Jonathan Pryce (born June 1, 1947) is a Welsh actor born in Holywell, Wales.
In 1974 he married actress Kate Fahy and they have three children. Pryce appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company during the 1970s. A Welsh speaker, he appeared at the concert to launch the National Assembly for Wales, reciting poetry by Dafydd ap Gwilym. In 1980, he appeared as Ken in Breaking Glass, and had a small but pivotal role in the 12th episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series, one that he reprised for the “Quintessential Phase” which was broadcast in 2005.
Having appeared on TV in the title role of Martin Luther, Heretic and in the Ian McEwan-scripted film The Ploughman’s Lunch (both 1983), Pryce played the subdued protagonist Sam Lowry in Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film, Brazil. Brazil won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association 1985 awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, as well as Academy Awards in 1986 for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Pryce has a good relationship with Brazil’s Director, Terry Gilliam, later being cast by him in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989), and The Brothers Grimm (2005).
He appeared, to some controversy, in the original Broadway production of Miss Saigon, in a role that certain activists said should have gone to an Asian, as the character is Asian.
Pryce was spokesman in a 1993/1994 series of American television commercials for Infiniti. These commercials were popularly parodied on Saturday Night Live in December, 1993, with Mike Myers doing an impersonation of Pryce spokesmodeling for sleek luxury toilets instead of automobiles. They have also been parodied in other advertisements, such as some of those for the Jordan’s Furniture chain in the 1990’s.
Jonathan Pryce has shown himself a diverse and capable actor, playing downtrodden and timid characters in Brazil and Glengarry Glen Ross while also filling strong and authoritative roles in Evita as Juan Peron, Bond villain Elliot Carver in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, and as the Royal Governor of Jamaica in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. In 1995 he won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his performance as Lytton Strachey in the film Carrington.
His comic version of the Master in the 1999 Doctor Who spoof Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death was very well received by critics, partly because of the over-the-top nature of Pryce’s portrayal which satirised previous depictions of the character.
In 1989 Pryce appeared on one of the earliest episodes of Channel 4 improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, alongside Paul Merton and John Sessions. Though he excelled, it turned out to be a one-time appearance.
As of January 2006, Pryce has replaced John Lithgow as Lawrence Jameson in the musical version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels then in 2007 he played Sherlock Holmes in the BBC production, the baker street irregulars, which is set to be released on dvd in May 2007.