David Mark Morrissey (born 21 June 1964) is an English actor and film director. Born in Liverpool, Morrissey grew up in the Kensington and Knotty Ash areas of the city, and learned to act at the city's Everyman Youth Theatre. At the age of 18, he was cast in the television series One Summer (1983), which won him recognition throughout the country. After making One Summer, Morrissey attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, then acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre for four years.
Throughout the 1990s, he often portrayed policemen and soldiers, though he took other defining roles such as Bradley Headstone in Our Mutual Friend (1998) and Christopher Finzi in Hilary and Jackie (1998). More film parts followed, including roles in Some Voices (2000) and Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001), before he played the critically acclaimed roles of Stephen Collins in State of Play (2003) and Gordon Brown in The Deal (2003). The former earned him a Best Actor nomination at the British Academy Television Awards and the latter won him a Best Actor award from the Royal Television Society. In the years following those films, he has had leading roles in Sense and Sensibility (2008), Red Riding (2009), Nowhere Boy (2009) and Centurion (2010), and produced and starred in the crime drama Thorne (2010). He returned to the stage in 2008 for a run of Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House and played the title role in the Liverpool Everyman's production of Macbeth in 2011. The following year, he signed on for the role of The Governor in the third season of the AMC television series The Walking Dead.
As a director, David Morrissey has helmed short films and the television dramas Sweet Revenge (2001) and Passer By (2004). His feature debut, Don't Worry About Me, premiered at the 2009 London Film Festival and was broadcast on BBC television in March 2010. The British Film Institute describes Morrissey as being considered "one of the most versatile British actors of his generation", and he is noted for his meticulous preparation for and research into the roles he plays.
David Morrissey was born in Liverpool, the son of Joe, a cobbler, and Joan, who worked for Littlewoods. He was their fourth child, following brothers Tony and Paul, and sister Karen Lane. The family lived at 45 Seldon Street, in the Kensington district of Liverpool. For National Museums Liverpool's Eight Hundred Lives project, Morrissey wrote that the house had been in his family since around the turn of the 20th century. His grandmother had been married there and his mother was born there. In 1971, the family moved to a larger, modern house on the new estates at Knotty Ash, and Seldon Street was later demolished.
As a child, Morrissey was greatly interested in film, television, and Gene Kelly musicals. After seeing a broadcast of Kes on television, he decided to become an actor. At his primary school, St Margaret Mary's School, he was encouraged by a teacher named Miss Keller, who cast him as the Scarecrow in a school production adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when he was 11 years old. Keller left the school soon after, leaving Morrissey without encouragement. His secondary school, De La Salle School, had no drama classes and was the sort of place where Morrissey thought the fear of bullying dissuaded pupils from participating in lessons. On the advice of a cousin, Morrissey joined the Everyman Theatre's youth theatre. For the first couple of weeks, he was quite shy and did not join in the workshops. When he eventually participated, he appeared in the youth theatre's production of Fighting Chance, a play about the riots in Liverpool. He went to the theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
By the age of 14, Morrissey was one of two youth theatre members who sat on the board of the Everyman Theatre. Ian Hart, with whom he had been friends since the age of five, was one of his contemporaries, as were Mark and Stephen McGann and Cathy Tyson. Morrissey became friends with the McGann brothers, who introduced him to their brother Paul when Paul was on a break from studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). When Morrissey was 15 years old, his father developed a terminal blood disorder. He was ill for some time and eventually died of a haemorrhage at the age of 54 in the family home. After leaving school at the age of 16, Morrissey joined a Wolverhampton theatre company, where he worked on sets and costumes.
In 1982, Morrissey auditioned for One Summer, a television series by Willy Russell for Yorkshire Television and Channel 4 about two Liverpool boys who run away to Wales one summer. Russell had been attached to the Everyman for many years, and Morrissey had seen him while he was working behind the bar downstairs from the theatre, though the two had never been introduced. Morrissey went to at least eight auditions, and in one read for the part of Icky opposite Paul McGann, who was reading for Billy. McGann, five years older than Morrissey, believed that he was too old to be playing the part of 16-year-old Billy, and stepped back from the production, leaving the role to go to Morrissey. Spencer Leigh got the part of Icky and Ian Hart played the supporting role of Rabbit. Russell had a professional disagreement with the director Gordon Flemyng and producer Keith Richardson over the casting of 18-year-old Morrissey and Leigh; he believed that the sympathy of 16-year-olds running away was lost by casting older actors. Russell subsequently had his name removed from the credits of the original broadcast. After filming One Summer for five months, Morrissey went travelling in Kenya with his cousins. When he returned to Britain, One Summer was being broadcast, and he dealt with the new experience of being recognised in public.
Morrissey had planned to study at RADA in London, but his colleagues at the Everyman encouraged him not to as he already had his Equity card. His One Summer co-star James Hazeldine convinced him otherwise, and he went to London for a year. He became homesick while there and did not enjoy the way RADA was turning him into a "bland actor". On a visit back to Liverpool he told Paul McGann's mother that he was considering leaving the college. Back in London, McGann met with him and reassured him that he had been through the same homesickness phase when he first went to RADA. Morrissey continued his studies at RADA and graduated on 1 December 1985.
