Alex Michael Jennings
10 May 1957
|Known for||The Queen (2006) |
The Crown (2016–2017)
A Very English Scandal (2018)
The Lady in the Van (2015)
|Spouse(s)||Lesley Moors (m. 2012)|
Alex Michael Jennings (born 10 May 1957) is an English actor of the stage and screen, who has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. For his stage work on the London stage, Jennings has received three Olivier Awards, winning for Too Clever by Half (1988), Peer Gynt (1996), and My Fair Lady (2003). He is the only performer to have won Olivier awards in the drama, musical and comedy categories.
He is also known for his film work, in particular for his performance as Prince Charles in Stephen Frears' film The Queen (2006) opposite Helen Mirren. His other film appearances include The Wings of the Dove (1997), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006), Belle (2013), and The Lady in the Van (2015) starring Dame Maggie Smith.
Jennings has won acclaim for his performances in television including for his portraying Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, in the Netflix series The Crown acting opposite Claire Foy. He also starred in the ITV series Victoria (2016–2019) opposite Jenna Coleman, as well as Stephen Frears' A Very English Scandal (2018) alongside Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, and most recently Steve McQueen's Small Axe: Mangrove (2020) starring Letitia Wright.
Jennings was born in Romford, Essex, the son of Peggy Patricia (née Mahoney) and Michael Thomas Jennings. He attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch and then studied English and Theatre studies at the University of Warwick, graduating in 1978. He said he saw his first theatre when he was in high school and went to the Old Vic Theatre, which led him to be inspired to be an actor.
In the early 1980s, Jennings began his career in regional repertory theatre. In 1985, playing a range of roles including Maximilien Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Jennings met director Nicholas Hytner during this production and has worked with him many times since. For his performance as Gloumov in Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic, he won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1988. He was nominated in the same category the following year for portraying Dorante in The Liar. He has performed for the Royal National Theatre in a number of plays, including Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Albert Speer.
Jennings' work in television includes appearances in The State Within, Smiley's People, The Franchise Affair, Inspector Morse, Lewis, Alfonso Bonzo, the title role in Ashenden, Dead Poets Society, Inspector Alleyn, Hard Times, Bad Blood, and Peter Ackroyd's London. His many radio credits include Casino Royale, The Way of the World, Strange Meeting, Vorbis in Small Gods, and The Old Curiosity Shop.
His Royal Shakespeare Company roles include the title role in Peer Gynt (for which he won an Olivier Award 1995-06 for Best Actor), the title role in Richard II (opposite Anton Lesser as Henry Bolingbroke), Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK, American tour and Broadway), Angelo in Measure for Measure, and the title role in Hamlet.
He also appeared in War Requiem, the RSC's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999). Jennings also appeared as Lord Mark in the romantic drama film The Wings of the Dove starring Helena Bonham Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Charlotte Rampling, and Sir Michael Gambon. The film received great acclaim and many awards nominations including four Academy Award nominations and five British Academy Film Award nominations.
In 2002, he appeared in the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn revival of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. He was an Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company. That year he also appeared in The Four Feathers (2002) as Colonel Hamilton alongside Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, and Michael Sheen.
In 2006, Jennings' made his breakthrough film role as Charles, Prince of Wales opposite Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. The film was directed by Stephen Frears, and written by Peter Morgan. The film depicts the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997 and the reaction from the British public and the British royal family. The film was an immense critical and box office success, after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film received six Academy Award nominations including a win for Mirren's performance.
In 2007, he played the role of Garry Essendine in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the NT. Also in 2007, he portrayed the Rev. Hutton in the BBC miniseries Cranford starring Judi Dench. He also played John Le Mesurier in the one-off BBC drama Hancock and Joan. In 2009, he appeared in The Habit of Art as Benjamin Britten.
He has recorded the audio versions of the books: Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer, The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham, The Horse and His Boy, Out of the Silent Planet, and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which was selected in June 2008 as one of the top 40 audiobooks of all time. In 2006, he recorded an abridgement of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. He is also a regular narrator on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. He was also a member of the BBC's Radio Drama Company.
In 2010, he played Captain Shipshape in the CBeebies second series of Grandpa in my Pocket and starred in the film Belle. After that, he played Henry Tizard in Castles in the Sky. In 2011, he played Mikhail Bulgakov in the National Theatre's production of Collaborators. In 2014, he played the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical, which was directed by Sam Mendes and was performed on London's West End theatre district. He took over the role from Douglas Hodge in 2014.
