Family & Companions
Tall, blond and striking, with angular features and an unmistakable European air, British actor Julian Sands looked right at home in the tasteful historical dramas, gothic horror films, and international espionage roles he became known for. This veteran actor started out charming audiences in the 1985 film "A Room With A View," but darker roles in "Warlock" (1989), "Boxing Helena" (1993), and a string of films with director Mike Figgis always suggested a powerful talent with the potential to become a household name if the right role came along.
Julian Sands was born in Otley, the Yorkshire region of England, in January of 1958. He was classically trained in drama at the Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire and the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where one can imagine he refined his elegant and distinct speaking voice. He joined London's Forum Theatre Company and was active with stage work, while dipping his t into a film career by landing a series of supporting roles in well-respected films like Derek Jarman's short "Broken English," Roland Joffe's Academy Award-winning "The Killing Fields" (1984) and in lighter fare like "Oxford Blues" (1984) and "After Darkness"(1985).
In 1985, James Ivory took a chance on the fair-haired unknown, casting him as the romantic lead in the film adaptation of E.M. Forsters' "A Room with a View," which was the year's critical fave and a Golden Globe and Oscar-nominee for Best Picture. Sands portrayed George Emerson, a Victorian non-conformist with literary leanings and a straightforward romantic manner that sent the object of his affection (Helena Bonham Carter) into a whirlwind of confusion over societal norms. The likeable film earned Sands a pile of attention from swooning females and casting directors alike, with film and TV opportunities abounding as a result. Not surprisingly, he moved from London to Hollywood to make these opportunities happen.
Sands entered the world of the "big" Hollywood picture with parts in middle-of-the-road comedies like "Vibes" (1988) and "Arachnophobia"(1990), but by this point, had tapped into what would be a popular genre for his particular look - the stylized sexual horror film. He played author Percy Shelly in "Gothic" (1986) and further explored the realm of night-dwelling demons in films like "Siesta" (1988), "Warlock" (1989) and "Warlock: The Armageddon" (1993). Sands would revisit the period costume closet to play composer Franz Liszt in "Impromptu" (1991), before associating himself with several films which gained wide attention for their controversial natures - David Cronenberg's creepy "Naked Lunch" (1991) and the daring drama "Boxing Helena" (1992), in which he starred as a psychotic doctor with a fetish for amputees.
In 1994, Sands began what would become a lengthy working relationship with British director Mike Figgis, appearing in the heavy drama "The Browning Version." The following year, he combined everything he'd learned in psycho-sexual roles and added a sinister Eastern Block twist to create the pimp in Figgis' Academy Award-winning "Leaving Las Vegas"(1995). Figgis, who had always had a strained relationship with the Hollywood system, cast Sands in "The Loss of Sexual Innocence" (1999) before deciding to take a more experimental direction in filmmaking. Sands followed him into this cutting edge territory by appearing in the technically ambitious film, "Timecode," (2000), which was shot with four cameras simultaneously and presented in four quadrants on one screen.
In 1998, Sands enjoyed the opportunity to work with legendary Italian director Dario Argento on the critically bombed Italian filmed version of "Phantom of the Opera" before TV roles began to take up the bulk of his schedule. He starred in the miniseries "Rose Red" and "Napoleon" and began a string of one-offs on popular series such as "The L Word" (HBO, 2004-), "Stargate SG-1" (Syndicated, 1997-) and "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC, 1999-). In 2006, Sands got a profile boost and a regular paycheck when he was cast as the villainous Vladimir Bierko in the award-winning action series "24" (Fox, 2001-). Bierko was killed (and had his knees broken) by Jack Bauer during season five.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
TV debut in "A Married Man" on England's Channel Four (syndicated in 1984)
First appearance in feature film, "Privates on Parade"; had one-line part
Had a featured role in Roland Joffe's "The Killing Fields"
Appeared in the comedy "Oxford Blues"
Featured in the NBC TV-movie "Romance on the Orient Express"
Played Percy Bysshe Shelley in "Gothic", a Ken Russell film based loosely upon the memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Had a memorable featured role in the Merchant-Ivory production "A Room With a View"
Starred in the Robert Altman-directed ABC TV-movie presentation "The Room", based on Harold Pinter's one-act play
Featured in the quirky psychic comedy "Vibes"
Starred as a 17th-century "Warlock" in Steve Miner's time travel adventure
Featured in the thriller "Arachnophobia"
Had a starring role in "Il Sole anche di notte", a Italian-French co-production helmed by the Taviani brothers
Played Franz Liszt in James Lapine's "Impromptu" and Gustav Jung in Carlo Lizzani's "Cattiva"
Had a supporting role in David Cronenberg's ambitious "Naked Lunch"
Acted in TNT's "Grand Isle", a TV-movie drama based on Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"
Starred in Jennifer Chambers Lynch's notorious directorial debut "Boxing Helena"
Reprised titular role in "Warlock: The Armageddon"
Played a leftist German author encountering the rise of facism in 1920s Italy in Klaus Maria Bransauer's "Mario and the Magician"
Co-starred in Mike Figgis' "The Browning Version", the first of several collaborations with the director
Acted in the ABC TV-movie "The Great Elephant Escape"
Had a supporting role in Figgis' "Leaving Las Vegas"
Had a guest starring role on an episode of "Chicago Hope" (CBS)
Appeared in the Mike Figgis drama "One Night Stand"
Starred as "The Phantom of the Opera" in Dario Argento's reworking of the classic tale
Reteamed with Figgis, starring in the episodic "The Loss of Sexual Innocence"
Played King Louis XIV in Roland Joffe's "Vatel", the story of a chef and entertainer hired to fete the monarch
Acted in Figgis' experimental "Timecode", a presentation of four fully improvised movies filmed in a single take and exhibited on a quadruple split screen
Appeared in the sex-themed suspense thriller "Mercy", aired on HBO
Co-starred in the romantic drama "The Scoundrel's Wife"
Joined the cast of the FOX drama "24" in season five as billionaire bad guy, Vladamir Bierko
Landed a recurring role on "Lipstick Jungle"
Played Jor-El on "Smallville"
Nabbed a recurring role on "Gotham"
Voiced a role in the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired animated mystery film "Extraordinary Tales"