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Hugh Dancy Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (25)  | Personal Quotes (68)

Overview (3)

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, UK
Nickname Fancy Dancy
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Talented British actor Hugh Dancy is one of the UK's most up-and-coming talents.

Hugh Michael Horace Dancy was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, to Sarah Ann (Birley), who works in academic publishing, and Jonathan Peter Dancy, a philosophy professor and writer. He has a brother, Jack (b. 1977), and a sister, Kate (b. 1980). He was raised in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

He got started with roles in the series Trial & Retribution (1997), Dangerfield (1995), Kavanagh QC (1995) and Granada's popular series Cold Feet (1997), and his theater appearances include Sam Mendes' David Copperfield (2000) and BBC's Madame Bovary (2000) and Daniel Deronda (2002). He also portrayed "D'Artagnan" in the series Young Blades (2001).

Dancy's appearance in Ridley Scott's war drama, Black Hawk Down (2001), as "Medic Kurt Schmid" was followed with starring roles in Tempo (2003) with Melanie Griffith and Rachael Leigh Cook and The Sleeping Dictionary (2003). He played "Prince Charmont" opposite Anne Hathaway in Ella Enchanted (2004) and "Sir Galahad" in King Arthur (2004).

He has since become well known for his roles as the "Earl of Essex" in the HBO mini-series Elizabeth I (2005) and "Will Graham" in the critically acclaimed NBC series Hannibal (2013).

Dancy married American actress Claire Danes in 2009. The couple has one child.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Claire Danes (September 2009 - present) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (5)

Delicate, asymmetrical features
Mellow, soothing voice
Cascading curls
Soulful blue eyes
Fluent American accent

Trivia (25)

Attended Ranger boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, for a week with the rest of the Black Hawk Down (2001) cast. Hugh, who portrays Ranger medic Kurt "Doc" Schmid in the film, worked with Ranger medics in combat scenarios.
Graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Literature & Language.
[2004] The face of the Burberry men's fashion campaign.
Is good friends with Sienna Miller and Ewan McGregor.
Has a younger brother, Jack, and a younger sister, Kate, who both live in France.
Arrived at St. Peter's College, Oxford University in 1994 along with friends Paul Curran and Alexander Fiske-Harrison.
During his early years after his move to London, he found odd jobs as a waiter and bartender before finding a break in British TV costumers in the late 90's.
Was educated at Winchester College, England.
[February 2009] Engaged to Claire Danes. They met on the set of Evening (2007).
Briefly lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a child where his father was working at the time.
[September 2009] Married Claire Danes in France.
[July 2012] Hugh and his wife, Claire Danes, are expecting their first child.
[December 2012] First child, a boy named Cyrus Michael Christopher Dancy, was born on December 17, 2012.
He is of English, and a small amount of Welsh and Scottish descent.
He auditioned to play Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising (2007) and later played Lecter's nemesis Will Graham on Hannibal (2013).
Hannibal: Antipasto (2015) is the only episode of Hannibal (2013) in which he does not appear.
Is very good friends with his Hannibal (2013) co-star Mads Mikkelsen since the pair starred together in the film King Arthur (2004).
Is an avid collector of fake hands. His fascination started after having seen a set of wooden hands on a film set.
His most embarrassing moment at an audition was having an American producer throw an ashtray at him to demonstrate the supposed "poor" reflexes of British actors. Hugh caught the ashtray, but his chest caught the cigarettes.
Stumbled into acting at age 13 after being sent to the school theater as punishment for misbehaving at school.
Was voted "Prettiest Boy" and "Prettiest Girl" in college.
Both Hugh and his wife, Claire Danes, have played characters with Asperger's syndrome: Hugh in Adam (2009) and Claire in Temple Grandin (2010).
His all-time favorite TV show is The Wire (2002).
Has singing skills.
Was considered for the role of Batman in Batman Begins (2005), which went to Christian Bale.

Personal Quotes (68)

