David Thewlis: to celebrate the Blackpool actor’s birthday we explore his life story so far

Today (March 20), Blackpool born actor David Thewlis celebrated his 61st birthday so we thought it would be a great opportunity to look back on his life so far…
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David was born in Blackpool in 1963 to Maureen (née Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler who owned a wallpaper and toy shop. He was the second of three children and the family lived above their shop throughout David's childhood.

He attended Highfield High School in Blackpool's Marton area, during which time he was in a band called QED followed by another called Door 66.

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It was Door 66 which brought David to London originally however he changed his course from music to acting plans as he then enrolled in the Guildhall School of Drama, graduating in 1984.

Career beginnings

When David tried to register with the actors' union, he discovered his birth name ‘David Wheeler’ was already being used by someone else, which is why his stage name is his mother’s maiden name. 

He began with stage roles, before appearing in well known TV shows such Up the Elephant and Round the Castle and Only Fools and Horses.

His first full length film was 1987’s Little Doritt which also starred Derek Jacobi, Alec Guinness and Miriam Margolyes.

Top: David Thewlis aged 30. Bottom left: at a Harry Potter event in 2011. Right: at a premier for The Artful Dodger in 2023. Credit: GettyTop: David Thewlis aged 30. Bottom left: at a Harry Potter event in 2011. Right: at a premier for The Artful Dodger in 2023. Credit: Getty
Top: David Thewlis aged 30. Bottom left: at a Harry Potter event in 2011. Right: at a premier for The Artful Dodger in 2023. Credit: Getty

His career takes off 

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Throughout the nineties, David appeared in a variety of TV shows and films, most notably Black Beauty, Total Eclipse, James and the Giant Peach, The Big Lebowski and Seven Days in Tibet- which earned him a ban from China!

In 2004, his role as Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban brought David to an even wider public attention and he went on to reprise his role in the four later sequels.

In between the Harry Potter films, David had roles in The Omen and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas whilst notable films afterwards include War Horse, The Theory of Everything and Wonder Woman.

He also had voice roles in the popular American sitcoms Big Mouth (2018 to present) and Human Resources (2022-2023).

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Most recently, in 2022 he starred in the film Enola Holmes 2 and the TV show Sandman alongside fellow Blackpool local Jenna Coleman, then in 2023 he starred as Fagan in the Disney Plus series The Artful Dodger.

Personal life

Davidwas married to Welsh director and actress Sara Sugarman (best known for directing Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen starring Lindsay Lohan) from 1992 until 1994 , after which he had a three year relationship with the English actress Kate Hardie (Mona Lisa, National Treasure) for three years.

He was in a relationship with the English actress Anna Friel (Brookside, Pushing Daisies, Marcella) from 2001 until late 2010 and the pair welcomed a daughter, Gracie, on July 9 2005.

Since 2016, David has been married to French designer and artist Hermine Poitou and they currently live in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

What’s next for David?

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This week, the first look trailer for a new upcoming Netflix show starring David was released. Called ‘Kaos’, it promises to offer a new take on Greek mythology and as well as David (who plays Hades), the show also starring Jeff Goldblum as Zeus,Janet McTeer as Hera, and Cliff Curtis as Poseidon.

Last month it was announced that David will be the leading star in a new CW Network series called 'Sherlock & Daughter', a release date for which is not yet known.

This year he will also star in a new film called Littlemouth alongside Josh Hutcherson and Dennis Quaid.

David is then due to play a new Na’vi called Peylak in both Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 set to be released in 2025 and 2029 respectively.

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