English actor Christopher Eccleston was born 16 February 1964 in Langworthy, Salford, The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street, before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.
At the age of 19, he was inspired to enter the acting profession by such television dramas as Boys from the Blackstuff. Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, he was influenced in his early years by Ken Loach’s Kes and Albert Finney’s performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Molière. At the age of 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating from school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist’s model.
Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the film Let Him Have It (1991) and an episode of Inspector Morse, “Second Time Around” (1991). In 1992, he played the role of Sean Maddox in the BBC drama miniseries Friday on my Mind. He garnered A regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) which brought him recognition in the UK. Eccleston also appeared in the episode “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” of the Poirot series adapted from mysteries by Agatha Christie. He also appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave (1994), with Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, Alongside Mark Strong, Gina McKee and Daniel Craig. In 1996, he took the part of Trevor Hicks—a man who lost both of his daughters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster—in the television drama film Hillsborough, penned by Jimmy McGovern. In real life, he was the best man to Trevor Hicks at his wedding in March 2009.
His film career has since taken off with a variety of roles, including Jude (1996), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of the 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton’s play of the same name. He starred in the independent films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and The Invisible Circus (2001). He starred in the car-heist film Gone in 60 Seconds, but did not take his driving test until January 2004. He said on BBC’s Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.
He has appeared in a variety of television roles, especially in British dramas. These have included Hearts and Minds (1995) for Channel 4, Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1996), a modern version of Othello (2001), playing ‘Ben Jago’, (the Iago character); and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV, in which he played Steve Baxter, the son of God. He has made guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002). Eccleston appeared in a stage role in Hamlet in the 2002 production at Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse. March–April 2004 saw him return to the venue in a new play, Electricity.
Eccleston has been twice nominated in the Best Actor category at the British Academy Television Awards. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, but he lost to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart). He was nominated in 2004 for The Second Coming; Bill Nighy won for State of Play. Eccleston won the Best Actor category at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Our Friends in the North. In 2003 he won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time, for his performance in Flesh and Blood. In July 2004, a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the “19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama.”
Eccleston also portrayed the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began, albeit by less than three months. However Eccleston decided to leave the role after just one series, because he feared becoming typecast. Other newspaper reports state he was “overworked” “exhausted” and “didn’t enjoy the environment that the cast an crew had to work in”. Following his appearance in Doctor Who Eccleston was voted “Most Popular Actor” at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor.
In July 2012, Eccleston spoke positively of his time on Doctor Who during a talk at the National Theatre This led to speculation he was considering making a return appearance as the Ninth Doctor for the show’s 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”, in 2013. The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, stated that he would have loved Eccleston to return. However Eccleston declined following talks with executive producer Steven Moffat. In 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury. In December 2005, Eccleston travelled to Indonesia’s Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.
In 2006, Eccleston appeared in the ITV documentary special Best Ever Muppet Moments and appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry theatre in Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors. In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss which was directed by Michael Almereyda and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. In 2006 he also starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who. Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode “Godsend”, portraying the character Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers. Eccleston appeared as the Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark Is Rising.
In 2008 Eccleston appeared on the BBC Four World Cinema Award show arguing the merits of five international hits such as The Lives of Others and Pan’s Labyrinth with Jonathan Ross and Archie Panjabi. In 2009, Eccleston starred opposite Archie Panjabi in a short film called The Happiness Salesman. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as science fiction hero named Doctor Laser Rage. In 2010 Eccleston appeared as John Lennon Alongside Naoko Mori, who had previously appeared with him in Doctor Who, as Yoko Ono in “Lennon Naked”. Eccleston starred in the first episode of BBC One anthology drama Accused. He won an International Emmy Award for his role. In May 2011, he starred as Joseph Bede in BBC2’s seven part drama The Shadow Line and also played the role of Pod Clock in an adaptation of Mary Norton’s children’s novel The Borrowers on BBC One. In 2012, he starred in the political thriller Blackout and portrayed Creon in an adaptation of Antigone at the Royal National Theatre. In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe And also portrayed The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers. In 2016 Eccleston began appearing as the eccentric but lovable granddad Maurice Scott in the BBC drama The A Word. Eccleston is also portraying Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth during 2018.