Acting is not very good for relationships - but very good for when they are over.
My dad is an academic but there was never any question of me following on that route. I'm thick.
There's no one actor in particular that I want to model my career after, except for the people who have been able to keep their career varied and who choose things that interest them. That opportunity is all I really want.
[on being sent to the school theater as a punishment] It is true, I was at boarding school and had been misbehaving and I was sent to study drama, to the theater at my school. I was sent under duress and never left, I loved it. To begin with I was just helping out with the sets, painting the walls, nailing things into the floor and doing odd jobs. I was sent there to keep out of trouble, but I never thought about acting before that at all. Then I discovered I liked the people doing drama far more than most of the other people at my school. I spent so much time there that eventually someone asked me to be in a play, it had nothing whatsoever to do with my acting ability. I found out that I loved acting and I am very glad it happened.
[2011] [A character's sexuality isn't] a factor in whether I'll do a role or not. If something like ["The Pride" (play)] comes up and it's a great character, I'll want to do it. Basically, I'll ask myself, what are the reasons I shouldn't do this? And when you look around and you realize you can't really find any, then you have to do it. {He pauses and grins} Or when the only reasons are I'm having a nice time and I'd like to just sit around.
[on his shopping temptations] Mine are books. I will go into a book shop... that's the only shop I really like to browse in to kill time and will come away with too many.
Chemistry is essentially the result of good writing and good acting. Obviously, it's easier to act with somebody you respond to and get on with and if you like the way they think. But I've acted with people I didn't particularly get along with. And nonetheless, I've produced perfectly good chemistry on screen. And I know there are plenty of examples of people working together and falling madly in love and producing complete rubbish.
There's a tipping point where three or four guys or women are in a particularly visible series at one moment, and it's like, 'Oh, my God, the Brits are invading,' but we've always been around. You can hypothesize as to why people hire us or why they don't, but I haven't heard of any theory that holds water.
I don't have any aspirations to be a leading man in the Hollywood sense. You have to be very specifically ambitious to be bankable in that way; to have a studio sign off on you, which is an entirely different thing from being good. You have to do the type of work to signal to people in Hollywood that you want to be "that guy" and I've realized I just don't want to be "that guy". {Although he wouldn't turn down a lucrative superhero franchise} I love those films!
[2012] Actually I'm not someone who sits around being content. I like a bit of anxiety in my life. I don't like feeling complacent and I'm capable of being a bit doom-laden. Living in this moment in America, it's hard not to feel like you are potentially at the edge of a complete precipice. I suppose part of my brain is vulnerable to apocalyptic thinking: 'Oh God, climate change, economic collapse, class warfare', but then the other 99 per cent of the time I'm just going about my business and I don't see the world that way at all. I think I'm as contented as I could be given who I am.
[2012] [on being asked if he would like to go behind the camera] I've never had the urge. There's a strange expectation now that you should, but choosing to produce or direct doesn't suddenly give you control of your career. I could sit there and write a great script but it doesn't mean anybody's going to make it. And I don't need to be stinking rich.
I don't think I'm any more insecure than the next person. I try not to let myself become too neurotic. To some extent, paranoia in this industry is just a realistic outlook, it comes with the territory, but I try not to drive myself totally insane.
[on his greatest fears] Snakes, destitution.
My parents have always supported me, so I was never waiting in fear for the day when they would call up and order me to get a proper job.
[2007] [on being compared to a young Leonardo DiCaprio by Beyond the Gates (2005) director Michael Caton-Jones] I'll take that! Well, I mean, at least he knows what he's talking about, and he's a great director, so if he says something like that, then thank you very much. Leo's a brilliant actor, so it's very flattering, but you can't really take these comparisons too seriously. I'm still trying to figure out what I can do well and what I can't.
[2007] [on being labeled as "the new Hugh Grant/Colin Firth"] You just keep plugging away, and the speciousness of that kind of analysis reveals itself. There's only so many New people you can be before people give up.
[2013] Like everybody else I got so hooked on the first series of Homeland (2011). So I did say to Claire 'Look, stop telling me about it'. Terrible policy for a marriage... 'Please don't tell me what you did today' is not a good line... so we gave up on that. Now I read the scripts as they come out.
[2013] [on wife Claire Danes] She tries to be very honest, without artifice, in what she does. And it is hard to do that and be interesting and create something big. I know from experience, and watching her now on set, that she is fantastic to work with, generous without trying to be generous.
[2017] [on watching his own work] You never stop being a little self-conscious. Or at least I don't. And I don't do it religiously; sometimes the moment passes - I think there's still some episodes of Hannibal (2013) I haven't watched because you were there. But most of Hannibal and The Path (2016), I really wanted to watch because in each case there are such specific tones that you're going for, and I felt like the opportunity for failure was quite high because with anything that's aiming for a particular pitch, you can step off that fine line quite easily in any direction.
