- "Ian McShane is a consummate actor. He's brilliant and he's done it all. He's won all kinds of accolades for his acting ability, and that makes it so much more fun for a director and for an audience to see people who are the best at their craft."
- ―Jerry Bruckheimer on Ian McShane
Ian David McShane (born September 29, 1942) is an English actor, director, producer and voice artist. He earned the coveted Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama for his versatile performance as Al Swearengen on HBO's hit series Deadwood. His charismatic and alluring performance also led him to a 2005 Emmy and SAG nomination for Lead Actor, as well as being voted by People magazine in 2005 as "TV's Sexiest Villain". Following a wave of critical acclaim for the first season of Deadwood, which also included receiving the Television Critics Association's annual award for Individual Achievement in Drama, McShane was named as one of GQ's "Men of the Year." Ian McShane portrayed Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the Disneyland ride.
Early and Personal lifeEdit
Born in Blackburn, England, Ian McShane was the son of Scottish-born professional football player Harry McShane, who played for Manchester United, and Irene McShane. He grew up in Urmston, Manchester and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
McShane was first married to Suzan Farmer from 1965 to 1968, and then later to Ruth Post, whom he divorced in 1976. The following year, he began a turbulent five-year relationship with Sylvia Kristel after meeting her on the set of The Fifth Musketeer. As of 1980, McShane was married to actress Gwen Humble.
Having starred in more than 30 films, including the independent film Nine Lives, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, it was McShane's film debut in 1962's The Wild and the Willing that lead to other leading roles in Battle of Britain, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, The Last of Sheila, Villain (co-starring Richard Burton), Exposed and Agent Cody Banks. In the critically acclaimed Sexy Beast, McShane gave another riveting performance by transforming himself into the dark, sinister and very handsome character Teddy Bass.
McShane has enjoyed a long and creatively diverse career in both British and American television, including a role in David Wolper's seminal 1970s miniseries Roots, as well as BBC and BBC America's Trust, playing the megalomaniacal head of the firm Alan Cooper-Fozzard. Starring turns in Whose Life Is It Anyway? for Granada TV, the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights for the BBC, Harold Pinter's Emmy Award-winning The Caretaker and the role of King Silas Benjamin in NBC's drama series Kings are among his other television highlights. McShane has also stepped into roles as well-known figures, taking on such parts as Judas in NBC's Jesus of Nazareth, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Prince Rainier in the network's The Grace Kelly Story and the title role in Masterpiece Theatre's Disraeli. Additional miniseries credits include Charlie and the Kid, A.D., The Great Escape II, Marco Polo, Evergreen and War and Remembrance.
In the late 1980s, the actor formed McShane Productions, which produced the much-adored Lovejoy for the BBC and A&E. Lovejoy gave McShane a vehicle to star in as well as produce and direct. He followed his lovable rogue character by producing and starring in the darker and more serious lead role in Madson and the comedy-drama Soul Survivors for BBC. Lovejoy is currently enjoying a revival with audiences worldwide.
In 2000, McShane returned to the West End in London to make his musical debut starring in Cameron Mackintosh's successful musical The Witches of Eastwick as Darryl Van Horne. His varied stage career has included such roles as Hal in the original cast of Loot, the title role of The Admirable Crichton at the Chichester Festival, Tom in The Glass Menagerie, and Charlie in The Big Knife. He co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in Promise, which successfully played London and debuted on Broadway. In Los Angeles, he starred in three productions at the Matrix Theatre, including the world premiere of Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond and two others for which he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award, Inadmissible Evidence and Betrayal. In 2008, McShane starred in a revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, the 40th anniversary of the play and McShane's Broadway debut.
McShane's performance in Deadwood also earned him a string of critical acclaim, including the Television Critics Association's annual award for "Individual Achievement in Drama" and being selected as one of GQ's "Men of the Year." For the same role, he earned a 2005 Emmy nomination as well as 2005 and 2006 SAG nominations for Lead Actor, and was voted "TV's Sexiest Villain." He also earned the coveted Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama for his versatile performance.
After Deadwood, McShane's unique voice could be heard in two DreamWorks releases, first as Captain Hook in Shrek the Third as well as the voice of the villainous snow leopard Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda. In 2007, McShane was in Hot Rod, a comedy directed by Saturday Night Live's Akiva Schaffer, and also voiced the role of Ragnar Sturlusson in The Golden Compass, directed by Chris Weitz. In 2006, McShane was seen in Woody Allen's film Scoop alongside Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackson; that same year, he starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in the Warner Bros. true-life drama We Are Marshall, directed by McG.
