This former child actor first gained attention and acclaim for his stage performance as Alan Strang the boy who mysteriously blinds horse in Peter Shaffer's well-received play "Equus." Peter Firth reprised the role in Sidney Lumet's 1977 film version and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
Born and raised in Yorkshire, the blond Firth began performing in amateur productions and by the time he was in his teens had dropped out of school to pursue an acting career. He landed a role as one of "The Double Deckers," a group of seven kids who cope with problems, that aired first in the UK and later in the US (ABC, 1970-72). Firth later gained fame in England as one of "The Flaxton Boys" (BBC, 1971-72) before segueing to the stage and screen. He made a brief appearance in Franco Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (1973) the same year he created his acclaimed stage role in "Equus." Firth spent the 1974 season with the National Theatre Company appearing in "Spring Awakening," "Measure for Measure" and "Romeo and Juliet."
In 1976, Firth had his first major film role, as a rookie WWI fighter pilot in "Aces High." He followed with the title role in Tony Richardson's uneven "Joseph Andrews" (1977). After his Oscar-nominated turn in "Equus," he essayed yet another troubled youth in "When You Coming Back Red Ryder?" before returning to period garb as the cleric's son who marries and abandons "Tess" (both 1979). Most of his film roles in the early 1980s generally did not provide Firth with much opportunity to shine. One of his better chances came with "Letter to Brezhnev" (1985), in which he was a Russian sailor romancing a Liverpudlian girl. He again spoke Russian as the doomed sailor in John McTiernan's "The Hunt For Red October" (1990). Firth was sympathetic as the doctor treating Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) in Richard Attenborough's "Shadowlands" (1992) and excelled as the nasty stage manager in Mike Newell's "An Awfully Big Adventure" (1995).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
First screen appearance in "Brother Sun, Sister Moon"
London stage debut, "Equus" at the National Theatre
Broadway debut, "Equus"
First feature role, "Aces High"
First feature lead, the title role in "Joseph Andrews"
Reprised role in film version of "Equus"; received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
Starred as Mozart on Broadway in "Amadeus"
Portrayed a Russian sailor in "Letter to Brezhnev"
Appeared in the British TV adaptation of "Northanger Abbey"
Provided character voice for Disney animated feature "The Rescuers Down Under"
Co-starred in "The Hunt for Red October"
Appeared as a doctor in "Shadowlands"
Joined the cast of the British TV series "Heartbeat"
Offered a fine supporting turn as a nasty stage manager in "An Awfully Big Adventure"
Was featured in the British series "The Broker's Man"
Acted in "Amistad"
Co-starred in "Chill Factor"
US TV debut as series regular on the CBS ensemble drama "That's Life"
Had featured role in "Pearl Harbor"
Cast in Bill Paxton's "The Greatest Game Ever Played" a golf drama based on the true story of the 1913 US Open
Nabbed a recurring part on the TV series "South Riding"
Joined the cast of the mini-series "World Without End"
Landed a supporting role in the action-adventure film "Risen"