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David Suchet Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (23)  | Personal Quotes (40)

Overview (3)

Born in Paddington, London, England, UK
Birth NameDavid Courtney Suchet
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Best known in the United Kingdom and abroad as Agatha Christie's suave Belgian super-sleuth Hercule Poirot in scores of late 1980s and '90s mini-movies, London-born actor David Suchet's early interest in the theater led to his membership with the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain in the 1960s following graduation from high school. He then studied for three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and, after a significant route in repertory work, became a company member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973 where he was also evolved as one of its dominant players by decade's end.

In the 1970s Suchet also began to come into his own on British television. In classical tradition, his first television movie was A Tale of Two Cities (1980). His first cinema detective has been a Greek inspector in the Disney mystery-comedy Trenchcoat (1983), followed by a range of film roles that express the width of his acting qualities, such as a Middle Eastern terrorist in The Little Drummer Girl (1984), a Russian operative in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), a French hunter in Harry and the Hendersons (1987), a Polish bishop in To Kill a Priest (1988) and Napoleon in in Sabotage! (2000).

His masterful work in television roles also includes portrayals of historical, biblical, entertainment and fictional figures, such as Sigmund Freud in Freud (1984), news reporter William L. Shirer in Murrow (1986), Aaron in Moses (1995), movie mogul Louis B. Mayer in RKO 281 (1999), Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII (2003)), vampire nemesis Van Helsing in Dracula (2006) and Robert Maxwell in Maxwell (2007).

Widely regarded as the one of greatest stage and screen actors both in his native Great Britain and internationally, David Suchet always offers staggering work full of generously euphoric delight, with a theatre course that includes memorable stunning incarnations such as the Shakespearean ones of Iago in "Othello", Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet", Caliban in "The Tempest" and "Timon of Athens", as well as in roles such as George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1996 and, from 1998 to 2001, as composer Salieri in "Amadeus", a mesmerizing performance for which he received a Tony nomination after its Broadway presentation. Long wed to former actress Sheila Ferris, the couple has a son and daughter. His older brother is BBC newscaster-turned-journalist John Suchet.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Sheila Ferris (June 1976 - present) ( 2 children)

Trivia (23)

He is the younger brother of ITN newscaster John Suchet.
He has two children with Sheila Ferris: Robert Suchet and Katherine Suchet.
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2002 Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honors List for his services to drama.
He is perhaps best known for his brilliant television performances as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. He also appeared in the Agatha Christie television movie Thirteen at Dinner (1985) as Inspector Japp.
He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1999 (1998 season) for Best Actor for his performance in "Amadeus".
He was nominated for a 1997 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Play of 1996 for his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
He was awarded the 1996 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre) for Best Actor for his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
He was nominated for Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for portraying Antonio Salieri in a revival of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus.".
He attended the National Youth Theatre in the 1960s.
His last name is pronounced 'Su-shay'.
Received a honorary Doctorate from the Univeristy of Chichester (PHD in Theatre) - October 2008.
On the TV special, David Suchet on the Orient Express (2010), Mr. Suchet tells us that one of his Great-Grandfathers was from Lithuania.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2011 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to drama.
Enjoys music, photography and boating around England.
Renowned for extensively researching the personality and character of each role he plays. To prepare for the role of "Hercule Poirot" on Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989), Suchet has carefully read every description Agatha Christie ever wrote about the character, and adopted a soft French accent.
Uncle of Damian Suchet.
Notting Hill, London, England [December 2010]
Vice President of The Agatha Christie Society with Joan Hickson until her death.
David's father's family were Lithuanian Jewish immigrants to South Africa. David's maternal grandfather, Fleet Street photographer James Jarché, was of Russian Jewish descent (from a family that had passed through France before settling in England). David's maternal grandmother, Elsie Gladys Jezzard, was of English ancestry, and was the daughter of Walter Jezzard and Martha Finch.
Always stayed in character as Hercule Poirot when portraying him, even when the cameras weren't rolling.
As part of his Shakespearean experience in the theatre, he played the role of Shylock in the late '80s. Being of Jewish descent, he was criticized for agreeing to play a character who is commonly perceived as an anti-Semitic stereotype.
He was nominated for a 2000 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Actor in a Play in "Amadeus" on Broadway in New York City.
He was awarded the 1999 Back Stage Garland Award for Outstanding Performance for "Amadeus" at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Personal Quotes (40)