The doubting part of me assumed that I would spend my career playing posh characters in costume dramas. At least one casting director told me bluntly that that's what I'd be doing, so get used to it.
[on being asked about his thoughts on the persistence of the Hollywood Closet] It still seems to overwhelm people's sense of the rest of your identity. If an actor is gay, then they are a "gay actor". It's not like being a blond actor or a very short actor - those things can be dealt with in people's imaginations. And there is this strange cultural obsession, this eagerness to unmask people.
[on dealing with rumors as an actor] You could spend your whole life just trying to clear up other people's perceptions of you, but it would be a great big waste of time. I just can't bring myself to care very much. It's a kind of self-preservation: you cannot hope to control what other people think or say about you.
There are so many scripts where they don't allow the male lead any kind of flaw, which renders it very boring.
[2016] [on Hannibal (2013) passionate fan base] I'm being glib because 99% of the time really, the response - I mean just in terms of people's enthusiasm, but also in terms of the actual work that people made - the art that people made in their own creative response to the show, was really incredible. Not something I've ever experienced before. And I found it to be thrilling and very, very rewarding. And I think we were all very cognizant of that all the way through. You know, you always worry a little bit when you see somebody that's got a tattoo of something you're involved in - you think, 'Really? Really?' [laughs]. But look, it will always be dear and important to me so I'm glad that it was shared.
I used to reassure myself by counting up the money I could have made from movies I turned down that I knew I shouldn't have done, sort of imagining some alternative universe version of myself who was richer but less satisfied.
[2007] There was never any pressure [to get a "proper" job] and I was always into the arts. I went to boarding school and, at 13, I was sent to theatre studies as a punishment for smoking and drinking. That formed my decision to become an actor. But I did go to uni first.
[on the fact that English actors are regarded as better at doing American accents than vice versa] Well, I have certainly heard some bad American accents from British actors and some great English accents from American actors, so I don't really think that's true. That said, I think because a lot of the movies and TV that we're exposed to in England are American, we grow up with that noise in our heads, but you could approach that lazily as well. There is a sort of relaxing of the mouth that results in a strange pseudo-American, pseudo East-Anglican drawl. That said, I do think it's easier going in the other direction (moving from an English accent to an American accent). It's a lot easier to soften up your consonants than tighten them. There's also less tonal range. You tend to be... not monotonous, but more like a straight line.
[2016] I've done my fair share of comedies. But you ride the waves of things that are coming to you as long as they're interesting. It's not like, 'At last I'm being taken seriously!' - I don't have that feeling. It's just, 'Oh, you think I can do that? I'll try that.' I've got the usual roster of anxieties and insecurities, but it's not like I have to be desperately taken seriously.
[on his main insecurity as an actor] It's like a fear that I have not done enough, not thought hard enough about something to do justice to it, and when the thing is complete it will be apparent. I used to feel more that way - that's a quintessential actor's feeling - but I still feel the challenge of wanting to do justice to richly thought-out material.
[2014] [on some channels' refusal to air Hannibal (2013) due to the show's graphic violence] You know, it's a free world. And in some ways it's like a badge of honor. I actually think that the one thing we don't do is desensitize violence. And actually another thing - we don't casually or predominantly inflict violence, in particular sexual violence, on women. Our show is equal opportunity. So, sure, don't watch. But for me, there are other culprits more worthy of censure.
[2014] [on his Hannibal (2013) co-star Mads Mikkelsen] I worked with Mads first about 10 years ago in King Arthur (2004) which was a very different kettle of fish, mostly spent on horses killing people painted blue. We were in Dublin for 6 months and my memory is patchy, but the one thing I definitely took away was that I'd want to work with him again with fewer horses and more acting. I've followed his career since and for me, he's one of the best screen actors working anywhere. So the chance to sit opposite him and knock Bryan's [Fuller] dialogue back and forth was incredible. He came onto the show after me and I was basically checking my emails every five minutes hoping it would work out.
[2016] [on something he wouldn't change about himself] My uncertainty, probably. I was working on a job quite a few years ago now and suddenly was quite daunted - it was something I'd wanted for a long time and found myself there, looked around the other cast members, and they were all pretty substantial people - I was speaking to my father and running through that litany of anxiety, and he said basically, 'Isn't that exactly what you want?' And clouds parted in a way: 'Yes, I want that kind of challenge.'
[on his favorite motto] "There is a time and a place for everything."
[2015] [on Hannibal (2013) cancellation and the impact the show had on him] It's meant an enormous amount to me - on every level. It's been challenging, and an incredible collaboration, because of Bryan's [Fuller] generosity in that respect - and Mads [Mikkelsen], who I love, is a wonderful actor and an incredible partner in that respect. It feels very bittersweet - we don't know what the future of the show is, or if there is a future for the show, but I don't expect to have an experience of this nature for a long time, if ever again. That's no bad thing, it's just because it's been so profound.
