A chameleon-like performer with a knack for disappearing completely into his roles, Toby Jones was an award-winning actor and playwright who parlayed his success on the London stage into an acclaimed string of roles in films and television on both sides of the Atlantic. A bit and supporting player in U.K. and European features since the early 1990s, he hit his stride in 2002 with an Olivier Award-winning turn in the West End comedy "The Play What I Wrote." The show's popularity led to more visible roles in features and television, including "Finding Neverland" (2004) and "Elizabeth I" (2005). He gained his strongest notices and widest exposure for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in "Infamous" (2005), which was largely overshadowed by Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning take that same year in "Capote" (2005). Regardless of the snub, Jones' commitment to his characters had an effect on critics and producers alike, and he was soon a regular in both American and Continental productions, including "The Painted Veil" (2006) and Frank Darabont's "The Mist" (2006). He ably portrayed figures of historical importance in based-on-fact dramas like "Frost/Nixon" (2008) and the George Bush biopic "W" (2008), in addition to lending his colorful characterizations to entertainments like "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) and "The Hunger Games" (2012). A true actor's actor with the ability to completely transform himself to suit the needs of a character, Jones remained one of the more respected and sought after performers in film.
Born to an acting family in Oxford, England on Sept. 7, 1967, Jones was the son of larger-than-life character actor, Freddie Jones, and Jennifer Heslewood, who was a member of a long-running family of stage actors; brothers Rupert and Casey also followed in the family business by becoming a television director and actor, respectively. Jones took to acting at an early age, appearing in numerous productions at the prestigious Abingdon School for Boys, where his classmates included actor Tom Hollander and members of the indie-rock group, Radiohead. After studies at the Ecole Internationale du Theatre in Paris, he made his professional screen debut with a minor role in Sally Potter's "Orlando" (1992) and maintained an active presence in English television and film for the next decade. Among his more notable projects were Mike Leigh's "Naked" (1993), and a scene-stealing bit as a page in the revamped fairy tale "Ever After" (1999). During this period, he also maintained a regular presence on the British stage, including the National Theatre, for which he penned several productions. Among them was "Missing Reel," a play based on his own experiences of being deleted from the film "Notting Hill" (1999).
The year 2002 found Jones in the biggest film of his career to date, though in voice only; he provided the voice of the woeful house elf Dobby in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002), which earned him the admiration of adolescent readers around the globe. Greater acclaim followed a year later with "The Play What I Wrote," a comedy by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley about the ups and downs of a comedy act. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the show's key attraction was the appearance of a special guest star that Jones' character had to imitate. Over 50 major stars hit the boards for the show, including Sting, Liam Neeson, Ewan MacGregor and Daniel Radcliffe. Jones' performance netted him an Olivier Award in 2002, and he followed the play to Broadway in 2003, where he found himself doing his best to ape such American celebrities as Kevin Kline, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close and Al Roker. The increased exposure of "The Play What I Wrote" afforded Jones the opportunity to sink his teeth into more substantial roles in larger films. He played Mr. Smee, faithful second-in-command to Captain Hook in the stage production of "Peter Pan" depicted in "Finding Neverland" (2004), and wowed television audiences as Robert Cecil, the legendary spy and subsequent secretary of state under Queen Elizabeth I (Helen Mirren) in "Elizabeth I" (2004). The following year would prove to be a watershed for Jones, although at first, circumstances seemed to indicate otherwise.
Jones was cast as author Truman Capote in "Infamous" (2005), an American film about the writer's involvement with the real-life criminals he chronicled in his 1966 book, In Cold Blood. The project was announced at approximately the same time as Bennett Miller's film "Capote," which was addressing the same subject as "Infamous." Early buzz about Phillip Seymour Hoffman's turn as Capote raised a red flag with the producers of "Infamous," and they subsequently pushed back its release to avoid being overshadowed by the other film. As history bore out, Hoffman was universally praised for his performance, which netted him an Academy Award; the flurry of critical praise buried "Infamous" upon its release, and the picture died a relatively quick death at the box office. However, several critics managed to pen glowing reviews of Jones' performance, which ultimately earned the London Film Critics Award. Word of mouth eventually turned audiences towards the film upon its DVD release, which increased the press around Jones exponentially.
