Facts about Jonathan Pryce
Jonathan Pryce Biography
Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce has made a long career out of playing smooth-talking characters who are complex, nefarious, or just a little nervous.
Jonathan Pryce studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), graduating in 1971. He distinguished himself in live theater over the next decade, starring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and then on Broadway, where he won two Tony Awards: as best featured actor in a play for Comedians (1977) and for best actor in a musical for his role as The Engineer in Miss Saigon (1991).
His first mainstream movie success was as the low-level bureaucrat struggling to survive in Terry Gilliam‘s dystopian film Brazil (1985). He was particularly active on film in the 1990s: as a milquetoast customer in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992); as author Lytton Strachey in the romantic drama Carrington (1995, with Emma Thompson); as dictator Juan Peron in Evita (1996, with Madonna as Eva Peron); as villainous media mogul in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, with Pierce Brosnan); and as sinister Irish gangster Seamus in the espionage action flick Ronin (with Robert De Niro).
Among Pryce’s many other film roles, he had a long run as Governor Weatherby Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and played a deluded Don Quixote in the 2019 drama The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (again directed by Terry Gilliam). Onstage he has played Fagin in Oliver! (1994 revival at the London Palladium), Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (2001 at the Royal National Theater), and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (2015 at Shakespeare’s Globe).
Pryce’s narrow face and overhanging brow have made him a natural for both starring and character roles. The Guardian once described Pryce as “a less precious Anthony Hopkins.” He and Hopkins later starred together in the 2019 drama The Two Popes, with Pryce as Pope Francis I and Hopkins as Benedict XVI. Both men were nominated for Oscars, with the nomination (for best actor) being Pryce’s first in his long career.
His name is often misspelled as “Jonathan Price.” He was born John Price, but adopted the unusual ‘y’ spelling as his stage name to avoid confusion when he joined Equity, the theatrical union… Jonathan Pryce played Martin Luther in the 1983 film Martin Luther, Heretic. Anthony Hopkins did not play Ulrich Zwingli… Jonathan Pryce also played Sherlock Holmes in the 2007 BBC drama Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars.