James Frain

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as Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

James Frain as Thomas Cromwell

Date of Birth: March 14, 1968

Birth Place
: Leeds, England

Eye Color: Blue

Height: 6' (1.83 m)

Family: one of eight siblings

Wife: Marta Cunningham (2004 to present)

Education: BA Drama
University of East Anglia, then went on to study at London's Central School of Speech and Drama

Actor Bio:The eldest of eight children of a stockbroker and a teacher, Frain began thinking about acting as a kid but didn't get serious until he entered the University of East Anglia. After graduation, he moved on to London's Central School of Speech and Drama. His very first film audition resulted in a role as one of Anthony Hopkins' students in Sir Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands.
Since that debut performance 15 years ago, Frain has kept busy on both sides of the Atlantic. On film, career highlights include playing pianist Daniel Barenboim in Hilary and Jackie, Bassianus in Julie Taymor's Titus, Natalie Portman's love interest in Where the Heart Is and Kim Raver's ex in the fourth season of 24. (Like most of those who pass through the world of Jack Bauer, his character, Paul Raines, did not survive.) On stage, he's acted in productions at the Royal Court and Royal Shakespeare Company, among others.

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Non-acting careers: Audio Books

Water for Elephants (2012)
Transit (2011)
TRON:Legacy (2010

Quid Pro Quo (2007),
Into the Blue (2005
Spartacus (2004),
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Where the Heart Is (2000),
The Miracle Maker (2000),
Reindeer Games (2000),
Elizabeth (1998),
Vigo (1998),
Robinson Crusoe (1997)

TV Shows:
The White Queen (2013)
The Cape (2011)
CSI: Miami (2010)
True Blood (2010)
Miami Medical (2010)
Flashforward (2009 -10)
CSI (2009)
Californication (2009)
Law & Order;SVU (2009)
Everybody's fine (2009)
Lie to me (2009)
Grey's Anatomy (2009)
In Plain Sight (2009)

The Tudors (2007-2009),
Law and Order 'Criminal Intent' (as Dean Holiday, 2008),
Numb3rs (as Allistar McClair, 2007), The Closer (2006),
Invasion: as Eli Suzra, 2006),
24: (as Paul Raines, 2005),
Threshold (as Reverand Lavory, 2005), Prime Suspect (1993)

King Lear (Edmund) at Almeida Theatre, Othello (Iago) at BBC Radio 3, Other People (Mark) at Royal Court Theatre, Zenophobia (Wahballat) at RSC, She Stoops to Conquer (Hastings) at Queen Theatre in London, All For Love (Myris) at Almeida and tour, Rules of the Game (Giorgo) Almeida.

Big break: Shadowlands (1993)

Best known for: Where the Heart Is (2000), Sunshine (1999), 24 - (2005)

Awards: none (yet). One Genie nomination in 2000 - supporting actor for Sunshine

Upcoming projects: The White Queen (2013). Frain is set to play Lord Warwick (the father of Queen Anne, consort to Richard III and a great-uncle to Sir Thomas Parr, father of Queen Catherine Parr) in the BBC/STARZ series based on The Cousins War; a trilogy of historical fiction books on three influential women in The War of the Roses by Philippa Gregory. STARZ will be airing the series in August 2013 (US).

James Frain plays Thomas Cromwell in The TudorsTalk about...

James Frain



  • In reference to his many siblings James once said in a 2000 interview, " Once you've had the first four, it becomes self-regulating. I could change a nappy [diaper] with one hand by the time I was six years old."

  • "I spend a lot of time with my brothers and sisters. They're really important to me. If I'm feeling down, or alone, or frightened, it's always them I turn to. When I was a teenager I was very keen to leave home. I just wanted to get into the world and do things."

  • In which medium - film or stage - do you most prefer working? "It's sort of ridiculous to compare the two because they're so different. But I do prefer film. Film is about the spontaneous and natural moment. It should be the same in theatre but it's not. Also, and I know this is opposite to what many people say, I think film is the actor's medium and theatre is the director's. On stage, the director chooses what play is done and then determines the style and tone of the performance - it's all about the director's vision. With film, that's not so much the case and they never tell you to be anything but natural. In theatre, the term 'natural' is used in a disparaging fashion. I like to come back to the theatre, though, because of the writing." James Frain (from 2002 interview while doing King Lear).