By 2006, Jones was working steadily in features, though largely in period dramas from Europe; he earned an ALFS Award nomination for his turn in the W. Somerset Maugham adaptation "The Painted Veil" (2006) with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. The following year, he displayed a talent for American accents as a quiet supermarket manager who displays enormous heroism in the face of nightmarish odds in Frank Darabont's controversial horror film "The Mist" (2007). That degree of fortitude informed his subsequent Hollywood turns, which included one as the perpetually bespectacled Hollywood agent, Irving 'Swifty' Lazar, who brokered the deal between talk show host David Frost and a shamed President Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon" (2007). He followed this with an even more formidable figure, the Washington GOP advisor Karl Rove, better known as "Bush's brain," in Oliver Stone's portrayal of the lame-duck 43rd U.S. president, "W" (2008).
After a few years that saw Jones in a number of smaller film and television productions in the U.K. and in addition to the high-profile box-office bombs "The Rite" (2011) and "Your Highness" (2011), the actor went on to enjoy one of the more prolific and successful periods of his career. He gleefully played the brilliant, but misguided scientist Dr. Arnim Zola in the WWII superhero adventure "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011), then transitioned to the role of the doomed Hollywood sex symbol's publicist in the Monroe biopic "My Week With Marilyn" (2011). That same year he played the head of British Intelligence opposite Gary Oldman in the heralded remake of John le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (2011), in addition to lending his voice to director Steven Spielberg's animated thrill ride "The Adventures of Tintin" (2011).
As busy as the prior year had been for the actor, 2012 quickly began to shape up as one of the more momentous of Jones' career. After supporting turns alongside Robert De Niro in the paranormal thriller "Red Lights" (2012) and in the hugely anticipated dystopian actioner "The Hunger Games" (2012), Jones portrayed a faithful manservant and devoted husband, just one of thousands of passengers aboard the doomed ocean liner, in "Titanic" (ABC, 2012), a four-part miniseries which viewed the tragedy through a prism of post-Victorian class inequality. Switching from historical melodrama to the realm of fantasy-adventure, Jones was barely recognizable as Coll, one of the feisty Seven Dwarfs in the big-budget reimagining of the classic fairy tale, "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012). Although the film received only limited release, Jones' bravura starring performance as a sound engineer whose work on an Italian horror movie begins to take on terrifying overtones in the psychological thriller "Berberian Sound Studio" (2012) earned him rave reviews. He then returned to television as Alfred Hitchcock in "The Girl" (HBO, 2012), a fictionalized account of the revered director's professional relationship and personal obsession with the actress Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller). It came as no surprise when the role later garnered the chameleon-like Jones a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made screen-acting debut in the film adaptation of "Orlando"
Played a door keeper in "Les Misérables"
Played an English Judge in "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc"
Starred in the London West End comedy "The Play What I Wrote," directed by Kenneth Branagh
Voiced Dobby the house-elf in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
Cast as Robert Cecil, the first Earl of Salisbury, in the HBO/Channel 4 production "Elizabeth I"
Appeared in "Finding Neverland," starring Johnny Depp and directed by Marc Forster
Cast in John Curran's adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel "The Painted Veil"
Starred in the title role in the Truman Capote biopic "Infamous"
Co-starred in Stephen King's "The Mist"
Cast in "Amazing Grace," Michael Apted's film about the slave trade in 19th century Britain
Portrayed Swifty Lazar, the legendary talent agent and deal-maker in the film adaption of Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon"
Portrayed former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in Oliver Stone's controversial biodrama "W."
Reprised voice role of Dobby in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"
Was cast as a nefarious scientist opposite Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger"
Portrayed Marilyn Monroe's publicist Arthur Jacobs in "My Week with Marilyn"
Played the chief of a British Intelligence unit in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Lent his vocal talent in "The Adventures of Tintin," directed by Steven Spielberg
Cast as one of the eight dwarfs in "Snow White and the Huntsman," opposite Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron
Acted opposite Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro in the drama thriller "Red Lights"
Appeared on TV mini-series "Titanic"
Portrayed Alfred Hitchcock opposite Sienna Miller (as Tippi Hedren) in HBO's "The Girl"
Was cast as Claudius Templesmith in "The Hunger Games"
Reprised "Hunger Games" role in the sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Played a sheriff, opposite Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, in period drama "Serena"
Reprised "Captain America" role in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"
Began playing Lance on sitcom "Detectorists"
Appeared in period drama "The Man Who Knew Infinity"
Was a series regular on "Wayward Pines"
Appeared in Tomas Alfredson's critically panned "The Snowman"
Appeared in "Jurassic Park" sequel "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
Voiced Owl in Disney's live action Winnie-the-Pooh sequel, "Christopher Robin"