Ciaran Hinds

Talented Belfast born actor and film star

Irish audiences last saw Ciaran Hinds on stage here in 2001, when he starred in Brian Friel’s one-act play, The Yalta Game, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, but for decades the career of this talented Belfast born actor has spanned stage, TV and film on the international as well as domestic scene.

Hinds was born on February 9, l953, the youngest of five children. His father, a doctor, expected his only son to follow him into medicine, but he read law for a time at Queen’s University Belfast, before it became clear he had inherited his mother’s passion for acting (she trod the boards on the amateur circuit) and he moved to London to train at RADA during the 1970s.

Glasgow’s experimental Citizens' Theatre provided Hinds with his first professional experience as a jobbing actor, and he was a member of the company for years. He returned to Ireland in 1984 for Field Day Theatre Company’s double bill of one-act drama: High Time by Derek Mahon and The Riot Act by Tom Paulin. But the international stage soon beckoned again, and among other productions, he went on to tour the world with Paris-based Peter Brooks in The Mahabharata in 1987 as well as with the RSC in 1993 (playing the lead in Richard III).

On the small screen as on the stage, Hinds has convinced as the lead in a wealth of costume dramas and period pieces, such as Jane Eyre, Ivanhoe, Persuasion, and The Mayor of Casterbridge, made for the UK and the US markets, but he has also proved his range in more chilling contemporary TV drama such as Cold Lazarus and Prime Suspect.

Meanwhile, the world of the silver screen beckoned when John Boorman cast him as a medieval knight in Excalibur in 1981. Hinds won acclaim in 1990 for a masterly, nuanced performance as one of two taciturn brothers in love with the same woman in December Bride by Thaddeus O’Sullivan (adapted from Sam Hanna Bell’s classic novel of the same name).

While other Irish film credits included Pat O’Connor’s Circle of Friends (1995) and Danny Boyle’s Some Mother's Son (1996), Hinds was also extending his international repertoire with roles in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Gillian Armstrong’s Oscar and LucindaThe Weight of Water (2000), to name but three.

With its stellar leads of Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002) was viewed by many as the actor’s major breakthrough into Hollywood – earlier chances had often been stymied by previous commitments to theatre and TV work. Since then, he has been seen most recently as the terrifying John Traynor in Joel Schumacher’s Veronica Guerin (2003), camping it up as Monsieur Firmin, new co-owner with Simon Callow of the haunted opera house in Schumacher’s Phantom of the Opera (2004), and as Jonjo's charming, womanising Da in Terry Loane’s Mickybo & Me (2004).

Ciaran Hinds lives in London with his partner, the French-Vietnamese actress Hélène Patarot, and their daughter Aoife.

By Paula Shields (1997), and Kathryn Bigelow’s