It’s been confirmed this week that Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip in the final two seasons of The Crown – yet another piece of impeccable casting from Peter Morgan and the Netflix show. The role caps a bit of a purple patch for the veteran Welsh actor, who’s riding high on his Oscar nomination for 2019’s The Two Popes. But over the years, prolific Pryce has racked up more than 120 screen credits while also appearing frequently on stage, so here’s a reminder of some of his most memorable film and TV roles.
1. Brazil (1985)
Pryce takes the lead in this satirical sci-fi flick from maverick director Terry Gilliam. He plays Sam Lowry, a low-level government employee who gets a chance to liven up his mind-numbing existence in a dystopian future society which has become over-reliant on technology. Though Brazil performed poorly at the box office upon release, it’s gone on to become a cult classic and Pryce has called it a “highlight” of his movie career.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Pryce has a small but memorable supporting role in David Mamet‘s all-star movie adaptation of his Tony-nominated stage play. He plays James Lingk, a timid middle-aged man who’s convinced by Al Pacino‘s ruthless salesman Ricky Roma to make a dodgy real estate investment. Pryce has just two scenes in the movie, but he definitely makes them count – when Lingk realizes he’s been ripped off and turns up at Roma’s office to ask for his money back, his desperate groveling is almost unbearable to watch.
3. Evita (1996)
Pryce is also an accomplished stage actor with two Tony awards in his trophy cabinet – including Best Actor in a Musical for playing The Engineer in the original 1991 Broadway production of Miss Saigon. Though Madonna often dominates the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Evita, Pryce provides solid and dignified support as Juan Perón, the ambitious colonel who becomes President of Argentina, and husband of Madonna’s beloved First Lady Eva Perón. He contributes to several songs on the soundtrack and gets one solo number: the touching “She Is a Diamond.”
4. Carrington (1996)
Pryce won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his poignant performance in this rather underrated biographical drama. He plays Lytton Strachey, an influential British writer who entered into an unconventional marriage-like relationship with painter Dora Carrington (Dame Emma Thompson) despite only being attracted to men. Pryce and Thompson bounce off one another beautifully and the film’s fine supporting cast includes Rufus Sewell, Alex Kingston, and Dame Penelope Wilton.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Pryce’s Bond villain was never going to be a mere caricature. In Pierce Brosnan‘s second outing as 007, Pryce gives a juicy but nuanced performance as Elliot Carver, a billionaire media baron who tries to provoke a global war so he can secure broadcasting rights in China. Though many reviewers compared Carver to Rupert Murdoch, screenwriter Bruce Feirstein has said he actually based the character on disgraced British newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell, late father of Ghislaine Maxwell.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-7)
Pryce appears in the first three Pirates movies as Weatherby Swann, governor of Port Royal and doting father of Keira Knightley‘s swashbuckling Elizabeth Swann. Though he’s noticeably less daring than his daughter, he eventually proves his mettle by helping her to escape from jail and standing up to Tom Hollander‘s scheming Lord Beckett – a decision which ultimately gets him killed.
7. Game of Thrones (2015-16)
Pryce has admitted that when he was first offered a role in Game of Thrones, he turned it down because he “thought it was a genre that I wouldn’t watch.” But several years later he accepted a different part, High Sparrow, and definitely relished playing such a complex character. High Sparrow is a self-styled “man of the people” with some admirable socialist beliefs, but he’s also a horribly intolerant bigot, a paradox Pryce captures brilliantly.
8. Taboo (2017)
Pryce plays the menacing Sir Stuart Strange, chairman of the immensely successful East India Company, in Tom Hardy‘s dark drama series set in 19th century London. Strange becomes increasingly aggravated as Hardy’s enigmatic adventurer James Delaney refuses to cooperate with him, which leads to several of his infamous F-bombs. Strange doesn’t need to cuss to get his message across, though: when he’s crossed by Mark Gatiss‘s foolish Prince Regent, he vows: “I swear to God I’ll burst him like a pig’s bladder!”
9. The Wife (2017)
Glenn Close came near to winning a long overdue Oscar for her searing performance in this quietly powerful indie film. Pryce is also excellent as Joe Castleman, a vain, delusional, and rather lecherous author who seems not to appreciate the huge sacrifices his wife Joan (Close) has made for his writing career. The Castlemans’ loving but toxic relationship is so believable that the film’s big twist will probably make you gasp.
10. The Two Popes (2019)
Pryce shares the screen with fellow Welshman Sir Anthony Hopkins in this classy biographical movie set in the Vatican City. He plays Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who’s urged by Hopkins’ Pope Benedict XVI to reconsider his decision to step down as an archbishop so he can ultimately succeed him as Pope. It’s a gentle and elegant two-hander for which both men deservedly earned Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations this year.
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