector FinchEpisode: "The Secret of Chimneys"
2012Eternal LawCarl2 episodes
2012HuntedRupert Keel
2012Secret StatePaul J. Clark
2012Murder: Joint EnterpriseArlo RaglinTelevision single drama
2012–15Game of ThronesStannis Baratheon24 episodes
2013A Touch of ClothMacratty2 episodes
2013–17The TunnelKarl Roebuck24 episodes
2016The CrownGraham SutherlandEpisode: "Assassins"

Stage (Select Work)

Title Year Role Venue
1989 The Beaux' Stratagem Archer Royal National Theatre
1990 Long Day's Journey into Night Edmund Tyrone
1993–94 Angels in America Prior Walter
1994–95 Hamlet Prince Hamlet International Tour and Gielgud Theatre
1996 Endgame Clov Donmar Warehouse
1998 Uncle Vanya Vanya Young Vic Theatre
1999–2000 The Real Thing Henry Donmar, West End, Broadway
2002 The Coast of Utopia Alexander Herzen Royal National Theatre
2004–06 Macbeth Various Almeida Theatre, Various
2010 As You Like It Jaques Tour including Old Vic and Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Tempest Prospero
2010–11 The Master Builder Halvard Solness Almeida Theatre
2016 Faith Healer Francis Hardy Donmar Warehouse
2019 When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other Man Royal National Theatre

Awards and nominations

1995 Richard Burton Shakespeare Globe Award HamletWon
1998 AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama Kings in Grass CastlesWon
1999 Evening Standard Award for Best Actor The Real ThingWon
2000Laurence Olivier Award for Best ActorThe Real ThingNominated
2000Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a PlayThe Real ThingWon
2000Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a PlayThe Real ThingNominated
2000Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a PlayThe Real ThingWon
2003Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureThe HoursNominated
2004London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Supporting Actor of the YearThe HoursNominated
2006 Helpmann Awards for Best Actor in a Play[34] MacbethNominated
2008Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieJohn AdamsNominated
2009British Academy Television Award for Best ActorThe Shooting of Thomas HurndallWon
2010San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble44 Inch ChestWon
2014Royal Television Society Programme Award for Best Male ActorThe TunnelNominated
2014International Emmy Award for Best ActorThe TunnelWon
2017 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for Best Actor[35] Faith Healer Won
2019 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for Best Actor[36] How It Is: Part OneNominated


  1. "NLS Other Writings: Say How, D". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. Willis, John, ed. (2003). Theatre World Volume 57: 2000–2001. New York City: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 227. ISBN 9781557835239.
  4. Wolf, Matt (18 January 2000). "Where it's playing". The Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 16 October 2000. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  5. McNulty, Burnadette (26 September 2008). "Stephen Dillane". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  6. "Stephen Dillane Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  7. Matt Wolf (16 April 2000). "Getting Out of the Way of 'The Real Thing'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 August 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  8. "Stephen DILLANE". Bob and Joy Salt Family Tree. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  9. Powell, Lucy (12 June 2010). "Stephen Dillane, actor of rare introspection". The Times. (Subscription required.)
  10. Christiansen, Rupert (4 April 1998). "In retreat from vulgar stardom". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  11. van der Zee, Bibi (12 January 2000). "The unknown heart-throb". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  12. Rorke, Robert (13 April 2008). "'Adams' alter-ego". New York Post. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  13. Wolf, Matt (19 November 1997). "The conscientious objector". The Times.
  14. de Lisle, Tim (16 November 1997). "The unwilling war hero". The Independent. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  15. Wolf, Matt (2003). Sam Mendes at the Donmar: Stepping into Freedom (1st Limelight ed.). New York: Proscenium Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 978-0879109820.
  16. Hibberd, James (19 July 2011). "'Game of Thrones' casts sorceress Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon". Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  17. Smedley, Rob (13 January 2014). "Stephen Dillane on The Tunnel and Game Of Thrones". Den of Geek. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  18. Mackenzie, Steven (23 January 2014). "Stephen Dillane interview: "Game of Thrones reflects the naked, ruthless pursuit of power in our actual world"". The Big Issue. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  19. Ryan, Maureen (18 October 2012). "'Hunted' Review: An Entertaining Thriller For Fans Of 'Alias' And 'X-Files'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. Munn, Patrick (23 January 2013). "Stephen Dillane & Clémence Poésy Cast As Co-Leads in Sky Atlantic/Canal+ Series 'The Tunnel'". TVWise. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  21. "International Emmys: Dillane and Krijgsman pick up top prizes". The Guardian. Associated Press. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
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  23. Farber, Stephen (11 January 2013). "Papadopoulos & Sons: Palm Springs Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
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  29. "An Oak Tree". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  30. (1 December 2015). "Tony Winner Stephen Dillane, Gina McKee, Nick Payne & More Tapped for Donmar Warehouse's 2016 Spring Season". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  31. Shenton, Mark (28 June 2016). "Faith Healer review at the Donmar Warehouse, London – 'stunning'". The Stage.
  32. Lodderhose, Diana (8 November 2016). "Stephen Dillane Joins Working Title's Churchill WWII Epic 'Darkest Hour' As Production Begins In UK". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. Tartaglione, Nancy (2 March 2016). "Tom Sturridge, Maisie Williams & More Join Haifaa Al-Mansour's 'A Storm In The Stars'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  34. "Past nominees and winners | Helpmann Awards". Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  35. "2016 Results | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards". Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  36. "The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards: all this year's nominees". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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