People ask me if I tried to make my Poirot popular. I didn't. All I did was to start to read Agatha Christie's novels. I wanted to be the Poirot that she would be proud of. So out went the funny costume designs and the huge moustaches. And in went everything that she had written. The morning suits. The little gifts of vases of flowers. The perfect moustache.
When I was eighteen and not sure whether I wanted to be an actor, I realized that a playwright has no voice without an actor. That's my reason for acting: to get that character as right as possible for my writer. And I have never changed my philosophy.
I'm character. People don't know me as David Suchet, they know me by the characters I've played. A personality player is always himself: Cary Grant is always Cary Grant. But the only character Ive been in that situation was Poirot. And there's nobody more different from me. I was in disguise!
I am London born and bred and very proud of it. I blow London's trumpet wherever I go. I think it is the greatest city in the world and, having played in most other cities, I know that it is the greatest city in the world for theatre. There are more venues per square mile here than anywhere else.
I find it very hard. Please God it looks easy, but actually Poirot is really tough to play.
The modern style of acting is all in the moment but Poirot isn't like that at all. I get out of the car already in his mindset and as soon as the moustache goes on, that's the trigger because I can't move my top lip as David Suchet any more. I've got a very big laugh, but if I laughed like me I would ping it off!
I appeared as Inspector Japp in Thirteen at Dinner (1985) with Peter Ustinov, which goes down in history as my worst performance! But having watched that and Blott on the Landscape (1985), which increased my profile in a big way, they decided they wanted me as their next Poirot.
I'm far more observant now than I was before - I notice how people dress and if they've changed their hair. He's [Poirot] also taught me to listen. As Agatha Christie says, he will listen to you speak but hear what you mean.
The worst thing I can do as an actor is to say, 'How shall I play this role?' That can lead to misinterpretation because you'll be doing what/want. So what I do on everything is what I did with Agatha Christie. I started reading - with a huge notebook to write down every single character detail that I could find. Not to determine how I was going to play [Poirot], but just to get to know what she was writing, what eccentricities, how he dressed, what was his past. So having got this dossier, then you have to study the personality and use your imagination, using every piece of creativity within oneself to who "I" may be, to become rather than adapt them to be me. I worked on his dress sense, on how he looked, on the padding underneath to give me the shape that Agatha Christie had designed for him - with his head slightly forward, tilted to one side - 'like a blackbird' she describes him. I started to become his protector - when directors wanted to turn him into a comedy, into a two-dimensional character, and I just wanted to be the Poirot that Christie wrote. I didn't want to be just a comedy cardboard cutout.
I'm not an evangelist Christian at all. I can't try to convert anybody. It's not in me to do that. But my faith has given me such an appreciation of people and meaningful relationships, and a world view which I didn't have before. And although I will fail every day, it gives me something to aspire to.
I don't really want people to see me. I'm not into stardom.
When I was 16, I played Macbeth at school and my English teacher said, 'I think you may have acting talent. Try to get into the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and see where you get.' I wouldn't have thought of that at all. I wanted to be a surgeon, but I wasn't a clever man.
I think it's very dangerous, the idea of celebrity - you have to be constantly controversial to maintain the status of celebrity. Reality TV is the death of entertainment - it's just mindless TV but popular because of its voyeuristic nature, and people are very voyeuristic.
Although I'm a very emotional man, I just can't have blind faith; I have to find out for myself.
I've always been short and stocky. So when I got into repertory theatre after graduation, I found myself doing character roles: because of my deep voice, shape and height, I was playing 40-year-old, 50-year-old roles at the age of 23.
I'm never bored, never ever bored. If I've got a day off I'll sit in a café and watch and observe. I'm a great observer.
When I was 16, I made some little 35mm documentaries about the poor in London. I went round Notting Hill, which was a real slum in the 1950s, shooting film.
When I was 18 and not sure whether I wanted to be an actor, I realized that a playwright has no voice without an actor. That's my reason for acting: to get that character as right as possible for my writer. And I have never changed my philosophy.
I'm three-quarters Russian, so I've always felt an outsider. But I don't think you can be in a play with John Of Gaunt's 'This sceptered isle' speech and not feel proud to be British.
I'd love to be remembered as a character actor who brought illumination to roles in wonderful plays and who delivered performances that made people think and rethink those roles.
I was a typical teen growing up in the 1960s, when everybody was into gurus and meditation.
