Family & Companions
A handsome, athletic blond British lead, James Wilby garnered his first film success as the title character of "Maurice" (1987), the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E M Forster's novel about an Edwardian youth coming of age and coming to terms with his homosexuality.
Born in Rangoon (his father was an executive with the British Oxygen Company), Wilby was raised in England. While still in drama school at RADA, he landed a feature role in Michael Hoffman's "Privileged" (1982), alongside Hugh Grant and Imogen Stubbs. After graduating in 1983, he landed a leading role in the West End in the much-heralded production "Another Country," loosely based on the early life of spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. Based on his stage role, Wilby was cast by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory as Maurice, again opposite Hugh Grant. He followed with one of his best screen performances as an unhappily married aristocrat cuckolded by his wife in "A Handful of Dust" (1988) before reteaming with Merchant-Ivory to play Charles Wilcox in the superb adaptation of "Howards End" (1992). More recently, Wilby earned praise for his portrayal of poet Sigfried Sassoon in the WWI-era drama "Regeneration" (1997).
On the small screen, Wilby first caught American audiences' attention as Sidney Carton, who does a far better thing than he has ever done before, in the Granada TV remake of "A Tale of Two Cities" (aired in the USA in 1989 on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre"). He was Diana Rigg's son and the object of much more in "Mother Love," a 1990 British TV production that aired as an installment of PBS' "Mystery!." Throughout the 90s, Wilby has continued to appear on British television often as wealthy eccentrics as in the heroine's crippled husband in "Lady Chatterley" (1993) and as the unctuous owner of a mysterious estate in "The Woman in White" (1997).
Cast (Feature Film)
Screen acting debut in "Privileged"; co-starred with Hugh Grant
Made West End acting debut in "Another Country"
Starred in title role of the Merchant-Ivory production "Maurice"; starred opposite Hugh Grant
Played Sidney Carton in TV production of "A Tale of Two Cities" (aired on PBS)
Potrayed Diana Rigg's son in the acclaimed British TV drama "Mother Love" (aired in USA on PBS' "Mystery!")
Co-starred in the Merchant-Ivory production "Howards End"
Had featured role in British TV adaptation of "Adam Bede"
Played Sir Clifford Chatterly in BBC production of "Lady Chatterley"; co-starred with Joely Richardson and Sean Bean; released theatrically abroad
Returned to the London stage as star of the revival of John Osborne's "A Patriot for Me"
Portrayed Sigfried Sassoon in Gillies MacKinnon's "Regeneration"
Starred in the TV miniseries "The Woman in White" (aired in the USA on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre")
Cast as a dissolute Englishman in India in "Cotton Mary"
Portrayed a scheming guest at the titular home in "Gosford Park"
Cast as King George VI in the biographical drama "Bertie and Elizabeth"; aired on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre"
Featured in "De-lovely" with Kevin Kline as the legendary American composer Cole Porter