Gerard Murphy from Newry, Co Down, is one of the most accomplished Northern Irish actors of recent years. While his credits include a wide range of high profile film and television roles, it is his work in the theatre that has made the greatest impression.
Although now based in London, Murphy has appeared in several landmark local plays. Notable performances include a towering portrayal of Jesus in Broken Nails, Damian Gorman’s collection of Easter plays, staged at St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast, and his fiendishly scheming Arnolphe in Nick Philippou’s production of Moliere’s School for Wives, for Ulster Theatre Company. Audiences at the Grand Opera House, Belfast were also delighted when he returned a couple of years ago to play an outrageously camp Malvolio, and a sleazy Claudius, in the Birmingham Rep’s tour of Twelfth Night and Hamlet.
In the 1980s, Murphy joined the distinguished group of Associate Artists of the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Oedipus in The Theban Plays, Faustus in Doctor Faustus, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prince Hal in Henry IV, Parts I and II, Johnny Boyle in Juno and the Paycock and Solange in The Maids, which he also directed.
Murphy has also stamped his identity on major roles in many television drama series, including Vanity Fair, The Governor, The Bill, McCallum with John Hannah and The Scarlet Pimpernel with Richard E Grant.
Murphy’s most famous film appearance was as The Nord in Kevin Costner’s blockbuster, Waterworld, alongside Costner and Dennis Hopper. He has undertaken a substantial amount of radio work, including narrating Ballylennon and Two Doors Down for BBC Northern Ireland, and The Lord of the Rings.
© Jane Coyle