  • From a 1999 interview - "Promoting the parts I appear in is part of the business. I understand that and accept that but it's a big, big intrusion into your life. Also, as you become more of a personality, you become less of an actor."

  • "My knowledge of history was pretty thin," Frain admits, "but as far as [show creator] Michael Hirst was concerned, my character was the Lenin of the Reformation. He wanted to annihilate the Catholic Church and basically did within five years."

  • The key to The Tudors' success? "[Hirst] put a lot of sex in it and made it look young and fresh and edgy," Frain says, "but once people get drawn into the story, they're good to go because the story is fantastic."

  • Working on The Tudors' excellent scripts helped pave the way for his return the stage: "It really got me in the mode of thinking like a stage actor, where you have to absolutely respect the language."

  • On researching Tudor history: "The more that I read, the more I realized that there are lots of different opinions about this period of history. I think I found someone who said that it's the single-most written-about period of English history, the 1515 to 1530, '45, that period, because we don't finally know the answer to a lot of key questions, and because the personalities were complex and because there are different agendas at stake," Frain says during an interview in January at the Universal Hilton. "Through English history, you can see different periods have different perspectives on what happened being more or less sympathetic toward the Catholic or Protestant idea of events, or who is responsible for what." <a class="external" href="http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/tv-radio/story/1299647.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Fresno Bee</a>

  • "What they're doing with this show is shaking up history a bit and adding this pop angle to it in a way that we can relate to these people being like us. They're finding the connections between their world and our world. We were looking for parallels as a way of recreating the feeling of the court rather than portray the exact look of it. Sometimes if you try and do it completely accurately to the actual look and the flavor of the history, it distances you because there are lots of things about our world that are very different."
  • "Henry VIII was the rock star of his time. That's part of what Johnny's performance is all about -- creating what an equivalent character would be like today. These people are driven by the same things we are driven by. Like we are sexual, they were driven by passion and were confused about ideas of the world and religion and how the world should be run, what they are prepared to die for and kill for. It just goes to show human nature hasn't changed that much."


  • James is the oldest of eight siblings
  • He made his Broadway debut in the fall of 2007 appearing in the Harold Pinter revival "The Homecoming"
  • Some of his non-acting jobs were - waiter, playgroup leader, theatre usher and cleaning toilets on a construction site
  • James has two children who have never seen his movies and he doesn't even tell them he is an actor


James Frain headshot James Frain
"The White Queen" -- James Frain as Lord Warwick"The White Queen" -- James Frain as Lord Warwick
"The White Queen" (2013)
"The White Queen" -- James Frain as Lord Warwick
James Frain in The Cape
The Cape
James Frain
True Blood
300px|James Frain - The Tudors WikiJames Frain - The Tudors Wiki
James Frain - The Tudors Wiki
At the premiere for Season 2
James with JRM
with Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Season 3 promoting
promoting Season 3
James with Joss Stone and JRM
with Joss Stone and JRM
James Frain with Peter O'Toole
with "the Pope", Peter O'Toole
James Frain in an Armani Suit
Magazine - Da Suit
James Frain as Franklin on True Blood

True Blood
James Frain in "The Cape"
The Cape
James Frain - The Tudors Wiki
Chief magistrate J. F. Villefort
in The Count of Monte Cristo
James Frain in TRON, the legacy
TRON, the Legacy
James Frain on Leverage

James Frain plays Thomas Cromwell in The Tudors

James Frain portrays Roman Senator
Marcus Brutus in Empire

James Frain - The Tudors Wiki
As the Spanish ambassador in Elizabeth

James Frain - The Tudors Wiki
As the Spanish Ambassador in Elizabeth

where the heart is
With Natalie Portman in Where the Heart Is
Vigo- Starring James Frain
James and Marta
James and his wife, actress Marta Cunningham
Marta Cunningham
Marta's head shot on IMDB

James Frain with his wife Marta

James at the 18th Annual BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards
James Frain and Marta 2011
James Frain with his wife Marta
HBO Golden Globes party 2011
James Frain with his wife Marta
BAFTA party 2011
James Frain
James Frain solo on the red carpet at last night's Life Out Loud Pride Cocktail Party 11 June 2011
James and Marta
James Frain and Marta Cunningham arriving at the Life Out Loud Pride Cocktail Party 11 June 2011
James Frain, Anthony Byrne and Natalie Dormer attending US-Ireland Alliance Celebration Honoring Paul Rudd And Sarah Bolger


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