- May 10, 1957 (age 63)
Alex Jennings (born 10 May 1957) is an English actor, who has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. A three-time Olivier Award winner, he won for Too Clever by Half (1988), Peer Gynt (1996), and My Fair Lady (2003). He is the only performer to have won Olivier awards in the drama, musical and comedy categories. He played Prince Charles in the 2006 film The Queen. His other film appearances include The Wings of the Dove (1997), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006) and The Lady in the Van (2015).
Jennings was born in Essex, the son of Peggy Patricia (née Mahoney) and Michael Thomas Jennings. He attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch and then studied English and Theatre studies at the University of Warwick, graduating in 1978. He said he saw his first theatre when he was in high school and went to the Old Vic Theatre, which led him to be inspired to be an actor.
He trained as an actor for two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Jennings began his career in regional repertory theatre, in 1985 playing a range of roles including Maximilien Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Jennings met director Nicholas Hytner during this production and has worked with him many times since.
For his performance as Gloumov in Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic, he won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1988. He was nominated in the same category the following year for portraying Dorante in The Liar.
He has performed for the Royal National Theatre in a number of plays, including Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Albert Speer.
His Royal Shakespeare Company roles include the title role in Peer Gynt (for which he won an Olivier Award 1995-06 for Best Actor), the title role in Richard II (opposite Anton Lesser as Henry Bolingbroke), Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK, American tour and Broadway), Angelo in Measure for Measure, and the title role in Hamlet. I
In 2002, he appeared in the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn revival of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. He was an Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 2007, he played the role of Garry Essendine in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the NT.
In 2011, he played Mikhail Bulgakov in the National Theatre's production of Collaborators.
In 2014, he played the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical, which was directed by Sam Mendes and was performed on London's West End theatre district. He took over the role from Douglas Hodge in 2014.
In 2016, he reprised his role as Professor Henry Higgins in the Australian 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady, directed by Julie Andrews.
Jennings' work in film includes a portrayal opposite Helen Mirren as Charles, Prince of Wales in the Stephen Frears directed film, The Queen.
He also appeared in War Requiem, the RSC's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Mark in the Oscar-nominated movie The Wings of the Dove, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Four Feathers.
Jennings portrays playwright Alan Bennett in the 2015 film The Lady in the Van opposite Academy Award winner Maggie Smith in the title role. The film is directed by Nicolas Hytner, who is a long-time collaborator from the theatre.
Jennings' work in television includes appearances in The State Within, Smiley's People, The Franchise Affair, Inspector Morse, Lewis, Alfonso Bonzo, the title role in Ashenden, Dead Poets Society, Inspector Alleyn, Hard Times, Bad Blood, and Peter Ackroyd's London. His many radio credits include Casino Royale, The Way of the World, Strange Meeting, Vorbis in Small Gods, and The Old Curiosity Shop. He has also recorded the audio versions of the books The Horse and His Boy, Out of the Silent Planet, and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which was selected in June 2008 as one of the top forty audiobooks of all time. He is also a regular narrator on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.
In 2007, he portrayed the Rev Hutton in the BBC series Cranford. He also played John Le Mesurier in the one-off BBC drama Hancock and Joan.
In 2009, he appeared in The Habit of Art as Benjamin Britten.
In 2010, he played Captain Shipshape in the CBeebies second series of Grandpa In My Pocket and starred in the film Belle. After that, he played Henry Tizard in Castles in the Sky.
From 2011 to 2014, Jennings played Alan Cowdrey QC in the BBC One legal drama Silk. In 2016, he appeared in the Netflix series The Crown as Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, as well as Leopold I of Belgium in the ITV series Victoria; Leopold was a distant relative of Edward VIII.