After a year at RADA, Morrissey went back to Liverpool to perform in WCPC at the Liverpool Playhouse. He then did Le Cid and Twelfth Night with Cheek by Jowl, and spent two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), principally with director Deborah Warner for whom he played the Bastard in King John in 1988. He saw the role as a learning opportunity, as he had often wondered at RADA if he would ever have the chance to act in classical theatre. His performance has been described as "the most contentious characterisation of the production"; he received negative critical reaction from Daily Telegraph and Independent critics, but a positive opinion from the Financial Times. In The Guardian, Nicholas de Jongh wrote, "The Bastard, who has the most complex syntax in early Shakespeare, half defeats David Morrissey. His slurred, sometimes unintelligible diction helps to deflate the Bastard, but his bawling rhetoric strikes as mere sham rather than fierce plain speaking." Morrissey also spent time with the National, where he played the title role in Peer Gynt (Declan Donnellan, 1990). Michael Billington praised the unkempt energy of his performance. During this time, he lived on the housing estate in White City, where he and his flatmates were the frequent victims of burglars.
Morrissey's second television role came in 1987 when he played the 18-year old chauffeur George Bowman, whose obsession with his employer and lover Alma Rattenbury (Helen Mirren) leads him to murder her husband, in an Anglia Television adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play Cause Célèbre. At the end of the 1980s, Morrissey met director John Madden for the first time. Madden was looking for an actor who could portray an ordinary man who turns out to be a mass murderer, in his film The Widowmaker (1990). He knew Morrissey was right for the part in his first audition. The next year, Morrissey appeared as Theseus in an episode of The Storyteller directed by Madden ("Theseus and the Minotaur", 1991), and as Little John in Robin Hood (John Irvin, 1991). Robin Hood's cinema release clashed with that of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Reynolds, 1991). The latter, starring Kevin Costner in the title role, was a box office hit and left the Irvin version forgotten. Morrissey was out of work in film and television for eight months after it was released. Eventually, he was cast in a leading role as a CID officer in the BBC television drama Clubland (Laura Sims, 1991). He almost lost the role a week into rehearsals when his appendix ruptured. In order to keep the part, and a flat in Crouch End he had just bought, Morrissey performed while still in stitches.
At this early stage in his career, he tried to avoid being typecast as policemen and soldiers on television, but his role in The Widowmaker lead to him being offered and taking many obsessive character roles; he played police officers in Black and Blue, Framed, Between the Lines and Out of the Blue, and soldier Andy McNab in The One That Got Away (Paul Greengrass, 1996). Morrissey first met screenwriter Peter Bowker when he played Detective Sergeant Jim Llewyn in the second series of Bowker's Out of the Blue. In 1994, he played customs officer Gerry Birch in the first series of The Knock, and Stephen Finney in the six-part ITV series Finney. In Finney, Morrissey assumed the role originated by Sting in Stormy Monday (Mike Figgis, 1988). He was the first choice for the part and had to learn to play the double bass.
As the 1990s moved on, Morrissey began to assert himself as a leading actor. He made his first appearance in a Tony Marchant drama playing Michael Ride in Into the Fire (1996), and the following year played the lead role of Shaun Southerns in Marchant's BBC series Holding On (Adrian Shergold, 1997). Southerns, a crooked tax inspector, was the first of many "men in turmoil" roles for Morrissey, and it earned him a nomination for the Royal Television Society (RTS) Programme Award for Best Male Actor the next year. In 1998, he appeared in Our Mutual Friend alongside Paul McGann. As he was a fan of the book, Morrissey asked director Julian Farino if he could play Eugene Wrayburn, but the role went to McGann. Farino had Morrissey in mind to play schoolmaster Bradley Headstone, a part Morrissey was reluctant to take until he read the script. He studied the role and decided to take it on the basis that the character was unloved and that his motivation by social class causes his mental health problems. His performance was described by a Guardian writer as bringing "unprecedented depth to a character [...] who is more commonly portrayed as just another horrible Dickens git." In the same year, he played Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi in Anand Tucker's Hilary and Jackie. His roles in Our Mutual Friend and Hilary and Jackie were described as his breakthrough roles by Zoe Williams of The Guardian.
In 1999, Morrissey returned to the theatre for the first and last time in nine years to play Pip and Theo in Three Days of Rain (Robin Lefevre, Donmar Warehouse). He continued to take in offers for stage roles, but turned them down because he did not want to be away from his family for long periods. Writing in Time Out, Jane Edwardes suggested that his role as Kiffer in Hilary and Jackie had inspired his casting as Pip in Three Days of Rain as the characters have similarities with each other. Morrissey was attracted to the role because the play began with a long speech and the cast and crew had only two weeks' rehearsal time. Next, he starred with Daniel Craig and Kelly Macdonald in Some Voices (Simon Cellan Jones, 2000) playing Pete, the brother of schizophrenic Ray (Craig). Morrissey researched the character of Pete, a chef, by shadowing the head chef at the Terrace Restaurant in Kensington, London and chopping vegetables in the kitchen for two hours a day. An Independent critic called him "an instinctive actor who can use his whole body to convey an inner turbulence". For his next film role as Nazi Captain Weber in Captain Corelli's Mandolin (John Madden, 2001), Morrissey researched the Hitler Youth and read Gitta Sereny's biography of Albert Speer, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. Like for all of his roles, Morrissey created an extensive back story for Weber to build up the character.
