James Brian Mark Purefoy is the super talented and ultra hunky British actor, and he turns 47 today, Friday, June 3. And “hunky” is not just my opinion: he was voted “Hunk of the Year” by a British television magazine in 1997. Well, as far as I’m concerned, he’s very well-preserved and deserves a “Hunk of the Year” award EVERY year 😀…
He appeared on my radar about three years ago, when he had a small but significant part as the benevolent ruler King Edward, aka Sir Thomas Colville in the delightful dramedy A Knight’s Tale. It’s a movie I originally watched because of Rufus Sewell, who played the underhanded Count Adhemar, but Heath Ledger stars as the wanna-be knight referred to in the title. James started out in theater, however, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. When perusing his IMDb page, you find out he was the king of TV movies and miniseries in his early career, appearing in no fewer than 17 between 1990 and 1997.
I haven’t seen even half of all his work, but two TV movies stand out for me. In The Mayor of Casterbridge (TV 2003), he shines as a convincingly savvy 1800s businessman who helps the mayor’s business thrive. The mayor’s daughter promptly falls in love with him, and he with her, and, of course, myriad complications ensue. It’s one of the best period romance/dramas I’ve ever seen, even if it is a sleeper. He is paired in this film with two of his future co-stars. (Ciarán Hinds and Polly Walker in Rome.) …
In Beau Brummel: This Charming Man (TV 2006), he plays the real-life dandy Beau Brummel, who is credited with inventing the modern men’s suit worn with a tie in the early 1800s. His extremely suave and cocky manner steals the show. Speaking of suits, ahem, James is not shy about showing off his very own “birthday” suit. He tastefully bares it all (twice) in this movie (see below) as he also does unabashedly splendidly in the HBO TV series Rome (2005 and 2007). At 6′ 2″, dark-haired and fit, his “costume” (e.g., lack of one) is certainly eye-catching. He is quick to point out that he was NOT digitally “enhanced” in his bare-all scene in Rome. “Mine’s all mine,” he says.
Speaking of the Emmy Award-winning series Rome, James ascends to glory as Roman general and politician Mark Antony and eventually falls far from it, in the end, along with Cleopatra, to the ambitious and power-hungry Octavian. He’s impressive as a fierce soldier. Take a look at this YouTube video of his penchant for fighting, tough-guy style, but making it sound amusing at the same time. And his tender side: Antony tells Cleopatra that they have no options left against Octavian, and he sheds a single tear:
I am not at all one for violence and blood, but his suicide death scene in Rome has to be one of the best of that kind I ever witnessed. He certainly brought immense dignity and pathos to it, and it’s one you’ll never forget. In 2009, JP starred in the modern-day NBC TV series The Philanthropist. He almost plays himself in this excellent, unfortunately short-lived show (8 episodes), which was shot in many locations all over the world. He also starred as the lead kick-ass fighter of evil in the 2009 film Solomon Kane, and most recently in another historical drama, Ironclad (2011).
Right now I’m looking forward to receiving the DVD of his latest BBC TV miniseries, Injustice (2011, 5 episodes), which will be released in mid June. He currently has a starring theatrical role in Terrance Rattigan’s WWII play Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London. Mmmmm, should I put all those frequent flyer miles to good use just to see him in person?… ever so tempting… maybe!
So James has been sneaking up on me for a while, and his immense talent and attraction was brought to its pinnacle in his character Mark Antony in Rome. And I must give thanks to the generosity of my colleague Scot, who loaned me the exquisitely packaged DVD set of all 22 episodes of both seasons.
James is extremely versatile and is capable of ANY role – good guy, bad guy. Tough, tender. Modern or back in time. Stage, small screen or big screen. Cheers to you, James, for being such an amazingly talented, beguiling and underrated actor (somehow I always like the under-appreciated ones best). If you aren’t familiar with James Purefoy yet, you should be, you won’t be disappointed. …
Happy, happy birthday!
What are your favorite James Purefoy roles, movies or series? Which ones do you look forward to seeing now? Let us know.
19 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Birthday Tribute to James Purefoy!”
What a wonderful tribute, Becky! I learned so much about James and appreciate him even more. He’s so great as Marc Antony, and I wish he had a bigger role in Mansfield Park as well, he’s terribly underused in that film.
As you know, I will have a prominent role for him in my fantasy movie 😀 Thanks for this.
