Samuel West (Wikipedia)
Samuel West is an English actor, theatre director and voice actor. He has directed on stage and radio, and worked as an actor across theatre, film, television and radio. He often appears as reciter with orchestras and performed at the Last Night of the Proms in 2002. He has narrated several documentary series, including five for the BBC centred on events related to the Second World War.
West was born in London, the elder son of actors Prunella Scales and Timothy West, and the grandson of the actor Lockwood West. He has one brother. He was educated at Alleyn’s School and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he studied English Literature and was president of the Experimental Theatre Club.
West made his London stage debut in February 1989 at the Orange Tree Theatre, playing Michael in Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles, of which critic John Thaxter wrote: “He invests the role with a warmth and validity that silences sniggers that could so easily greet a lesser performance of this difficult role, and he lets us share the tumbling emotions of a juvenile torn between romantic first love and filial duty.” Since then, West has appeared frequently on stage; he played Valentine in the first ever production of Tom Stoppard‘s Arcadia at the National Theatre in 1993 and later spent two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company playing the title roles in Richard II and Hamlet, both directed by Steven Pimlott.
In 2002, West made his stage directorial debut with The Lady’s Not for Burning at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester. He succeeded Michael Grandage as artistic director of Sheffield Theatres from 2005-2007. During his time as artistic director West revived the controversial The Romans in Britain and also directed As You Like It as part of the RSC’s Complete Works Festival. West left Sheffield when the theatre closed for refurbishment in 2007 and made his West End directorial debut with the first major revival of Dealer’s Choice following its transferral to the Trafalgar Studios. He also continued his acting career: in 2007 he appeared alongside Toby Stephens and Dervla Kirwan in Betrayal at the Donmar Warehouse, in November 2008 he played Harry in the Donmar revival of T. S. Eliot‘s Family Reunion and in 2009 he starred as Jeffrey Skilling in Enron by Lucy Prebble. His 2008 production of Waste at the Almeida Theatrewas chosen by The Times as one of its “Productions of the Decade”. From November 2012 to January 2013 he appeared as Astrov in a production of Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. He played Ivanov and Trigorin in the Chichester Festival Theatre‘s Young Chekhov Season from September 2015, alongside Nina Sosanya, Anna Chancellor, and James McArdle.
In 1991, West played the lower-middle-class clerk Leonard Bast in the Merchant Ivory film adaptation of E. M. Forster‘s novel Howards End (released 1992) opposite Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Anthony Hopkins. For this role, he was nominated for best supporting actor at the 1993 BAFTA Film Awards. Two years later he again appeared with Thompson in the film Carrington. His film career has continued with roles in a number of well known films, such as Franco Zeffirelli‘s Jane Eyre, Notting Hill, Iris and Van Helsing. In 2004, he appeared in the year’s highest rated mini-series on German television, Die Nibelungen, which was released in the United States in 2006 as Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King. In 2012, he played King George VI in Hyde Park on Hudson.
He is a familiar face on television appearing in many long-running series: Midsomer Murders, Waking the Dead and Poirot as well as one-off dramas. He played Anthony Blunt in Cambridge Spies, a BBC production about the four British spies, starring alongside Toby Stephens (Philby), Tom Hollander (Burgess) and Rupert Penry-Jones (Maclean). In 2006, he took the lead role in a BBC production of Random Quest adapted from the short story by John Wyndham and the next year played Edward Heath in Margaret Thatcher – The Long Walk to Finchley, also for the BBC. In 2010 he played Peter Scabius in the televised adaptation of William Boyd‘s novel Any Human Heart, while in 2011 he starred as Zak Gist in the ITV series Eternal Law. In addition, he appeared in the BBC series As Time Goes By episode “We’ll Always Have Paris” (1994) as the character Terry.
West is regularly heard on radio as a reader or reciter and has performed in many radio dramas, including Otherkin by Laura Wade, Present Laughter by Noël Coward, Len Deighton‘s Bomber, Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, Michael Frayn‘s Here and The Homecoming as Lenny to Harold Pinter‘s Max. In 2011, he made his radio directing debut with a production of Money by Edward Bulwer-Lytton on BBC Radio 3.
West has appeared alongside his actor parents on several occasions; with his mother Prunella Scales in Howards End and Stiff Upper Lips, and with his father Timothy West on stage in A Number, Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. In two films (Iris in 2001 and the 1996 television film Over Here), Sam and his father have played the same character at different ages. In Edward the Seventh, he and his brother Joseph played young sons of the title character, who was played by their father. In 2002 all three family members performed in Stravinsky‘s The Soldiers Tale at the St Magnus Festival on Orkney and in 2006 they gave a rehearsed reading of the Harold Pinter play Family Voices as part of the Sheffield Theatres Pinter season.
West became the patron of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus in February 2008, having been the narrator for a concert of theirs in February 2002. He is also a patron of London children’s charity Scene & Heard, Eastside Educational Trust and Mousetrap Theatre projects.
West has written essays on Richard II for the Cambridge University Press series Players of Shakespeare, on Hamlet for Michael Dobson’s CUP study Performing Shakespeare’s Tragedies Today and on Shakespeare and Love and Voice and Radio for BBC Radio 3.
He has also published articles on Harold Pinter, on Caryl Churchill and on the Shipping Forecast. He frequently writes and speaks in public about arts funding. West has collected stamps since childhood and owns more than 200 Two Shilling Blues.
In 2013, he was one of the judges for the Forward Prizes for Poetry. In December 2014, he appeared on two programmes for Christmas University Challenge, as part of a team of alumni from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
West is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts, and was a member of the council of the British Actors’ Union Equity from 1996–2000 and 2008–2014. He is a keen birdwatcher.