McShane starred as Bishop Waleran Bigod in The Pillars of the Earth, based on Ken Follett's best-selling novel, alongside his future Pirates of the Caribbean co-star, Sam Claflin. The eight-hour epic television event aired on Starz. In 2009, McShane starred in the motion picture 44 Inch Chest,” a drama created by the same team as Sexy Beast, co-starring Ray Winstone, who executive-produced along with McShane. In early 2009, he voiced the role of Mr. Bobinsky in Laika Entertainment's first animated feature, Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, directed by Henry Selick. He also appeared as a detective opposite Renee Zellweger in Paramount's Case 39.
Pirates of the CaribbeanEdit
Prior to the back-to-back productions of the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, Ian McShane was one of the actors considered to portray Davy Jones; however, the part was ultimately given to Bill Nighy. McShane would later be considered for the role of Blackbeard for the fourth Pirates film, On Stranger Tides, and he was signed on the film and would also lend his performance in the Disneyland attraction and A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas.
On Stranger TidesEdit
- "Blackbeard is probably the most infamous pirate who ever lived. There's a legion of stories about him, and whether they're true or not, he's now part of pirate mythology. I was impressed by the script, which is very funny and charming."
- ―Ian McShane
For the challenge of casting the role of history's most notorious pirate Blackbeard, for the fourth Pirates film, On Stranger Tides, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Rob Marshall turned to Ian McShane because of the actor's remarkable career in film and television for nearly 50 years, particularly because of his thunderously acclaimed performance as Al Swearengen in Deadwood. Soon-to-be costar Johnny Depp stated, "I don't think there's a better choice than Ian McShane, certainly, to play him." And so Ian McShane was signed on for the role of Blackbeard for On Stranger Tides.
In designing the look for Ian McShane's Blackbeard, although there was much historical documentation of the actual pirate, the creative artists on the film were prepared to give him their own fanciful touch. "We knew all about Blackbeard," says costume designer Penny Rose. "He wasn't very glamorous; he was a nasty piece of work, but obviously, for a movie, we wanted him to be glamorous as well."
"I just woke up one morning and said, 'My God, if they cast Ian McShane, he's got to be a biker,'" proclaims Rose. "Everybody jumped at it, and the only time it might have hiccupped was when I had to tell poor Mr. McShane that he would be wearing leather in Hawaii for two months. But he was quite happy to go with it, being a very professional, experienced actor who understands that it's worth suffering if you're going to look great. So we did Ian as a kind of Hells Angel biker pirate. We have him in lots of beaten-up leather and stud work, and Ian looks pretty mean in them, but also very handsome and striking." And even meaner once McShane's makeup artist, Kenny Myers, finished applying the very long, braided beard which gave the terrible pirate his very name.
On February 11, 2011, Ian McShane appeared on a soundstage in Los Angeles for a very special "head shot" of Blackbeard that would be featured in the Pirates attractions at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World. Blackbeard would make his appearance, replacing Davy Jones on the ghostly waterfall in the grotto scenes, of the park attractions on May 20, to coincide with the release of the fourth Pirates film, On Stranger Tides. Walt Disney Imagineering writer Michael Sprout (who wrote the script for Bill Nighy as Davy Jones several years prior) was on hand to direct the special shoot with Ian McShane. Michael said, "He came in wearing his complete Blackbeard costume, including the sword, saying it helped him stay in character!" Disney announced that this would only be a temporary replacement and that Davy Jones would return to the ride later that year.
On November 2011, the ride opened after a refurbishment, which included another change in the waterfall projection. For the Disneyland attraction, the grotto scene was modified to where both Blackbeard and Davy Jones appeared on the ride, with Blackbeard only appearing in Walt Disney World.
World of ColorEdit
To coincide with the release of the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, Disney had changed the World of Color, replacing the original Pirates scene as well as the following "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence (a fiery fan favorite) with a new extended sequence. Based on On Stranger Tides, it was around three minutes long, and featured numerous audio and video clips. One of the clips included Ian McShane as Blackbeard, who appears saying "And what fate befalls mutineers? Now we know the answer to that, do we not?" Upon Blackbeard saying "Mutineers...Hang!", the same effects used in the original version, starting with the ship sailing, begins as "He's a Pirate" as heard in "Drink Up Me Hearties" starts playing. His last appearance in the show was when blasts of Greek fire were seen, where Blackbeard yells "Again!"
A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven SeasEdit
In the new interactive game A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, Ian McShane's voice can be heard during the "Blackbeard" raid.
- He appeared in one episode of the 2011-2019 TV series Game of Thrones, which also featured Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Deobia Oparei and Anton Lesser.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (ride) – Blackbeard
- World of Color – Blackbeard
- A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas - Blackbeard (voice)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Blackbeard