David Morrissey

David Morrissey

Born David Mark Morrissey in the Kensington district of Liverpool, England on June 21, 1964, he was the fourth and youngest child of cobbler Joe Morrissey and his wife Joan. Morrissey decided to become an actor after seeing Ken Loach's acclaimed drama "Kes" (1969) on television, and joined the famed Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. The Everyman also helped him to land his first screen role as a troubled teen on "One Summer," a drama series penned by Willy Russell, who had a long association with the theater. Morrissey then studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre. In 1987, he returned to television as a naïve young handyman whose obsession with his employer (Helen Mirren) led him to murder her husband in playwright Terence Rattigan"s "Cause Célèbre (Anglia Television, 1987). He followed this with a role as a spree killer in the BAFTA-nominated TV film "The Widowmaker," which helped cement his tightly-wrapped screen persona. During this period, Morrissey also studied the fundamentals of filmmaking through a youth program that gave him the opportunity to shoot short films on Super 8. The early 1990s found Morrissey working almost exclusively on television, playing authoritative figures on series like "Between the Lines" and in TV-movies like the Iraq War drama "The One That Got Away" (ITV, 1996) for director Paul Greengrass. Morrissey then moved to lead roles, most notably on the ITV series "Finney" (1994) as a jazz musician with underworld connections, and a tax inspector on the brink on "Holding On," which earned him a Royal Television Society Programme Award nomination for Best Male Actor. His breakthrough feature film was "Hilary and Jackie" (1998), about classical musician siblings Hilary and Jacqueline du Prè (Rachel Griffiths and Emily Watson, respectively) and Morrissey as Hilary's husband, orchestral conductor Christopher Finzi. The success of the picture led to more high-profile film roles, including "Some Voices" (2000) as the brother of schizophrenic Daniel Craig, and as a Labour MP connected to a series of murders on "State of Play," which earned him the British Television Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.That same year, he played U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown in "The Deal," Stephen Frears' drama about alleged political maneuvering between Brown and Tony Blair, which captured the Royal Television Society's top male acting award. Morrissey then switched gears for the musical dramedy series "Blackpool," which cast him against type as a small-time businessman who hoped to turn his fortune around by switching his arcade into a Las Vegas-styled casino. Though only a modest ratings hit, the series reaped both British Academy Television and Golden Globe Awards, while Morrissey himself was named the second favorite actor of 2004 in a BBC poll. He later reprised the role on the 2006 sequel, "Viva Blackpool" (BBC One). Morrissey also made his first professional films as a director during this period, shooting several short films before earning a BAFTA nomination for "Sweet Revenge" (2001), a two-part television feature for the BBC. Three years later, he directed the highly-rated "Passer By" (BBC One, 2004) about a man who refused to prevent a woman's assault.The high-profile afforded by "The Deal" and "Blackpool" led to his first lead in an American feature, "Basic Instinct 2" (2006). However, the film was a failure, not only at the box office, but also for Morrissey himself, who was singled out with savagely negative reviews. The bad press spurred him to briefly consider dropping out of acting, but he reconsidered and was soon cast in another stateside picture, the supernatural thriller "The Reaping" (2007) with Hilary Swank. Unfortunately, the picture proved to be another financial disaster, but Morrissey rebounded with a 2008 TV adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" (BBC One) with Janet McTeer and Dominic Cooper.After making his debut as a feature film director with "Don't Worry About Me" (2007), he tackled a slew of top quality British TV projects, including "The Next Doctor," the 2008 Christmas special episode of "Doctor Who" (BBC One, 1963-1989, 2005-), which cast him as a human who believed himself to be the Doctor after being manipulated by alien technology. His critically-praised performance led to widespread speculation that Morrissey would take over the role after David Tennant's departure from the series in 2010. He then tackled the difficult role of a corrupt police detective seeking redemption in "Red Riding" before fulfilling mystery writer Mark Billingham's desire to have him play his fictional hero, Detective Tom Thorne, in the six-episode series "Thorne," for which he also served as executive producer. In 2012, he was cast as The Governor, the power-mad leader of a Southern settlement who made life miserable for the band of survivors in the third season of "The Walking Dead." After the character's arc ended on that series, Morrissey joined the cast of the Halle Berry-starring science fiction thriller "Extant" (CBS 2014-15). By Paul Gaita