Also Credited As:James Hugh Calum Laurie
|James Hugh Calum Laurie on June 11, 1959 in Oxford, England, GB|
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Laurie was born on June 11, 1959, and raised in Oxford, England. He was the youngest of four children to father, William ("Ran"), who was a doctor and had been an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, and mother Patricia, who died when her son was 29. Television and movies were a rare treat in the staid household, but even without their influence, young Laurie had an outgoing instinct to be an entertainer. At the age of nine, he won a drama award in middle school, but it was still rather expected that he would someday follow in the footsteps of his father. Indeed, Laurie did go on to first attend the elite Eton School, before attending Selwyn College at his father's alma mater of Cambridge University. At Selwyn, he, too, was competitive in rowing, until a bout with mononucleosis prevented him from pursuing the sport any further. He was not doing too well in his academic studies of archeology and anthropology, so without sports to get by on, he turned to theater, auditioning for Footlights - one of the most renowned student theater groups in the world.
While performing with Footlights, Laurie's fellow cast mates included future TV collaborator Stephen Fry, as well as then-girlfriend and future award-winning actress, Emma Thompson. Before graduating in 1981, the group brought its final revue, "The Cellar Tapes," to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where they won the Perrier Comedy Award. Following the win, they were invited to stage the show at the West End and then adapt it for television, where it aired in 1982. Cast members Laurie, Thompson, and Fry were then recruited alongside other up-and-comers Ben Elton, Robbie Coltrane, and Siobhan Redmond to write and perform in a weekly sketch show. "Alfresco" ran from 1982-84 on Granada television. In 1984, Laurie, Fry, and Thompson poked fun at their Cambridge past by guest starring as a group of posh college kids on the BBC2 alternative sitcom, "The Young Ones" (1982-84).
Laurie made his first appearance on American movie screens with a small supporting role in the 1985 drama, "Plenty." He appeared in "The Secret Policeman's Third Ball" in 1987, the same year he landed a recurring role as "thickie" Prince Regent (later King George IV) in Rowan Atkinson's "Blackadder III" (1987-88). He forayed into film again with a larger part in the romantic drama "Strapless" (1989), before returning to Adder fold as the dim Lt. George in "Blackadder Goes Forth" (1989-1990). In 1995, Laurie and Stephen Fry launched their own sketch comedy show, "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (BBC, 1989-1995), which frequently included Laurie performing self-penned parody songs on guitar and piano. From 1990-93, the pair also co-starred in "Jeeves and Wooster" (ITV), a uniquely British Edwardian comedy based on the stories of P.G. Wodehouse.
Laurie began a steady run of feature film appearances, beginning in 1992 with "Peter's Friends," a Kenneth Branagh film about a group of old college chums reuniting during the Christmas holidays. Next, real life chum Emma Thompson tapped him to play Mr. Palmer when she adapted "Sense and Sensibility" (1995) for director Ang Lee. Following that, Laurie was cast over the pond as one of Cruella De Vil's henchmen in "101 Dalmatians" (1996). Laurie was also frequently seen during the 1996 first season of Tracey Ullman's acclaimed HBO sketch comedy series "Tracey Takes On...," while his big screen career as a top-rated supporting player took flight with such films as "The Borrowers" (1997) and "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1998). He also essayed the Little family patriarch in the charming children's film "Stuart Little" (1999) and its two sequels and subsequent television series. More animated voiceover roles followed "Little," including the British TV series "Little Grey Rabbit" and "Preston Pig" (both 2000).
On American television, the distinguished actor garnered favorable reviews for playing film director Vincente Minnelli in the award-winning made-for-television biopic, "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" (ABC, 2001). He reunited with writer Ben Elton, now a director, to star in the 2002 comedy "Maybe Baby," before a short run directing the British TV dramedy, "Fortysomething" (2003), in which he also starred. Laurie enjoyed a dramatic role in the remake of the military feature "Flight of the Phoenix" in 2004, and while he was there, submitted a casting tape for a role that would change his career forever.
Later that year, the man who had built a reputation as a top British comic actor, broke through to international audiences when was cast as antisocial American physician Dr. Gregory House in the critically praised medical series, "House, M.D." (Fox, 2004-2012). Executive produced by film director Bryan Singer, "House" put a different, slightly demented twist on the medical drama, drawing in a loyal fanbase tired of typical "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) fare. Laurie won back-to-back Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Drama Series in 2006 and 2007, and was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2005 and 2007 through 2011. Meanwhile, Laurie ventured into feature animation, voicing mad scientist Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. in the blockbuster "Monsters vs. Aliens" (2009), E.B's dad in "Hop" (2011) and Steve in "Arthur Christmas" (2011). In fact, his feature career began to pick up due in large part to "House" finally drawing to a close after eight seasons on the air. Though in its last few years the show slipped considerably in the ratings and became far more sentimental - some critics bemoaned the show for losing its sense of humor - Laurie still managed to please fans with his ever-unpredictable portray of the irascible Dr. House.