Morrissey returned to television in 2002 playing Franny Rothwell, a factory canteen worker who wants to adopt his dead sister's son, in an episode of Paul Abbott's Clocking Off. His performance was described as characteristically powerful in The Independent. He also played tabloid journalist Dave Dewston in the four-part BBC serial Murder, and prison officer Mike in the part-improvised single drama Out of Control. He researched the latter part by shadowing prison officers in a young offenders' institution for a week. At the beginning of 2003, he played the role of Richie MacGregor in This Little Life, a television drama about a mother (played by Kate Ashfield) who has to cope with her 16-week-premature baby. Though Morrissey's character, the husband and father, was not the focus of the film, he researched premature births by speaking to paediatricians at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.
In the early 1980s, Morrissey developed a filmmaking craft at the Rathbone Theatre Workshop, a Youth Opportunities Programme that taught school-leavers skills for a year. With the workshop, Morrissey shot short silent films on Super 8, and watched foreign films for the first time. Although the scheme paid £23.50 a week and took young people off unemployment benefits, Morrissey reflected in 2009 that many of the participants were just used as lackeys. After his acting career escalated, he started directing because he was aware that, as an actor, he was coming into a project quite late into development and then leaving before post-production, and he wanted to see a film through to the end. Morrissey has said that he prefers to keep acting and directing separate, and would not direct anything he is acting in.
His first major project was Something for the Weekend (1996), which he wrote and produced. Initially called The Barber Shop, the title was changed to avoid a clash with another film. His directorial debut, the short A Secret Audience, centres on a meeting between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII. His second short, Bring Me Your Love, was based on the short story by Charles Bukowski, and stars Ian Hart as a journalist bringing flowers to his wife in a mental hospital. It was screened in front of Some Voices. An Independent critic wrote that Bring Me Your Love "holds out great promise" for Morrissey and an Observer reviewer wrote that it was worth seeing but was not as impressive as A Secret Audience. Bring Me Your Love was produced by Tubedale Films, a studio Morrissey formed with his brother Paul and wife Esther Freud. In 2001, Morrissey directed Sweet Revenge, a two-part BBC television film starring Paul McGann that got him a BAFTA nomination for Best New Director (Fiction). In 2004, Morrissey reunited with Tony Marchant to direct the two-part television film Passer By, about a man (James Nesbitt) who witnesses an attack on a woman (Emily Bruni) but does nothing to stop it. Morrissey was brought onto the project after reading the first draft of Marchant's script. The script went through five more drafts before being filmed over 30 days. Morrissey developed his directing techniques by watching the directors on films and television series that he acted in; he took the minor role of Tom Keylock in Stoned so that he could watch Stephen Woolley at work.
On 20 July 2007, Morrissey was given an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for contributions to performing arts. In the same year, he made his feature debut directing Don't Worry About Me, a film about a London boy falling in love with a Liverpool girl. The film was shot on a budget of £100,000 on location in Liverpool in September and October 2007 and had its world premiere at the 2009 London Film Festival. Joseph Galliano wrote in The Times that Don't Worry About Me is "a very understated film and feels more like European Art Cinema." The film was broadcast on BBC Two on 7 March 2010 and released on DVD the next day.
In 2009, Morrissey and Mark Billingham launched the production company Sleepyhead, which produced the Thorne television series. The company was a part of Stagereel, a production house previously set up by Morrissey's brother Paul. The company bought the rights to adapt the Thorne novels and Morrissey was already developing it to pitch to television channels when Sky made an offer to broadcast it. As of 2010, Morrissey and Tubedale Films were developing two feature films with financing from the UK Film Council. Morrissey was critical of the Coalition government's decision to close the UK Film Council, as he believed it was an asset to first-time filmmakers. The organisation's funding role was taken over by the British Film Institute in 2011.
Morrissey married his partner of over 13 years, novelist Esther Freud, on 12 August 2006 in a ceremony on Southwold Pier. They met when they were set up at a dinner party held by Morrissey's Robin Hood co-star Danny Webb, and have since had three children; Albie, Anna and Gene. His sisters-in-law are Bella Freud and Susie Boyt and his father-in-law was the painter Lucian Freud.
In 2009, Morrissey and a team of filmmakers ran a series of drama workshops for Palestinian refugee children in Beirut, Lebanon, in conjunction with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). On his return to Britain, Morrissey set up the Creative Arts School Trust (CAST), a charity for the purpose of training teachers and continuing the workshops in Lebanon and elsewhere. Since 2010, he has been a patron of The SMA Trust, a UK-based charity that funds medical research into the children's disease spinal muscular atrophy, and the Unity Theatre, Liverpool.
Morrissey is a lifelong Liverpool F.C fan, having grown up in the city.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org