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A British character player of international film and TV productions whose egg-shaped bald head and stocky frame have often lent themselves to villains, David Suchet has won the hearts of many Agatha Christie enthusiasts delivering what has come to the definitive screen portrayal of Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, a role he played from 1989-93 and again in 1995.
On the big screen, Suchet was memorable as the spy in "The Little Drummer Girl" (1984), a Soviet contact in "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985), and the French-accented hunter, Lafleur, in "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987). In 1988, he was the South African antagonist to Barbara Hershey in "A World Apart" and followed with a supporting turn as the Bishop in "To Kill a Priest" (1988; released in the USA in 1990). But his first screen lead came in 1997 when he played a homeless man mistaken for a great film director in Jonathan Nossiter's acclaimed independent "Sunday" (1997).
The actor trained for the stage at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and began his career in 1969 as an assistant stage manager at a small theater in Chester. By 1973, he had joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet." Featured roles followed, including The Fool in the 1974 RSC production of "King Lear" that traveled to the USA. Over the years, Suchet has returned to the RSC many times, in roles increasing in stature, including playing Shylock in a 1978 production of "The Merchant of Venice." More recently, he starred opposite Dame Diana Rigg in a 1996-97 revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Suchet made his feature film debut in 1978 playing Barsad in a remake of "A Tale of Two Cities" that aired in the USA on CBS in 1980 under the umbrella of "Hallmark Hall of Fame." While he had amassed credits that included a 1972 episode of the internationally syndicated series "The Protectors," his first role of substance was as scientist Edward Teller in the 1980 BBC miniseries "Oppenheimer" (aired in the USA on PBS in 1982). Playing Poirot has dominated his body of TV work, but Suchet also portrayed Sigmund Freud in "The Life of Freud" (BBC, 1986), had the lead in the TV version of Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent" (BBC-2 and PBS, 1992) and enacted Leopold Bloom in an adaptation of "James Joyce's 'Ulysses'" (PBS, 1993). In 1996, he could be seen on TNT as Aaron to Ben Kingsley's "Moses."
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
Joined the Gateway Theatre in Chester as assistant stage manager
TV debut in episode of "The Protectors" (syndicated)
First stage appearance with Royal Shakespeare Company
US stage debut as The Fool in production of "King Lear" at Brooklyn Academy of Music
Feature film debut in remake of "A Tale of Two Cities"
TV miniseries debut in "Oppenheimer" (BBC)
Appeared as antagonist in "A World Apart"
First played Hercule Poirot on British TV; later on PBS' "Mystery!" in the USA; ceased production in 1994
Played Leopold Bloom in "James Joyce's Ulysses" (PBS)
Played Aaron in the TNT miniseries "Moses"
Won praise for his leading role in the acclaimed independent feature "Sunday"
Returned to the London stage as Salieri in revival of "Amadeus"
Reprised role of Salieri in the Broadway staging of "Amadeus", directed by Peter Hall (who staged the original), earned Tony nomination as Actor in a Play
Appeared as MGM mogul Louis B Mayer in the HBO drama "RKO 281" about the making of Orson Welles' 1941 classic "Citizen Kane"
Reprised role of Poiret in original programs produced for A&E