Family & Companions
A Liverpudlian actor who shot to fame with two memorable turns as John Lennon in the early 1990s, Ian Hart went on to build an impressive career, with an unending list of film roles that showcased his talent and versatility. Hart's portrayals of the iconic Beatle in the heralded black-and-white character study short "The Hours and Times" (1991) and the engagingly speculative, music-infused drama "Backbeat" (1994) were roundly acclaimed. The wan, thinning haired, blue-eyed actor was well-disguised for the roles with wigs and contact lenses, making him a perfect physical match to the late musician, while allowing him to escape typecasting. Hart's fondness and talent for immersing himself fully in a role, and chameleonic ability to become someone entirely different in looks and manner made him a sought after character player who enjoyed a fruitful career.
Unlike many English actors, Hart didn't take the usual Shakespearean route to his craft (he didn't study at RADA or LAMDA or work with the RSC), but instead honed a more naturalistic style that separated him from his European contemporaries. He began his work on TV at age 17, appearing in such BBC productions as "The Monocled Mutineer" and "The Marksman," as well as "The Traveling Man" for Granada Television. After several years on stage with the Liverpool Playhouse, Hart made his feature film debut in 1986 with a small role in the Liverpool-set feature "No Surrender." The Lennon roles followed, and rather than let those pigeonhole and feasible break his career, he used their popularity as a springboard. Now Hart's name was known, and his subsequent performances would mark him as a fine actor rather than just a good Lennon impersonator. Hart was cast in a starring role by Ken Loach in the director's gripping Spanish Civil War-set drama "Land and Freedom" (1995), playing an unemployed young Englishman who joins the fight against Franco fascism. That same year he garnered praise and a best supporting actor honor at the Venice Film Festival for his turn as a brutal Protestant loyalist terrorizing 1975 Troubles-shaken Northern Ireland in the hard-hitting "Nothing Personal." 1995 proved a busy year for Hart, who also had the featured role of a war veteran brought to renewed life by the energy his Welsh townsfolk emanate in their attempt to increase the size of a local mound in the gentle comedy "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down A Mountain" (1995) and parts in the smaller scale independents "Loved Up" and "Clockwork Mice."
Comfortable with and capable of essaying all sorts of parts, from troubled future legend to arrogant blowhard to beaten down Everyman, Hart followed up with a turn as the gentle, supportive lover of a gay father (Martin Donovan) fighting for custody of his child in 1996's moving "The Hollow Reed." He was additionally featured in that year's "Michael Collins," playing the key role of secretary to Liam Neeson's inspired revolutionary in Neil Jordan's epic biopic. Jordan then cast Hart alongside Stephen Rea and Fiona Lewis in the black comedy "The Butcher Boy" (1997). Hart also won 1997 roles as a 50s gangster alongside Harold Pinter in "Mojo" and an Irishman who moves to NYC to find success in the forgettable "Gold in the Streets." Not one to rest on his laurels, Hart appeared the following year in another round of films, this time working in US productions big and small, from ensemble roles in Amos Poe's New York-set "Frogs For Snakes" and Ted Demme's Boston-based "Monument Ave." to a starring role in the little-seen drama "Still Waters Burn" and even an appearance in the blockbuster thriller "Enemy of the State."
In 1999, Hart kept busy with a role in Michael Radford's anticipated but lacking drama "B. Monkey." More impressive was his turn as the elder half of a father-son detective team on the trail of a woman (Julianne Moore), reporting their findings to her former lover (Ralph Fiennes) in the celebrated drama "The End of the Affair" (1999), written and directed by Neil Jordan. US fans of the actor could catch him in several 2000 big screen appearances, including that of a man whose relationship suffers due to his problems with anger and alcohol in Michael Winterbottom's "Wonderland" and a more lighthearted role as a single Irishman seeking a beautiful American wife in Aileen Ritchie's comedy "The Closer You Get." Hart would also be featured on American small screens in 2000, when the Channel 4 historical miniseries "Longitude" aired on A&E. Keeping up his healthy pace, the actor starred in "Strictly Sinatra" (2001) playing a Scottish singer who hooks up with local gangsters for career enhancement. He co-starred in the British drama "Aberdeen" (2000; released in the USA in 2001) and the American comedy "Spring Forward" (which debuted at Sundance in 2000) and took a supporting role in "Best" (2000), a biopic starring John Lynch as legendary Manchester United football star George Best.
