James Frain was born 14 March, 1968, in Leeds, England. He was raised outside London in Hertfordshire in a "home counties" town called Bishops Stortford. Off-screen, his diversions include writing, photography and his Boston terrier. Married in 2004, Frain and his bride Marta have divided their time between London and Los Angeles with the addition of Dublin and New York to their gypsy lives. Lately James and family seem mostly based in Los Angeles, as evidenced by James' continued work in U.S. television.
He is the first of eight children, the youngest being eighteen years his junior. "Once you've had the first four it becomes self-regulating. I could change a nappy with one hand by the time I was six years old."
James Frain, noted for his chamelion like ability to gracefully transform from character to character, has managed to steadily gain attention amongst his peers, while more slowly becoming known to the public. His skill at accents alone runs the risk of slowing down public attention -- surely he's not the same actor portraying all those different characters? With his remarkable collection of projects, he has attained a reputation as, "An actor who seems to have a deeper purpose than to just gain fame and fortune, re-introducing the forgotten qualities and talents of a true performer." Director John Henderson said of James Frain's performance in Loch Ness (1995), "The man can pull a performance out of his boots, he goes so deep! It can be quite frightening to watch. He can be witty and light one moment, then rip your heart out the next. His passion was the most fantastic thing to watch."
Every movie role he brings to life, whether it be an insidious fifteenth century Spanish ambassador, a sensitive librarian in modern day Oklahoma, or an identity seeking loss adjuster in London, illuminates with a perfect mix of emotion, personality, and exacting gesture which then creates an accurate and believable character. He possesses a very unique beauty, which transcends time. His face could easily blend in with the ghostly gazes of a medieval masterpiece, yet he also possesses a darker, more modern appeal.
This eldest of eight children was born to a stockbroker father and teacher mother. He was bitten by the acting bug early; after seeing ABC's The Six Million Dollar Man, he wanted to emulate Lee Majors. He participated in school plays, but it wasn't until after laboring in numerous jobs, such as waiting tables, theater ushering and working at building sites, that he realized he could pursue acting as an actual profession. After earning a degree in drama from the University of East Anglia, James enrolled in London's Central School of Speech and Drama. While there, he was discovered by Sir Richard Attenborough, who directed him in his feature film debut alongside Anthony Hopkins in the 1993 romantic drama, Shadowlands.
Since that memorable debut, Mr. Frain has portrayed a number of unforgettable film characters, notably the leading role of Kenny in Britain's gangster drama, Nothing Personal (1995), for which he earned a Best Actor nomination at the Venice Film Festival; Daniel Barenboim, the conductor husband of Jacqueline du Pré in the Oscar-nominated drama, Hilary and Jackie (1998); the pivotal role of the Spanish Ambassador in the Oscar-nominated Elizabeth (1998), with Cate Blanchett and Joseph Fiennes; Ben Affleck's double-crossing buddy in the thriller Reindeer Games (2000); Natalie Portman's love interest in Where the Heart Is (2000); and the deliciously evil Chief Magistrate in the action adventure, The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), co-starring James Caviezel, Guy Pearce and Richard Harris. Other feature credits include Julie Taymor's Shakespearean drama, Titus (1999), starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange; Red Meat (1999) with Lara Flynn Boyle; The Mill on the Floss (1997) with Emily Watson; the Pierce Brosnan adventure, Robinson Crusoe (1997); Loch Ness (1997) with Ted Danson and Joely Richardson; Sunshine (1999) opposite Ralph Fiennes; and foreign productions Vigo (1998), What Rats Won't Do (1998) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), with Hugh Grant.
Also a prominent presence on television, Mr. Frain has appeared in numerous miniseries and television films. He was cast in the leading role of Lorimer Black in the well-received BBC/A&E drama, Armadillo (2001); starred with Michael Gambon, Donald Sutherland and Alec Baldwin in director John Frankenheimer's Path to War (2002); voiced the role of Doubting Thomas in ABC's animated story of Jesus, The Miracle Maker (2000); and appeared with Ian McKellen and Alan Rickman in the HBO production of Rasputin (1996). Miniseries roles include David, one of the gladiators, in USA Network's Spartacus (2004), and Schahzenan in ABC's fantasy adventure, Arabian Nights (2000), with Mili Avital and John Leguizamo. In the United Kingdom he was seen in a riveting performance in Prime Suspect 3 (1993) with Helen Mirren and as the troubled and complex Julius in The Buccaneers (1995), co-starring Carla Gugino and Mira Sorvino.
In 2004 James completed filming with Paul Walker and Jessica Alba on the MGM action adventure feature, Into the Blue (2005). He can also be seen playing a sleazy Pilates instructor with a sexual addiction in an improvisational comedy for the Trio Network entitled Brilliant But Cancelled: Pilot Season (2004). He has continued to do a steady stream of appearences on the small screen in the U.S. as well as two roles in indie films The Front Line (2006) and Quid Pro Quo (2007). He can currently be seen in the highly rated Showtime series The Tudors (2007).
In addition to his screen work, James Frain boasts an impressive theatrical resume, appearing in productions with the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has recently made his Broadway debut as Teddy in the Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming in December of 2007.
In the fall of 2001, he also began some wonderful work performing on audio books. This work can is accounted for on our DISCOGRAPHY page.
Mr. Frain is currently represented by :
Luber Roklin Entertainment
8530 Wilshire Blvd Ste 550
Beverly Hills, CA 9021
While it seems quite clear that Mr. Frain is an admirably private person -- "The whole point of acting is that you're trying to be someone else. I don't talk about my personal life because it might get in the way of the characters I'm trying to play." JF -- yet we remain curious. It's a fact of human nature that we want to know more about the people we become interested in. The very "thing" about the job of an actor is that it pre-supposes people will be interested in you. That being said, here are a few fun things that have come to our attention from articles and fellow Frain fans:
Some of James Frain's siblings have proven to be an artistic lot, consisting of a sculptor, a photographer, a stylist, a movie booker and a graphic artist.
Mr. Frain's brother Ben appeared in Elizabeth, playing a young French student making an assassination attempt on Geoffrey Rush's character-- (it sort of backfires). This appearence is now represented in our photo gallery of Elizabeth.
He still owns a stereo that he bought in 1993 out of his first paycheck from Shadowlands.
Before studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, James Frain had a variety of more humble jobs -- he worked cleaning toilets on a construction site, as a waiter, playgroup leader, and theatre usher .
He has a certificate in stagefighting and in early 2002, during his run in King Lear he and Tom Hollander (as Edmund and Edgar) got to do some regular certified stagefighting with swords.