Deep inside, I am desperate to do comedy.
I became fascinated by the fact that people write to give away rather than write to be read. It's the difference between playwrights and novelists.
I suppose I could be accused of taking acting too seriously and losing the fun of it. I do take my work very seriously; I take on the responsibility of it.
That's the thing about film acting and television acting. You just release yourself and do what is true for the moment, and ignore everybody and everything and all the technical razzmatazz that goes on.
I'm really not interested in showing me or playing me. My gift as an actor, given to me, is to be able to become other people.
I'm really into my photography and am trying to catch up with digital generation - I was used to the old 35mm cameras.
The joy of my career is I've been very blessed to be able to be an actor in major films, television, theater, and also British radio. In fact, my dream as an actor when I started out was to be able to work in all the media. Thankfully, that's what I'm being given to do.
Inevitably, every part an actor plays contains some of himself.
I love music, especially classical like Verdi; it's a great way to relax.
I'm 64 years old, and I've been acting now for 42 years. Only recently have I thought to myself, 'Hmmm, it may be interesting to start directing.'
When you're doing characters from famous novels, you have a responsibility as an actor to make it what the writer intended. And then you add and expand from there to create a three-dimensional performance.
This is one of the great charms of Poirot's investigations, for they reveal a world where manners and morals are quite different from today. There are no overt and unnecessary sex scenes, no alcoholic, haunted detectives in Poirot's world. He lives in a simpler, some would say more human, era: a lost England, seen through the admiring eyes of this foreigner, this little Belgian detective.
I would have liked to do more big movies. And the reason I say that is not because I want to be a star, but what I would have liked to have done is reached a different audience with my work.
I also was well aware of Brian Eastman's advice to me before I left for Bryher: 'Don't forget, he may have an accent, but the audience must be able to understand exactly what he's saying.' There was my problem in a nutshell.
As I look across at the camera for the final time, I think back to Poirot's last words to Hastings on Friday. 'Cher ami,' I said softly, as he was leaving Poirot to rest. That phrase meant an enormous amount to me, which is why I repeated it after he had shut the door behind him. But my second 'cher ami' in that scene was for someone other than Hastings. It was for my dear, dear friend Poirot. I was saying goodbye to him as well, and I felt it with all my heart.
I would walk round that beautiful, unspoilt little island, with its population of under a hundred and where there isn't a single tarmac road, thinking about how he would truly sound. Perhaps the quietness of the island helped me do so. 'Everybody thinks he's French,' I said to myself as I walked across the great stones that littered the beach at Rushy Bay, or stomped over the tussocky grass of Heathy Hill, with its famous dwarf pansies. 'The only reason people think Poirot is French is because of his accent,' I muttered. 'But he's Belgian, and I know that French-speaking Belgians don't sound French, not a bit of it.'
Then, towards the end of the meal, Anthony Hicks leant across the table towards me and looked me straight in the eye. 'I want you to remember', he said, a touch fiercely, 'that we, the audience, can and will smile with Poirot.' Then he paused. 'But we must never, ever, laugh at him.' There was another pause. 'And I am most certainly not joking.' I gulped, before Rosalind said, equally forcefully, 'And that is why we want you to play him.
To help me, I managed to get hold of a set of Belgian Walloon and French radio recordings from the BBC. Poirot came from Liège in Belgium and would have spoken Belgian French, the language of 30 per cent of the country's population, rather than Walloon, which is very much closer to the ordinary French language. To these I added recordings of English-language stations broadcasting from Belgium, as well as English-language programs from Paris. My principal concern was to give my Poirot a voice that would ring true, and which would also be the voice of the man I heard in my head when I read his stories. I listened for hours, and then gradually started mixing Walloon Belgian with French, while at the same time slowly relocating the sound of his voice in my body, moving it from my chest to my head, making it sound a little more high-pitched, and yes, a little more fastidious. After several weeks, I finally began to believe that I'd captured it: this was what Poirot would have sounded like if I'd met him in the flesh. This was how he would have spoken to me - with that characteristic little bow as we shook hands, and that little nod of the head to the left as he removed his perfectly brushed grey Homburg hat. The more I heard his voice in my head, and added to my own list of his personal characteristics, the more determined I became never to compromise in my portrayal of Poirot.
I've always said, with our liberal society, is some ways we're limiting ourselves in art. That's why people don't like doing The Merchant of Venice anymore.

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