Hart teamed up with Stephen Frears to play the father of "Liam" (2000), a 7-year-old making his first Holy Communion in Depression-era Liverpool, and was transported to 1920s Ireland for the comedy "How Harry Became a Tree" (lensed 2000). Though the actor had been outspoken about his lack of esteem for the theater, Hart tread the boards when a project that piqued his interest came forth, like the 2001 revival of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming." The actor starred alongside Ian Holm, portraying the character that Holm has originated in the premiere production. A role as a Professor of Dark Arts ("If you're not a kid, you're a wizard") in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001) brought the actor to what would likely be his widest audience to date, while projects like the 2002 thriller "Killing Me Softly" would see him again make the most of a supporting character role. Surely Hart's tireless work, proven talent, and limitless versatility would ensure him a full and promising acting career for years to come.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Began acting at age 17 (date approximate)
Made film debut with a small role in "No Surrender"
First starring feature role, played John Lennon in the black-and-white short "The Hours and Times", directed by Christopher Munch
Again played Lennon, this time as a young upstart musician, in "Backbeat"
Had starring role in Kenneth Loach's "Land and Freedom", playing a Brit who goes to fight in the Spanish Civil War
Appeared in the features "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain", "Clockwork Mice" and "Loved Up"
Co-starred as Ginger, a hothead Loyalist assassin, in the Troubles-themed drama "Nothing Personal"; won best supporting actor prize at the Venice Film Festival for his work
Gave a memorable performance as the supportive lover of a man fighting for custody of his young son in the fact-based drama "The Hollow Reed"
Co-starred in "Michael Collins" as the title character's secretary, marking his debut in a US produced film; first collaboration with writer-director Neil Jordan
Reunited with Neil Jordan for a supporting role in "The Butcher Boy"
Played the club manager in "Mojo", adapted by Jez Butterworth from his stage play
Starred in the small scale independents "Still Waters Burn" and "Frogs For Snakes"
Had a supporting turn in the conspiracy thriller "Enemy of the State"
Appeared in the British independent features "B. Monkey" and "This Year's Love"
Played an angry alcoholic with marital problems in Michael Winterbottom's "Wonderland" (released in USA in 2000)
Featured as a private detective tracking a woman (Julianne Moore) for her former lover (Ralph Fiennes) in the acclaimed drama "The End of the Affair"; third collaboration with Neil Jordan
Starred as a man trying to lure eligible American women to his small Irish town in the comedy "The Closer You Get"
Appeared in the fact-based historical miniseries "Longitude", aired on Britian's Channel 4 and A&E in the USA
Co-starred in "Born Romantic"; screened at Toronto Film Festival; released in USA in 2001
Played the title character's father in Stephen Frears' "Liam"; shown at Venice Film Festival; released in the USA in 2001
Portrayed a Scottish singer who gets involved with local gangsters hoping it will propel him into the big time in "Cocozza's Way/Strictly Sinatra"
Co-starred with Ian Holm in a stage revival of "The Homecoming"; played role Holm originated in the premiere staging of the Pinter drama; acted in London, then recreated the part in NYC as part of a 70th birthday tribute to the author
Featured as a truck driver who romances a feisty lawyer in the drama "Aberdeen"
Played Professor Quirrell in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
Appeared in the thriller "Killing Me Softly", starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes and directed by Chen Kaige
Cast in "Finding Neverland" which details the experiences of 'Peter Pan' author J.M. Barrie