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Alan Bates

Alan Bates

Alan Bates was one of the first actors to appear with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in their first production, The Mulberry Bush, less than a year after his graduation from RADA. Bates created the role of Cliff in John Osborne's Look Back In Anger, which he also played in New York and Moscow. He starred in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker in both London and New York as well as in the film version. Early in his stage career he received the Clarence Derwent Award for his performance in Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill. He went on to a distinguished career marked by association with the leading British playwrights of the day, and a gift for getting to the heart of the characters he portrays: Bates has never been typecast, and has never been a member of a repertory company. He has always moved from stage to film to television, with major successes in each medium; but the stage is his home.

Harold Pinter's production of Simon Gray's Butley in London and New York earned Bates the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor and his first Tony Award on Broadway; he then starred in Otherwise Engaged, also by Simon Gray, with whom he has worked nine times. His work in the classic roles includes the title roles in Hamlet, Richard III and Anthony and Cleopatra; Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor; Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew; Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing; Solness in Ibsen's The Master Builder; Trigorin in Chekhov's The Sea Gull, Vershinin in The Three Sisters, Gaev in The Cherry Orchard; Kuzovkin in Turgenev's Fortune's Fool.

His film career has been equally distinguished, including The Entertainer, Whistle Down The Wind, Zorba The Greek, Georgy Girl, King of Hearts, and Far From The Madding Crowd. He also starred in The Fixer for which he earned an Academy Award nomination; Ken Russell's acclaimed film of Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence; Joseph Losey's The Go Between (screenplay by Harold Pinter), Peter Nichols' A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg and Chekhov's The Three Sisters, directed by Laurence Olivier. He co-starred with Bette Midler in The Rose; with Julie Andrews in Duet For One; with Bob Hoskins and Mickey Rourke in A Prayer For The Dying; with Mel Gibson and Glenn Close in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet; with Charlotte Rampling in Michael Cacoyannis' definitive film of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard; with Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman in The Sum of All Fears, and with a host of colleagues in Robert Altman's Gosford Park.

Alan Bates' many television appearances include Harold Pinter's The Collection, Look Back In Anger, Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays, Simon Gray's Plaintiffs and Defendants and Two Sundays, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Trespasser, by D.H. Lawrence; John Mortimer's autobiographical A Voyage Round My Father; Terrence Rattigan's Separate Tables, and Alan Bennett's An Englishman Abroad (called by some critics the most perfect hour of television ever produced) and 102 Boulevard Haussmann, an incident in the life of Marcel Proust. Bates also starred in Doctor Fischer of Geneva, by Graham Greene; Unnatural Pursuits by Simon Gray; Dickens' Hard Times and Oliver's Travels for the BBC. He co-starred with Jamie Lee Curtis in the CBS film Nicholas' Gift and did cameos in mini series including Arabian Nights, St. Patrick, In The Beginning and The Salem Witch Trials.

Recently he received a BAFTA nomination for his starring role in Love In A Cold Climate for the BBC; the 2001 Drama Desk Outstanding Actor in a Play Award for the off-Broadway production of Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man; and he earned the 2002 Best Actor Tony and Drama Desk Award for Fortune's Fool on Broadway. He has just finished post-production synching on Hollywood North, a comedy that will release in 2003; it is his 45th film.

Sir Alan was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2003 New Year Honours List, the same year he became a grandfather. He lives in London and Derbyshire.

Thanks to Karen Rappaport. For more information visit The Alan Bates Archive.
Photo by Thomas Monaster, New York Daily News.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Alan Bates Facts

Birth NameAlan Arthur Bates
BirthdayFebruary 17, 1934
BirthplaceAllestree, England, United Kingdom
Date of deathDecember 27, 2003 (age 69)
Height5' 11" (1m80)  How tall is Alan Bates compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Mothman Prophecies
Gosford Park
Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys
Alfred Hitchcock
The Statement
The Rose
The Enemy Below
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