Hi Ruth, this was great fun to put together, and glad I could fill in the FC queen with new facts and figures – it doesn’t happen very often! You know, he was so underused in Mansfield Park I forgot he was even in it!
And very looking forward to his fantasy role in your film ;-D
I must admit to only having seen him recently in HBO’s Rome. But am a huge fan now after seeing “Solomon Kane.” My buddies and I are trying to figure out why he isn’t a much bigger star. I’ve only seen him do period pieces so I may have to look into some of his BBC stuff you have listed. Still looking forward to “Ironclad” though! good stuff !
Hi Markus, yes, Mark Antony in Rome is the part he’s famous for, and for good reason, but I’ve never seen a poor performance from him. When/where did you see Solomon Kane? That film has been on my Netflix Saved list forever, it doesn’t seem to be available there at all. Might have to go to Amazon UK to get it. But an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for SK? Quite impressive. I’ll wait for Ironclad on DVD (to fast-forward through all the fight scenes), just the trailer shook me up ;-D
Hey PrairieGirl, I waited and waited for an American release of Kane, but since it didn’t happen I ordered the region 2 DVD. I’m such a geek I have to be able to play DVDs from all over the world with my region free player!
Hi again Markus, I got tired of waiting for all the great UK shows and movies too. If you’re a geek, I must be a geekess! I’ve had a region free DVD for a while now, and LOVE it! That does it, Solomon Kane will be my next order on Amazon UK. ;-O
Love that guy, he is from that movie with the chipmunks right? No? Oh, uh… uh… Ahum
But yes, Ironclad looks badass so he is cool in my book.
Hi Castor, chipmunks, huh… oh, was that him? (chuckle)
Yes, for sure, badass as all get out in Ironclad. He had quite a few in-your-face scenes in Rome, too. He is very good with a sword ;-D
A kiss first for the Prairie Girl 😉 Haven’t seen you lately.
As you know I do love Purefoy lots and he even won some polls over at HOLLYWOOD SPY, which means he has his devoted fans.
I loved him most in ROME where he had the most amazing chemistry with marvelous Poly Walker. I also loved him in SOLOMON CANE.
Can’t wait to see him in IRONCLAD.
Hey Dezzy, kiss kiss to you too! I’ve been enmeshed in my JP post, writing and making clips to no end. I can’t crank the posts out like a drop of a hat like Flixy can ;-D
JP deserves each and every one of his wins at HS. Oh yes, James and Polly, very nice pair together. SK is high on my list now. Hope you enjoy Ironclad. It opens here at the end of July, how about in your neck of the woods?
it will probably never open in my country 🙂 but there’s the good old Internet 🙂
Did you like Purefoy in CAMELOT. He was great as King Lot, naughty and evil and dashing 🙂
Oh yes, Camelot. JP as naughty, evil and dashing… a triple threat! Haven’t figured out how I can see it yet. I know it was a Starz series just this past April, which I don’t get, and haven’t found it anywhere on DVD either. But I won’t give up, it’s definitely on my radar ;-D
Nice piece. I had heard the name before but have not seen anything that he was in (not that I can recall really).
Hi iluvcinema, glad I introduced you to James. He’s got something for every genre, so take your pick and enjoy!
Very Nice Post there PG, I very much enjoyed the read.
It is the first post I have read for a while now and it was a good one to get me back into the mood for blogging again.
Hi Flixers!!! Missed me? I have missed you all, Back now, LETS BLOG!!!
Hello Custard!! [waving profusely] Hope you enjoy your vacation, buddy!
Yes, we’ve missed you. This is the first post you read for a while? Wow we’re so honored!
I’ve been so busy this weekend w/ the movie pitch for Castor that I haven’t got time to review X-Men, but you’ll see Paula’s review today and mine will be posted later this week.
I’ll be popping over FRC later today as well. Welcome back to the blogosphere my friend! 😀
Hi Custard, welcome back. So glad you liked the JP post, and for ME to be an inspiration for YOU?… thanks, I’m flattered!
James Purefoy is simply one of the finest (and most underrated) thespians in the world.
Hi out there. I have followed the fortunes of James Purefoy over many years. 2 films you may not have seen “Maybe Baby” about a couple trying desperately for a baby and James is “the other man” If I remember correctly and very much a distraction for lady filmgoers. The other is called “Bright Hair” in which he plays a teacher distracted by an attractive pupil. It is a thriller so I leave the rest to your imagination! j4nee