Jonathan Pryce was born on June 1, 1947, in Holywell, Wales. His father, named Isaac Price, was a coal miner, who died in 1976. His mother, named Margaret Ellen (nee Williams), was a retail cashier. He left the home of his parents at age 16 to attend an art school, where he became interested in drama. At some point he changed the spelling of his last name from Price to Pryce. He studied acting on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. After graduation from RADA, he joined the Liverpool Everyman Theatre and eventually became its Artistic Director.
In the 1970s Pryce established himself on the London stage with appearances in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, ‘Hamlet’, and ‘Measure for Measure’ among other plays. He won the 1977 Tony Award for his Broadway debut in ‘Comedians’, for which he also earned the 1977 Theatre World Award and the 1977 nomination for Drama Desk Outstanding Actor Award. Pryce earned his second Tony Award 15 years later for the role as “The Engineer”, a half-Vietnamese/half French pimp in ‘Miss Saigon’. Pryce created the role in the original London production and agreed to reprise the role on Broadway in a transplant of the same production. Despite controversy over his appearance — the actors union decried the long-standing practice of hiring white actors to play Asian or Eurasian characters, especially given the paucity of roles for Asian characters, and it also objected to the producer’s refusal to even audition any Asian actors — he gave a brilliant performance.
In 1976 Pryce made his big screen debut in Voyage of the Damned (1976). But it wasn’t until 1983 that he made a strong impression with his scary performance as a freaky manipulative Mr. Dark in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). Pryce shot to fame with Brazil (1985) and his role as Sam Lowry, a technocrat trying to correct an error caused by a bug and himself becomes entangled in psychopathic bureaucracy eventually becoming an enemy of the state. He also filled such strong and authoritative roles, as president Juan Peron opposite Madonna in Evita (1996), then co-starred opposite Pierce Brosnan as Elliot Carver, the evil megalomaniac media mogul in the 18th Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
Pryce’s versatility and multifaceted talent rarely had a chance to take him beyond playing freaks and villains in film, an imposed forte which he, however, managed to overcome in his numerous stage performances and in a few film and TV works. He went on playing a range of characters marked with sophistication and depth, such as his subtle and nuanced portrayal of author Lytton Strachey in Carrington (1995), for which he won the Best Actor Award at Cannes. Pryce also shone in musicals ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Oliver’ to name just a few. Pryce made numerous works for television ranging from costume dramas to comedy, and from narrations to singing. In January 2006, he replaced John Lithgow as Lawrence Jameson in the acclaimed musical version of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’. He appeared as the timid Jamaican Governor Wetherby Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), and the third installment of the Pirates franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007).
Jonathan Pryce has been with his partner, actress Kate Fahy, since 1974 when they met at the Everyman Theatre Liverpool Company, though they have never married. They have two sons, Patrick (born 1983) and Gabriel (born 1986), and one daughter, Phoebe (born 1990). Pryce and Fahy also co-starred in the 2004 production of ‘The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?’. Fahy and Pryce reside with their family in England.
IMDb: Jonathan Pryce