From 2011 to 2014, Jennings played Alan Cowdrey QC in the BBC One legal drama Silk. He has also appeared in the PBS/Masterpiece Theatre television series Inspector Lewis (2012), and Foyle's War (2015).
Jennings portrayed playwright Alan Bennett in the 2015 film The Lady in the Van opposite Academy Award winner Dame Maggie Smith in the title role. The film is directed by Nicolas Hytner, who is a long-time collaborator from the theatre. The film also featured performances from Jim Broadbent, Claire Foy, Frances de la Tour, and James Corden. The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim, specifically for Smith's performance. To promote the film Maggie Smith, and Jennings, appeared on The Graham Norton Show, this is Smith's first chat show appearance in over 40 years.
On television, from 2016 to 2017, he appeared in the Netflix series The Crown alongside Claire Foy and Jared Harris, as Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, uncle to Queen Elizabeth and great-uncle to Prince Charles (whom Jennings played in The Queen). The series has received widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Jennings also portrayed King Leopold I of Belgium in the ITV/PBS series Victoria (2016–2019) alongside Jenna Coleman.
In 2018 he played Liberal MP Peter Bessell in the BBC One series, A Very English Scandal alongside Hugh Grant, and Ben Whishaw, a miniseries about the Jeremy Thorpe affair directed by Stephen Frears. The film received widespread critical acclaim with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with the critics consensus reading, "Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw impress in A Very English Scandal, an equally absorbing and appalling look at British politics and society". The series also received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations including a win for Whishaw for his performance.
In 2020, Jennings appeared in the Small Axe miniseries directed by Steve McQueen, specifically the television movie, Mangrove as Judge Edward Clarke alongside Letitia Wright as physician and British Black Panther Altheia Jones-LeCointe. In Mangrove, the story revolves around the true story based the Mangrove Nine who were British black activists tried for inciting a riot at a protest, in 1970, against the police targeting of the Mangrove restaurant, Notting Hill, in West London. The film received widespread critical acclaim, with the critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reading, "Anchored by strong performances and an even stronger sense of conviction, Mangrove is a powerful indictment of institutional racism."
|1989||War Requiem||Blinded Soldier|
|1996||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Theseus/Oberon|
|1997||The Wings of the Dove||Lord Mark|
|2002||The Four Feathers||Colonel Hamilton|
|2004||Five Children and It||Father|
|2004||Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason||Horatio|
|2006||The Queen||Prince Charles|
|2008||The Disappeared||Adrian Ballan|
|2010||Words of the Blitz||George Orwell|
|2013||Trap for Cinderella||Chance|
|2014||Castles in the Sky||Henry Tizard|
|2015||The Lady in the Van||Alan Bennett|
|2016||Denial||Sir Charles Gray|
|1982||Smiley's People||P.C. Hall||"Episode No. 1.1"|
|1986||Kit Curran||PC Woods||Episode: "A Sick Society"|
|1988||The Franchise Affair||Nevil Bennet||6 episodes|
|1989||The Return of Shelley||Jeremy||Episode: "The Gospel According to Shelley"|
|1990||Inspector Morse||Victor Preece||Episode: "The Sins of the Fathers"|
|1990||Alfonso Bonzo||Alfonso Bonzo||6 episodes|
|1991||Ashenden||John Ashenden||4 episodes|
|1991||Bye Bye Columbus||King Ferdinand||Television movie|
|1992||Screenplay||Byron||Episode: "Dread Poets' Society"|
|1993||Alleyn Mysteries||Sebastian Parish||Episode: "Death at the Bar"|
|1994||Hard Times||Bitzer||Episode: "Episode No. 1.1"|
|1997||Liberty! The American Revolution||King George III||6 episodes|
|1999||The Hunley||Lt. Alexander||Television movie|
|2000||Too Much Sun||Julian Edgbaston-Bowles||6 episodes|
|2001||Bad Blood||Joe Harker||Television movie|
|2002||Great Britons||Churchill||Voice; Episode: "Sir Winston Churchill"|
|2004||London||Stephen Spender||Television movie|
|2005||A Very Social Secretary||Alastair Campbell||Television movie|
|2005||Riot at the Rite||Sergei Diaghilev||Television movie|
|2005||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Dr Roberts||Episode: "Cards on the Table"|
|2006||Spooks||James Allan||Episode: "Episode No. 5.4"|
|2006||The State Within||James Sinclair||6 episodes|
|2007||Waking the Dead||James Andrews||2 episodes|
|2008||10 Days to War||Vincent||Episode: "Failure Is Not an Option"|