[2014] I'm not drawn intrinsically to dark material at all. I've done my fair share of light comedies, which I also love. I think there's a good example of every kind of story: horror, comedy, farce - you name it, and basically I want to be in all of them - the good ones. How you assess that, that's a little bit more complicated. But I mean - it gets to the point you want to have a break, maybe from murdering people - but I've got there yet.
I'm not the kind of actor that goes home and has to wrestle with my demons if I've been playing a troubled guy during the day.
I have absolutely no passion for modeling. Christopher [Bailey, the creative director of Burberry] is one of my dear friends, and I don't want to be casually dismissive of the entire industry at all. That whole experience confronted my expectations of fashion a little bit. I was surrounded by people - Mario Testino, Kate Moss - who were at the top of their profession, and who I found to be charming and genuinely creative. Not superficial. Not bitchy. Not any of those easy stereotypes. But the actual act of sitting in front of a camera, while fun for a day, would not sustain me.
I could bore you to tears about a lot of fairly arcane subjects, like the reign of Elizabeth I, or the history of Rwanda, or the day-to-day conditions of an officer in the First World War. But you have to be careful. Sometimes you can overestimate how much people really care.
I'm not "the grass is greener", but if I'm doing one thing, I'll always fantasize about doing the opposite. So if I'm in a play, I'll dream about doing a film. That sort of thing. If I'm in London, I'll wish I could go to New York. If I'm anywhere else in the world, I'll wish I was in London.
There are people who are obsessive about theater, any kind of theater, and God love them. They'll come five, ten times if the play is successful, and then will address what even to you, who has done the play a hundred times, seems like the most obscure, astonishingly irrelevant point, and want to hammer it out in the street.
When you're starting out as an actor, 50 percent of it is the way you present yourself.
[on his first TV role in Trial & Retribution (1997)] {The pressure was on to learn a lot, and fast} I couldn't get my head round all the logistics of filming, the way they filled the courtroom with smoke and flapped it around. I thought I'd missed a bit in the script where the courtroom went on fire. {He also had to curb his natural inquisitiveness} It took me a while to accept that it wasn't my job or business to know about the lighting, and that I should stop suggesting camera angles. Someone gave me a pat on the head and told to me to carry on pretending for a living.
[on contrived plot mechanisms steering the romantic comedy genre in general] In modern romantic comedies, it always comes down to blatant rudeness or radical misunderstandings. In the older romantic comedies, it's more this constant slight rudeness and patronizing quality without any sense of real malice beneath it.
[2012] I think in the last couple of years the gap between independent and studio films has widened. Finding the $20 to $30 million films seems harder and harder. It's either be in a comic book movie or take a punt on a much smaller budget.
[on how he occupies his time during breaks on set] I find that a book is helpful in that respect - a good, long, gripping book, but something that doesn't rip you out of the world you're trying to construct.
Becoming an actor [is the bravest thing I've done] because it's a ridiculously insecure profession to go into. I feel very comfortable, but very lucky. I think any time that you imagine that it's plain sailing for hereon in, then you're kidding yourself.
[on his favorite childhood cartoons] Wacky Races, Looney Tunes, Road Runner and The Simpsons. I cried at the third Toy Story film.
I think a good villain has to be likeable and you've got to be rooting for him just a little bit. You know the guy who wants to blow up the world, we've seen him a thousand times - but if he starts to make it seem like a good idea, then he's a good villain.
[2016] [about The Path (2016)] Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about [cults]. I don't think of myself as a joiner, although I think a lot of us have the capacity to fall head-long into the craziest beliefs, and none of us are immune to that. I'm not saying it will happen to all of us, but any of us have something inside of us that's a place of vulnerability. If the right person at the right moment reaches out and touches you, you can go so far down the line before you even know where you are. I really believe that. We also don't know what our capacity for doing awful things is, or turning a blind eye to terrible things. We'd like to think we'd be the hero, but most of us would not be the hero. But I do understand the desire to have a community, even if it's just in your close friends. It doesn't have to be a structure, but people who you can turn to, with all your flaws, and say, 'I fucked up. Don't judge me.'
[2016] I was [hesitant about doing another TV show after Hannibal (2013)]. The fact that [The Path (2016)] is so different was definitely a part of the appeal, although that only goes so far. If you're just looking for an extreme alternative, that's not going to work out so well. But yeah, I was hesitant and I probably scrutinized it more carefully, as a result, looking for the cracks and the flaws. And then, the more I dug into it and thought about it, and particularly after I had spoken to Jessica Goldberg who is the showrunner, and (executive producer) Jason Katims, I realized that with anything interesting, there's a really good version of it and there's a bad version of it. Anything that exists in an area of ambiguity that's going to be fun to do, there's a bad version that doesn't achieve the subtlety that you're hoping for. In this case, if you just tried to go straight for the charisma or the manipulativeness with Cal, that would be quite boring. I felt like they were coming at the whole thing from the point of view of, what are these beliefs, and then taking those beliefs seriously. I thought, 'These people clearly want to make the best version of this show.' After that, I signed on.
