Sir Derek (George) Jacobi

Definition

Theater

  • (1938 - ) British classical actor, often consideredthe natural successor to Sir John Gielgud. The son of Londonshopworkers, Jacobi appeared with the National Youth Theatre beforemaking his professional debut in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's1961 production of N. F. Simpson's One Way Pendulum. Two yearslater he joined the National Theatre, with whom he made his Londondebut as Laertes in Hamlet. Since then Jacobi has played majorroles in a broad range of plays, including Hamlet at Elsinore in 1979.As an associate actor of the RSC, he has starred in several notableproductions, including Peer Gynt (1982) and an award-winningversion of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac in 1983. In 1986 hewas highly praised for his portrayal of the mathematician Alan Turingin Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code. More recently Jacobihas played the title roles in Kean (1990), Anouilh's Becket(1991), Macbeth (1993), and Uncle Vanya (1996). He gave anacclaimed performance as Prospero in Michael Grandage's Old Vic productionof The Tempest (2003), starred in the same director's revivalof Schiller's Don Carlos a year later, and in 2006 gave one of his most compelling performances as the irascible title character in JohnMortimer's A Voyage Round My Father. His performance as Malvoloin the 2007 Donmar Warehouse production of Twelfth Night earned him the Olivier Award for Best Actor. In 2010 he returned to the Donmarto give a critically acclaimed performance in King Lear, againdirected by Grandage. Despite such triumphs, Jacobi remains best-known to the general public for his portrayal of the stuttering Emperor Claudius in the television series I, Claudius (1977).
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