A versatile character actor, equally adept at thugs and ne'er-do-wells as he was with businessmen and artists, Jared Harris contributed memorable performances to such films as "I Shot Andy Warhol" (1995), "Happiness" (1998) and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008), as well as television programs like "Mad Men" (AMC, 2007-15). The son of volatile Irish actor Richard Harris, he shared none of his father's penchant for theatrical performances, preferring instead for thoughtful, carefully controlled turns. He soon garnered a reputation for near-complete transformations for each role; from the ethereal Warhol to a scheming Russian cabdriver in "Happiness" and a mercurial John Lennon in "Two of Us" (VH1, 2001) to the buttoned-down English financial officer on "Mad Men." That mainstream breakthrough led to higher-profile roles for Harris in films ranging from Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" (2012) to action drama "Pompeii" (2014) and Guy Ritchie's TV series reboot "The Man from UNCLE" (2015). A key role as King George VI in Peter Morgan's "The Crown" (Netflix 2016- ) and a supporting role in indie drama "Certain Women" (2016) kept him firmly in the public eye. Harris' breadth of talent made him one of the most capable character actors in the business.
Born Jared Francis Harris on Aug. 24, 1961, he was the second of three sons by Harris and his wife, Welsh socialite and occasional actress Elizabeth Rees-Williams. The boys' stepfather was the actor Rex Harrison, whom Rees-Williams married after her divorce from Harris in 1969. All three of their sons followed their parents into the business; eldest brother Damian Harris became the director of thrillers such as "Bad Company" (1995) and "Mercy" (2000), while youngest sibling Tudor St. James Harris - known professionally as Jamie Harris - appeared in the ridiculously violent "Crank: High Voltage" (2009) and "The Green Hornet" (2010).
Initially, Jared had little interest in the acting business, but changed his mind after appearing in a student film project while attending the University of North Carolina in the early 1980s. After graduation, he returned to England and furthered his training as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company before making his debut in his brother's first feature film, the coming-of-age drama "The Rachel Papers" (1989). Roles in Off-Broadway productions alternated with minor turns in Hollywood features like "Far and Away" (1992), "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992) and "Natural Born Killers" (1994), in which he played a British fan of Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis' deranged heroes in the latter. A breakthrough came with a supporting turn as Harvey Keitel's mentally challenged shop assistant in Wayne Wang's improvised films "Smoke" (1995) and "Blue in the Face" (1995), but it was his performance as Andy Warhol in Mary Harron's "I Shot Andy Warhol" that brought him national attention. Harris landed the role by bringing a video camera to the audition and filming Harron as she filmed his performance.
The critical success of "Warhol" put Harris into contention for leading man status, but he rarely found the proper vehicle to showcase his talents in that regard. There were opportunities; most notably as Asia Argento's hesitant lover in "B. Monkey" (1998), but he seemed to fare better in character parts, which allowed him to delve deeply into a wider variety of roles. His cold-blooded Russian cab driver, who seduces and shakes down Jane Adams before abandoning her, was among the more unsettling figures in Todd Solondz's "Happiness" (1998), then shifted gears to play an older version of Jack Johnson's Will Robinson, driven somewhat insane by years in isolation, in the big screen version of "Lost in Space" (1998). In 2000, he played a convincing, post-Beatles John Lennon opposite Aidan Quinn's Paul McCartney in "Two of Us" (VH1, 2000), an account of a day in 1976 when the two men buried their long-standing feud. He then took a lighter tack to play Kenneth Branagh's doppleganger in the little-seen black comedy, "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" (2000).
Like his father, he feared little from costume fare, making an impressive Henry VIII in the BBC production of "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2003), but seemed to favor more modern roles. Once again, he moved from genre and time period with exceptional ease, playing 1950s-era bondage photographer John Willie in "The Notorious Bettie Page" (2005) and Al Alvarez, poetry editor for The London Observer in the Sylvia Plath biopic, "Sylvia" (2003). He flashed forward to the present as Don Cheadle's engineer in "Oceans Twelve" (2004) and into the future as Dr. Ashford, creator of the virulent zombie virus that plagued "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004).
Television eventually became one of Harris' regular mediums, and again, he displayed his chameleon-like abilities to fully inhabit a wide variety of roles. He was the brutish Eamon Quinn, an Irish con man and former convict on "The Riches" (FX, 2007-08), then became the malevolent biochemist David Robert Jones, who had the power to teleport himself, on the first season of "Fringe" (Fox, 2008-13). Viewers used to his more sinister roles were pleasantly surprised to see him play the bigger-than-life Captain Mike, who helps Brad Pitt become a man as he grew younger in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008). He then transformed himself into the stuffy, by-the-books Lane Pryce, a British financial officer sent to oversee the firm of Sterling Cooper on "Mad Men." Pryce transforms the company, but soon finds out that his own employers have targeted him for obsolescence. In an unexpected move, he partners with the key figures from that firm to open a new one in America, his reluctant new home. For his work, he shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble with the show's cast in 2010 - the same year he was tapped to play a mental hospital physician in John Carpenter's thriller "The Ward" (2010). His performance as Pryce later earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2012 - the first such honor of his career. Harris next appeared on the big screen in the role of archnemesis Moriarty in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011). Upon leaving "Mad Men" in 2012 upon the conclusion of Lane Pryce's story arc, Harris portrayed Ulysses S. Grant in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" (2012), followed by supporting roles in the action films "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (2013) and "Pompeii" (2014), as well as the animated hit "The Boxtrolls" (2014). He also starred in the little-seen thriller "The Quiet Ones" (2014) and appeared in two commercially unsuccessful reboots, "Poltergeist" (2015) and "The Man From UNCLE" (2015). Supporting roles in Sean Penn's "The Last Face" (2016) and indie drama "Certain Women" (2016), followed, as did a key role in Peter Morgan's TV series "The Crown" (Netflix 2016- ), telling the story of Queen Elizabeth II's reign; Harris co-starred as King George VI.
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Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Made film debut in "The Rachel Papers" directed by his brother Damian
Played Hotspur in off-Broadway production of "Henry IV"; moved to New York City
Co-starred as Tom Cruise's brother in Ron Howard's "Far and Away"
Played vampire twin in "Nadja"
Starred as the artist in "I Shot Andy Warhol"
Appeared as a sexy Russian cab driver in "Happiness"
Co-starred in "B. Monkey" (filmed in 1996)
Starred as an early 20th Century filmmaker in China in "Shadow Magic"
Tackled "Hamlet" at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival in a multimedia production that saw Richard Harris play the ghost of Hamlet's father via digital technology
Appeared in the off-Broadway play "More Lies About Jerzy"
Played smack-dealing performance artists Russel in the indie film "Igby Goes Down"
Appeared in the biopic "Sylvia," starring Gwyneth Paltrow
Co-starred in M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water"
Cast in the HBO original film "The Notorious Bettie Page," starring Gretchen Mol as the 1950s pinup
Appeared opposite Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Landed a recurring guest role on "Fringe" (Fox)
Cast as a straight-laced ad agency CFO Lane Price on "Mad Men" (AMC), character committed suicide during fifth season
Played a supporting role opposite Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser in "Extraordinary Measures"
Cast as the villain Moriarty opposite Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law in Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"
Portrayed Ulysses S. Grant opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln"
Appeared in the historic disaster film "Pompei"
Appeared in the drama "Certain Women"