- Bruce Martyn Payne
November 22, 1958 (age 62)
- Actor, Film Producer
Bruce Martyn Payne (born 22 November 1958) is an award winning English character actor and producer and was a member of the 1980s Brit Pack. Although he is best known for his villainous roles, Bruce Payne has played characters across the spectrum. His notable villainous roles include Charles Rane in Passenger 57, Jacob Kell in Highlander: Endgame and Damodar in Dungeons & Dragons and Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God. His notable heroic roles include Frankie in Kounterfeit, Dr. Burton in Silence Like Glass and Major Baker in Britannic.
His notable comic roles include Yellow in Keen Eddie, Dogger in Solar babies and the Devil inSwitch. Payne has received many plaudits for his acting. Adele Cherreson in Cosmopolitans aid, "saying that Payne is a good actor is like saying Fred Astaire is a good dancer." Payne notes of his acting approach, "[i]f I'm allowed to in terms of time, I really like to get into the character.". Payne's commitment to his profession has led him to alter his physical appearance, like so many other actors in the professional world, in order to augment his performances. For example, he shaved his head for his role in the Dungeons and Dragons films.
Payne was born in Woking, Surrey, and grew up in New Haw, Surrey. He developed an interest for acting at an early age. In an interview with Impact magazine in 2001, Payne revealed that "I know that my immediate family tell me that when I was very young I saw a play that my brother was in – probably a Peter Pan pantomime because it involved a crocodile – and I apparently shouted out 'That crocodile is going to eat my brother' and ran up on the stage. I don't remember that myself, but if it really happened, I think it shows that from an early age I loved that suspension of disbelief". At the age of 14 he was diagnosed with a slight form of Spina Bifida which by age 16 required surgery to rectify. Payne was hospitalised for 6 months following the operation.
Payne continued school studies, despite a contact with a talent scout during that time. After his graduation, he enrolled in the National Youth Theatre for two seasons. Payne has described this experience as "Four hundred kids thrown together to work on 7 plays." In addition, Payne was occupied with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for one season. He then auditioned for several fringe acting companies but was told he was too young and lacked experience. However, in 1979 he was admitted to the "prestigious" Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) acting program. Before being accepted at RADA, Payne worked as a joiner, a salesman and a landscape gardener. Payne graduated from RADA in 1981 with seven major prizes for acting, comedy (Payne won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy which had previously been won by Anthony Ainley) and physical presence. Payne was part of a 'new wave' of actors to emerge from the Academy. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Kenneth Branagh and Fiona Shaw. Whilst at RADA, Payne wrote and directed himself in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbethin which he wielded a baseball bat on stage instead of a sword. This was chosen by the Principal of RADA to be performed in front of Queen Elizabeth II, in one of her rare visits to the academy. Payne would later appear on stage in both Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Payne also played Karsten Bernick in the Henrik Ibsen play The Pillars of Society while at RADA, a production in which Paul McGann also appeared.
Payne's first television role was in the Tales Out of School series which also featured Tim Roth and Jim Broadbent. Payne's first major film role came with Michael Blakemore's Privates on Parade (1982) playing the singing and dancing Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright (the role which Ben Cross had played in the stage version), appearing alongside John Cleese, Denis Quilley and David Bamber. The film was an adaptation of the Peter Nichols play of the same title about a fictional military entertainment group, the "Song and Dance Unit, Southeast Asia", assembled to entertain the troops in the Malayan jungle in the years after World War II.