Date of Birth: August 25, 1957
Simon McBurney is a stage, television and film actor who has appeared in numerous high-profile projects throughout his over 20-year film career, including The Manchurian Candidate, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, The Borgias, and Allied. He is also known for founding the renowned Théâtre de Complicité in London.
Simon Montagu McBurney was born in Cambridge, England to Charles, an American archaeologist, and Anne Francis, a British secretary. While growing up in Cambridge, Simon often found himself on the sharp end of authority. "Anything that was illegal became immediately interesting to me. I spent the majority of time at school trying to break the rules," the actor told The Guardian in 2010. "I would climb to the top of buildings; I even burned a building down once – not intentionally, just because I was interested in fire. I remember going through the rule book, ticking off the ones I had broken and looking for the ones I hadn't."
This early rebellion may have translated to the on-stage irreverence and fearlessness for which he is now celebrated. His interest in the dramatic arts began after he graduated with a degree in English literature in 1980 and moved to Paris, where he studied theater at Ecole Jacques Lecoq.
Simon quickly made a name for himself in theater circles, founding the distinguished British theater company Complicite in 1983. The company has continued to showcase an eclectic mix of productions all over the world, including Crocodiles (1992), The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol (1994), Mnemonic (1999), The Elephant Vanishes (2003), A Disappearing Number (2007), and The Master and Margarita (2011). Simon both acts and directs many of Complicite's productions.
While Simon began his acting career in the early '80s, he didn't start appearing on the screen until 1988, with a small guest role in the series Screenplay. With minor roles in various other television series and even quieter roles in film, it took Simon a few years to break out into Hollywood. However, in the mid-'90s, he started gaining steam with roles in such British and American films as Tom & Viv (1994), starring Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson, Being Human (1994), starring Robin Williams, and Mesmer (1994), starring Alan Rickman.
Simon began nabbing bigger roles over the next decade or so, with one of his first leading parts coming in 2000 — the drama Eisenstein. He then starred alongside Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany in the crime drama The Reckoning, followed by supporting roles in the comedy Bright Young Things, the drama remake The Manchurian Candidate (2004) starring Denzel Washington, and the dramedy Friends with Money (2006), starring Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand and Catherine Keener.
In 2006, Simon earned one of his most high-profile film roles to date as Stone in the Oscar-winning biographical drama The Last King of Scotland. This upward momentum continued over the next couple of years, as he landed parts in the fantasy epic The Golden Compass (2007), the period drama The Duchess (2008), and the action drama Body of Lies (2008).
Although he kept securing solid work, it wasn't until 2010 that Simon cemented his place in one of the most popular film franchises of all time — Harry Potter. Voicing the curmudgeonly house elf named Kreacher, Simon "acted" alongside Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The next year he made supporting appearances in the period drama Jane Eyre (2011), the mystery drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), the comedy series Rev. and the Showtime historical drama series The Borgias.
While continuing to act on stage, Simon has also more recently starred opposite Emma Stone and Colin Firth in Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight (2014), the critically acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything (2014), and the Tom Cruise action sequel Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015). His latest projects include the horror sequel The Conjuring 2 (2016), starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, and the World War II drama Allied (2016), starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.
Simon, or "Sir McBurney" as he is often referred to, has received many accolades for his contribution to the arts. On top of a Laurence Olivier Award and a Critics' Choice Theatre Award, he was given the O.B.E. (Officer of the order of the British Empire) by the Queen in 2005 for his services to drama.
Simon met his wife, Cassie Yukawa, on the street after playing a show at the Barbican in 2007. The couple have three children together, and currently reside in London.