|2008||Fairy Tales||Roger Bateman||Episode: "Rapunzel"|
|2008||Hancock & Joan||John Le Mesurier||Television movie|
|2008||The 39 Steps||Captain Kell||Television movie, BBC|
|2009||The Last Days of Lehman Brothers||Timothy Geithner||Television movie|
|2009||Agatha Christie's Marple||Inspector Curry||Episode: "They Do It with Mirrors"|
|2007–09||Cranford||Reverend Hutton||7 episodes|
|2009–10||Whitechapel||Commander Anderson||5 episodes|
|2010||Masterpiece Classic||Captain Kell||Episode: "The 39 Steps"|
|2010||Grandpa in My Pocket||Captain Shipshape||Episode: "Captain Shipshape and a Fish Called Bryan"|
|2010||On Expenses||Andrew Walker||Television movie|
|2012||Being Human||Griffin||Episode: "Eve of the War"|
|2012||Inspector Lewis||Rev Conor Hawes||Episode: "The Soul of Genius"|
|2012||New Tricks||Prof. Blake||Episode: "Body of Evidence"|
|2011–14||Silk||Alan Cowdrey, QC||13 episodes|
|2012||We'll Take Manhattan||John Parsons||Television movie|
|2013||The Lady Vanishes||The Professor||Television movie,|
|2015||Churchill's Secret||Anthony Eden||Television movie, PBS|
|2015||Foyle's War||Clive Ord-Smith||Episode: "Trespass"|
|2016–19||Victoria||King Leopold I||9 episodes|
|2016–17||The Crown||Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor||6 episodes|
|2017||The Halcyon||Lord Hamilton||Episode: #1.1|
|2018||A Very English Scandal||Peter Bessell||3 episodes|
|2018||Unforgotten||Tim Finch||6 episodes|
|2019||Four Weddings and a Funeral||Andrew Aldridge||Miniseries, Hulu|
|2019||Gold Digger||Ted Day||6 episodes|
|2020||Small Axe||Judge Clarke||Episode: "Mangrove"|
|TBA||This Is Going to Hurt||Upcoming series|
Filmed Theatrical Events
- 1999: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Butler
- 2010: National Theatre Live: The Habit of Art as Henry / Benjamin Britten
- 2011: National Theatre Live: Collaborators as Mikhail Bulgakov
- 2013: National Theatre Live: 50 Years on Stage as Henry Higgins
- 2019: National Theatre Live: Hansard as Robin Hesketh
Awards and nominations
|1988||Olivier Award||Best Comedy Performance||Too Clever by Half||Won|||
|1996||Best Actor||Peer Gynt||Won|
|2003||Best Actor in a Musical||My Fair Lady||Won|
|2019||British Academy Television Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Unforgotten||Nominated|
- Costa, Maddy (19 September 2007). "'I wanted to be Fred Astaire'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- "Alex Jennings takes on Willy Wonka role". BBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Shenton, Mark (7 February 2014). "Bold casting choices and versatile actors". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Lawson, Richard. "The Crown Season 2 Review: A Stately Soap Opera We Just Can't Resist".
- Rosenthal, Daniel (2 October 2013). "National Histories: Nancy Carroll and Alex Jennings". Royal National Theatre. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- Evans, Lloyd (21 June 2014). "Alex Jennings interview: the new Willy Wonka on Roald Dahl's 'child killer'". The Spectator. Retrieved 31 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "Who's Who in the Cast: Who's Who – Alex Jennings; A Midsummer Night's Dream – Opening Night: March 31, 1996". Playbill. 31 March 1996. Retrieved 31 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
- Jennings, Alex (22 October 2011). "5 days in the life of ... Alex Jennings". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- "Radio and audio book companies", in Lloyd Trott, ed., Actors and Performers Yearbook 2016, pp. 353–354
- Mitford, Oliver (17 February 2014). "Alex Jennings to take over from Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka". Best of Theatre. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "BBC One – Silk – Alan Cowdrey". BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 7 January 2020.
- Telegraph Film (27 May 2015). "The Lady in the Van: Maggie Smith as you've never seen her". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- "Alex Jennings is Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'". 19 August 2016.
- Mangan, Lucy (20 May 2018). "A Very English Scandal review: funny and confident – like Jeremy Thorpe". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- "A Very English Scandal: Miniseries". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
- "Small Axe: Mangrove". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
- Kanter, Jake (24 June 2021). "'This Is Going To Hurt': Harriet Walter, Alex Jennings Join BBC/AMC Series; First Look At Lead Ben Whishaw". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
- "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Lukowski, Andrzej (4 September 2019). "'Hansard' review". Time Out. London.