[2013] [on signing on to Hannibal (2013)] It was a big deal for me to sit down with Bryan [Fuller], having read the first episode, and ask him 'Why would I sign my life away to you?' He's one of life's great enthusiasts and he launched into a description of this whole series. And then he gave me the next series, then the third and fourth - he described about five years of television and he clearly had a vision, which is not always the case.
It took me a good few years to feel that I was in the right profession.
[2013] At this point in my career, I have a fairly good bullshit detector.
So much of [an actor's career] is about being able to sit in a room and make a connection with somebody. And then you get to actually demonstrate whether you can do the job or not. But if you can't do the first thing, you won't get to do the second thing.
[2012] [Fatherhood] is wildly exciting, faintly surreal and sometimes hard to believe. I do occasionally find myself lounging around without much to do and I stop and think to myself, 'Really enjoy this because it won't happen again for a couple of decades.'
[Unless you produce or direct your own projects] the only power that you have as an actor over your career, in some sense, is to say no. The one thing that I think I have tried to be responsible about is actually being picky.
I just really like to take roles that scare me.
[2007] Actually, my favorite pastime is watching the food network. I know [it's tragic]. But it's hypnotizing. It's 24-hour-a-day food porn. I always pretended I was going to learn to cook, but now I realize I just like watching other people doing it. Over here, we've got a couple of shows, you know, the sort with someone like Antony Worrall Thompson being slightly obnoxious, but in America, it's so much bigger. I've watched the food network for like five hours on the trot.
You just aren't afforded the time [during a film shoot] that you get in theater to mine the piece of work and understand what to do with it. In the theater, the prep work is done in rehearsal, but the real work of understanding it comes when suddenly you're doing it every night, beginning to end, nonstop, in front of an audience. Even if you're lucky enough to get rehearsal for a film or TV, you never get the run-through process. So you never get to the point where you really understand the shape that the story should take and how you can serve it in the shape of your performance. You have to try and do that work on your own [for a film], however you do it.
For the 13-year-old me, Pittsburgh was the most multicultural and exotic place I'd ever been. [My father and I] were living next to the kind of Hasidic Jewish area, and there was also a Turkish community. It was just America, you know? It was the melting pot.
I do collect hands. The odder the better. It started on a film set when there was a straight set of wooden hands, which I liberated. So it grew from there. For most people hands would be a ridiculous thing to buy but it is not for me. The weirdest hand I have is a fibre glass big hand that was a symbol for some group.
For me, it does help to jump between TV, film, stage and whatever. I think you exercise slightly differently certain muscles, although at the end of the day, at the very, very heart of it, it's the same deal. You're telling a story and you're finding truth in it and you're trying to keep it interesting.
I had a producer throw an ashtray at me once. It was for a... um, I'm sure it was never made, but it was going to be about Spartans, a TV thing. I was talking back and forth with the director and the producer jumped in. He was obviously very frustrated. I think he just wanted to cast an American. He was like, 'Look, all these American actors are in really good shape and you guys are going to have to be running up and down the beach and things like that in this show and I just need to know that my actors that I cast are gonna be physically coordinated - so, like this!' And he flung an ashtray at me. Weirdly, it split into two pieces in mid-air and I caught both of them. I still wasn't cast [laughs].
[on a film that particularly impacted him as a child] [The first time I went to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)]. It felt like magic. I didn't just feel like I was in a cinema. I felt like I was somehow in the film. I was crying and wailing and smashing my fists on the side of the seats. I have a nasty feeling I really embarrassed myself in front of my school-friend whom my mum had invited along!
As a child, I often used to go and see musicals because my father played the double bass in an orchestra. I remember very clearly seeing one about explorers. Afterwards, I went home and ransacked the house. I eventually found a rucksack and some khaki clothes and marched out to explore the garden.
There's a part of me that wants to look nice and occasionally wants to be snappy, and the other part of me that just wants to wear the same sweater until I die. And I'm in constant conflict between those two sides.
You know how typecasting works: you do one thing and then the doors open and you can just do it again and again.
[on why he's not a red carpet kind of person] I've learned that it's not something I will ever be brilliant at. There are some people you watch who are just past masters at it. They know which side of the face to turn to the camera. They know this or that. There's a skill to it. There's a self-censorship to it. You just have to kind of smile nicely and carry on. I can't do it.

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